In order to rein in rodents, you must first know what attracts them to your home and eliminate it. They are typically looking for three things – water, shelter and food. If you understand their eating habits and can control their food source, that’s the key to helping prevent infestations.

Ranging from rats and mice to squirrels and beavers, rodents are crafty mammals that can fit into small spaces, seeking out your food supply and the cozy shelter of your basement or attic. Most rodents tend to prefer eating plant foods like seeds, grains, and small fruit. However, mice and rats are omnivores, which means that their diet can consist of animal products, too. Loosely translated, they will eat virtually anything that you do. Remember the NY rat carrying a slice of pizza in the subway? That’s determination!

Although it is thought that mice are attracted to cheese, don’t believe every cartoon you see!  Mice tend to prefer foods that are higher in carbohydrates. Chocolate may be more effective attractant for mice than cheese. However, since house mice have an enormous appetite, they tend to be more indiscriminate and will consume any food source available to them. They have been known to eat up to 20 times a day! They commonly disturb trashcans in search of food and are capable of surviving for long periods with very little food.

Rats, on the other hand, are very picky eaters, but they’re open to meal diversity if their preferred foods of seeds, fruits, vegetables and grains aren’t readily available. If they get into your house, attractive foods can include cereal, oats, rice and vegetables that are stored in cardboard or flimsy plastic, as well as pet food kept in its original packaging. They’ll also rummage through unsealed garbage cans. Remember the NY rat carrying a slice of pizza in the subway? That’s determination!

If food is really scarce, mice and some other types of rodents have been known to eat each other. They’re some of the few cannibalistic mammals in the animal kingdom, which is part of the reason that they’re so populous around the world. They’ll do anything to survive.

While rodents have been seen chewing up paper, cardboard boxes and wiring, they don’t actually eat these items.  This destruction is due to their nesting habits. Rodents live and breed in dark areas that are typically inaccessible to humans. They build their nests from found objects, much like birds. And when the temps get colder and their natural food sources start to dry up, they will come looking for shelter (food and water) inside.

Mice carry a variety of diseases and parasites so they pose a threat to humans and pets. The easiest way to reduce mice infestations is to remove food sources. If they see your home as a consistent buffet, they’ll happily move into the space between your walls, crawl spaces, or even dark corners of your kitchen cabinets. Poorly sealed cereal boxes, bags of flour and crumbs left in messy rooms of your home are common rodent attractants.

Before rodents get too cozy around your house, contact a pest control professional for a free inspection.