"The Norway rat and other rat and mouse species carry fleas and flea diseases," says Candace Cummings, Wildlife Associate-Urban Specialist, Clemson University.
"They gnaw on the barn structures and food containers, consume grain and feed, leave fecal contamination in food and tack, and build nests, burrows, and tunnels above and below ground.Notes horse owner Judith L. Lessard, Editorial Assistant of Publications and Media Relations at the College of Veterinary Medicine at Michigan State University,
"Mice can make nests in a secluded area in the tack or grain room, such as on the seat of a saddle that is covered up with a saddle blanket or under the saddle.They use bits of material that they've been able to chew up and drag to that area such as paper from grain bags or bits of cloth from rags you have laying around."
Small, persistent, and clever opportunists, rats and mice gain entry into stalls, tack, and feed rooms by gnawing, climbing, jumping, swimming, and other tactics, Cummings
says."They are constantly exploring their surroundings, memorizing the locations of pathways, obstacles, food, water, escape routes, and other elements of their domain.They quickly detect and avoid new objects placed into their familiar environment.Thus, objects such as traps and poison bait are often avoided for several days."
The first line of defense in a rat/mouse control program is to eliminate their food sources."Good sanitation practices are very important," Cummings
"Keep water buckets off of ground level and, if possible, surround the water bucket area with sheet metal to prevent rats from climbing into buckets," recommends Cummings
Seal all points where rats and mice enter buildings."Hardware cloth can be used over large holes and entrances where rats are gaining access, and steel wool can tem porarily plug holes," Cummings
says."Sheet metal bands 18 inches wide can be attached to the outside of barn walls 36 inches above ground level or 30 inches above where a rat can jump to prevent rats from climbing up outside walls and entering the barn through the roof or windows." Cummings
also recommends placing a two-foot wide band of one-inch diameter gravel a half-foot deep around the perimeter of the barn to deter burrowing.
Finally, eradicate rats and mice through poisoning."It is important to use only poisons labeled for the species you want to control," Cummings
"Bait stations should be large enough to allow several rodents to feed at once and to have at least two openings," Cummings
"Since rats are very suspicious, it may take several days for them to enter and feed on the baits," Cummings