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Health Department



Rats and Mice


Learn how to prevent and control a rat or mouse infestation.


We investigate reports of rat infestations and provide information to tenants, property owners, and neighborhoods on dealing with rat and mouse problems.  When needed, we issue orders to property owners to correct things that are contributing to rat and mouse problems.



How to prevent and control a rat or mouse infestation

Rats and mice are not only a nuisance, they also cause property damage and disease.  Getting rid of food and places to live is the key to keeping your home, business, and neighborhood free of rats and mice.   

Rodent Control | Healthy Pets, Healthy People | CDC


Get rid of outdoor food sources

  • Garbage Cans:  Use garbage cans with tight fitting lids and empty them regularly.  Put plastic and paper bags into a covered container.
  • Compost Bins:  Do not compost any animal products (meat and dairy).  Keep lids tight and put bins on a base so a rat cannot burrow through the bottom.  Keep bins as far away from your house as possible.
  • Fallen Fruit:  Throw away fruit and berries that have fallen on the ground.
  • Bird Feeders:  Seed should be on poles and in trays.  Do not overfill bird feeders.
  • Pet Food:  Do not leave pet food outside.  If your pet doesn't eat it, rodents will.
  • Pet Waste:  Pick up poop from your yard and throw it away in a sealed garbage can.


Take away their home

  • Stack firewood 18 inches off the ground and away from all buildings to keep rodents from nesting and hiding.
  • Cut bushes, vines and tall grasses that provide cover.
  • Remove cars, appliances and furniture that have been put outside and are no longer being used.
  • Plug holes under buildings with steel wool.
  • Regularly clean out sheds and storage areas.
  • Keep your home and property clear of trash.
  • Talk to your neighbors about controlling rats and mice on their property.


Keep rats and mice from coming indoors

Check inside and outside your house for gaps or holes and seal them up.  Rats and mice can get into very small places.  Mice can squeeze through a hole the size of a nickel, and rats can squeeze through a hole the size of a half dollar.


Rodents can get in your home from tree branches that hang over your roof.  Keep trees and bushes cut back to prevent access.


Protect your health

If you think you have rats or mice in your home, take the following steps to protect your health:

  • Put all food in sealed containers.
  • Throw away all food and drinks that may have come in contact with rodents.
  • Clean cookware and cutlery before using.
  • Wash hands well before preparing food, eating, or drinking.
  • Wear shoes around the house and do not sleep or lie down on the floor.
  • Contact a healthcare provider right away if a rat or mouse bites you.


How to kill rats or mice

  • Trapping is recommended over poisons to remove rats and mice. 
  • Poisons are not recommended because children and other animals may eat the poison and get sick, or in some cases, die.  Poisoned rodents can die in hard-to-reach places, causing a very bad smell.  If you want to use poison, contact a qualified pest control company.
  • Wrap dead rodents in newspaper or a plastic bag before putting the animal in the garbage.  Injured or sick rodents must be killed.  Try not to touch the dead rodents and use gloves if possible.  Always wash your hands with hot water and soap after touching a rodent (even if you wore gloves).







Health Department Office Location
2nd Floor, 300 4th St. N.
La Crosse, WI 54601

Main Business Phone: 608-785-9872
Main Fax: 608-785-9846
[email protected]
In a public health emergency call 911
WI Relay Service and Interpretation Services Available

Office Hours: 8:00am to 4:30pm Monday-Friday; some service hours may vary

Collaboratively promoting a healthful community for all people.