With fall finally upon us, it’s time to think about pest proofing your home again. Pests gain entry into homes in the winter as they seek shelter from the cold weather. This blog will focus on mice and rats: what signs to look for and how to keep them out. Rodents are a concern because they spread diseases like Salmonella and Hantavirus when they contaminate food, and bring fleas, ticks and lice indoors. They can also cause serious structural damage by chewing through wood and electrical wiring.
Here are a few signs to tell if you have a mice or rat problem:
- urine odor
- gnawed holes
- rub or gnaw marks
- rodent runways
- rodent nests
- scampering or scratching noises
- unusual pet behavior
It’s important to identify which rodent is the cause of your problems in order to determine the right course of control needed. Rats are larger than mice and will have coarse red, brown, grey, or black fur (depending on the variety) and a long, scaly, fur-less tail. A mature rat can range from 11-19 inches long (including its tail) and weigh ½ to 1 lb. Mice have large ears and tiny black eyes. They have fine fur that can be black, grey, or brown and a 3-4 inch long, hairless tail. Mature mice grow to about 6-7 inches long (including its tail) and weigh ½ to 1oz. Their droppings also vary in size. Mouse droppings are small, less than ¼ inch, and pointed on both ends. Rat droppings are ½ inch or larger. Norway Rat droppings are blunt at both ends, while Roof Rat droppings have pointed ends. New droppings are shiny and putty-like in texture, while old ones are hard and crumbly. Being able to tell the difference between new and old droppings can indicate how recently there has been activity in an area.
Now here comes the defense portion! Store food, including dog/cat food, in sealed containers. Keep counters free of crumbs and food residue. Seal points of entry. Mice can fit through a hole the size of a dime! Check window screens for tears and seal cracks in walls. If there are pipes that enter your home, fill the gaps with mesh, caulking or steel wool. Because rodents are excellent climbers, consider getting a cap for your chimney. Elevate your firewood at least 18 inches above the ground and keep it stored away from the house. Adding a brush strip to exterior doors can close a gap that rodents may use to gain entry and also keep in the heat. Rodents thrive in clutter. Pick up piles of laundry from the floor and boxes that are clustered together. These are a few examples of perfect hiding places for the little critters. Make sure that stored items are kept elevated off the ground. Maintaining your landscaping will also help. Trim any branches that hang close to the house. These can provide easy access to the roof or attic. Weeds and leaf piles also provide hiding places.
There are many types of rodent control that you can purchase at the store, such as baits and traps. When chosing a method of control, make sure you pick something that works for the type of rodent problem you have. For example, if you have a rat problem then small bait boxes won’t be big enough to allow the rat to get inside to eat the poisonous bait. If you’re not sure what kind of problem you have, give The Bugyman a call! Inspections are free and we are here to help you. Hopefully, this helps answer some questions you have may have on rodents. Have a happy and safe Thanksgiving!
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