The Professional Pest Management Alliance (PPMA) has declared the week of November 15-21, 2015 the Rodent Awareness Week, so it’s only fitting that today we will talk about rodents. This time of year this topic is especially relevant, because most rodents are looking for safe, warm places to spend the winter, and our homes fit that description perfectly. To play our own devil’s advocate, let’s first consider this: is there actually a need for “rodent awareness?” It’s not like the majority of the U.S. population doesn’t know what rodents are and what they look like, right? But did you know that rodents can be the cause of over 35 diseases? Or that mice can fit in gaps as small as a dime? Having mice or rats in your home or apartment building can be more dangerous (and more likely) than you think, which is why we are here to raise awareness.
Which Rodents Should I Be Concerned About?
You probably know about rats and mice, but they are actually just two big groups of rodents that consist of many different species.
- Deer mice are some of the smallest among mice, with large beady eyes, but they rarely invade homes. However, if you do see one in your home, be very careful, because they can carry Hantavirus.
- House mice live up to their name, i.e. they live in your house. They reproduce very fast and in a matter of a few months you can have a few dozens of them rummaging through your pantry and walking on your kitchen counters.
- Norway rats are the rats you would probably picture when you think of a rat. They are bigger than mice, and therefore are capable of gnawing on things and causing physical damage.
- Roof rats are bigger than the house mouse but smaller than the Norway rat. They tend to hang out in the upper parts of the house, such as an attic, hence the name.
In Maryland, house mice and Norway rats are the two species you should be concerned about. Both of them are good climbers and can easily contaminate your food and food preparation surfaces. Their feces may contain E. coli, salmonella and other dangerous bacteria and viruses. Besides, they can bring in ticks and fleas into your home—pests that can be harder to get rid of than rats and mice. Another thing to consider is that rodents in your home may attract larger predators like snakes. Snakes often follow mice into homes and then stay because they have a steady food supply. They may clean up your rodent infestation, but then you’ll end up with a snake infestation—doesn’t seem like a fair trade-off.
What About Squirrels?
Squirrels are also considered rodents and have many things in common with rats, especially their gnawing habits. Although squirrels are fairly large, they too sometimes can sneak into your attic undetected and live there for a long time before you notice any signs of trouble. Although squirrels generally don’t transmit diseases, they can cause significant damage to your roof, insulation and wiring, and can even cause a fire. If you suspect there are squirrels in your attic, act fast!
How to Solve Your Rodent Problem
Your initial instinct may be to set up mouse traps or poison to deal with rats or mice. However, this is rarely a one-and-done solution. Trapping and killing rodents by itself is simply population control, but it won’t stop more rodents from getting in. To successfully get rid of rodents, you need to identify and seal any holes and gaps where a rodent could fit. And we are talking about very tiny gaps you would probably discard as “impossible to get through.”
Once the gaps are sealed, existing rodents should be removed and the infestation cleaned up. The approach is vastly different to rodent removal and squirrel removal. In either case, you may need professional assistance to get the pesky animals out of the house. Mid-Atlantic Wildlife Control will be happy to help you remove them and prevent future infestations. And we will clean up too, to save you time and effort!