As temps drop, rats and mice are seeking out a warm place to stay… maybe your home?
According to the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), winter is a prime season for rodent invasions with more than 24% of homeowners – 21 million homes – reporting mice infestations specifically in the winter.
Because rodents are mammals, they need to maintain a warm body temp to survive. And since they don’t hibernate, they may take up residence in your home, shed, garage or even car! Knowing what attracts these rodents is what will help keep them out this winter. Aside from being a nuisance, rodents can cause damage to home, property and even your health!
Rats and mice are known to spread more than 35 diseases. These diseases – hantavirus, Lymphocytic choriomeningitis (LCM), plague, tularemia, to name a few – can be spread to humans (or pets) directly through handling of live or dead rodents, contact with rodent feces, urine, or saliva, as well as rodent bites. Diseases carried by rodents can also be spread to humans or even pets indirectly through fleas, ticks, or mites that have fed on an infected rodent.
Rodent droppings can trigger allergies and transmit food-borne illness such as salmonella. In addition, mice are capable of dropping up to 25,000 fecal pellets each year, an estimated 70 times each day. Consequently, prevention and prompt removal in the case of a rodent infestation is key.
The best way to prevent rodent infestation is to remove their sources of food, water and shelter. Mice can squeeze through a hole the size of a nickel and rats can squeeze through a hole the size of a half dollar looking for those necessities.
NPMA recommends that homeowners take proactive steps to prevent a rodent infestation during the winter months:
- Inspect wires, insulation and walls for any signs of gnaw marks, which may indicate an infestation.
- Store boxes and containers off of the floor and organize items often to prevent rodents from residing in undisturbed areas.
- Install gutters or diverts to channel water away from your home.
- Seal cracks and holes on your home’s exterior, including areas where utilities and pipes enter.
- Keep branches and shrubbery trimmed away from the home.
- Store firewood at least 20 feet from the house and five feet off the ground.
- If you find rodent feces, hear sounds of scurrying in the walls or observe other signs of an infestation, contact a licensed pest professional to inspect and treat the pest problem.
Suspect rodent activity? If unwanted pests are seeking shelter in your home this winter, it’s time for professional help.