Human Services

Rats and Mice: An Introduction


Rodent Control Program: The goal of our program is to provide ongoing monitoring, consultation and assistance to Arlington residents and property owners interested in controlling rats or mice. The focus is on prevention efforts, rather than extermination.

What we do: We respond to individual complaints and take appropriate action to help eliminate both rodents and rodent harborage. Public Health 1) provides community education on methods to be used to reduce food sources and harborage, 2) works with Code Enforcement as needed to assure compliance with Chapter 2 related to rodent harborage, and 3) provides information about cleanup and extermination of rodents. Extermination of rats on private property is the responsibility of property owners, with the County providing consultation and guidance upon request.

To request assistance or information on controlling rats or mice or to report rodent harborage on the exterior premise of a commercial or residential property please contact us at (703)-228-7400.

Read on to learn more about rodents and how you can help to control them around your home and in your neighborhood. 

Rats and mice are rodents that are commonly found living near people. They can be very destructive to homes, and can carry germs that make people sick. They often make their nests in and around people’s homes and office buildings. 

The most common rodents encountered by residents in Arlington County are the Norway rat and the house mouse. Both of these rodents are very good at jumping, climbing, swimming, gnawing and squeezing through very small spaces.


The Norway rat digs and travels through burrows, and will nest up to 150 feet from its food supply. It can make a nest in your home by gnawing holes in sheds and walls, etc., or squeezing through cracks and crevices in foundations, vents, etc. Learn more about Norway rats

Fact: Rats can squeeze through spaces as small as a quarter!


The house mouse usually makes a nest in stored materials indoors, but can also live outside. Mice often become a problem in the fall when they enter homes to seek warmth. Mice tend to nest only 10 to 30 feet from their food supply.

Fact: Mice can squeeze through spaces as small as a dime!


For more information, please click on the following resources:


Health hazards

How do I know if I have rats or mice?

How to control rodents

Is your home open to rats and mice?

Rat Control Brochure

Trapping or baiting

Useful links

Last Modified: May 17, 2013
2100 Clarendon Blvd. Arlington, VA 22201 Tel: 703-228-3000 TTY: 703-228-4611