Tips to Prevent Unwanted Tenants – Rats and Mice
As temperatures drop and the snow starts to fall, everyone moves inside to bundle up and keep warm – including rodents. While rodents are active year-round, rats and mice become a more significant problem in winter when cooler temperatures drive them indoors in search of food, water, warmth, and shelter. Rodent problems can quickly become unmanageable and pose numerous threats to your property: they can contaminate and damage food products, cause structural damage, spread disease, and also be the source of reputation damage or unhappy tenants. Here’s what you need to know to help prevent these unwanted tenants this winter.
Why Rodents Are an Issue
Once they’ve identified an opportunity to get in, rodents will move into walls, closets, pantries, linens, and furniture seeking warmth and food. Rodents love to chew wires and build nests in the interiors of buildings, creating real property risk. Any part of the property can be affected, but kitchens and storage areas are often the site of rodent activity. In addition to the risk of property damage, rodents present serious health risks as they can carry a variety of diseases such as the potentially fatal Hantavirus. Rodents may also transport bacteria such as salmonella into your food.
Signs of Rodent Activity
It’s important to know the signs of rodent activity so that you can monitor and remove any invaders before they become a real problem.
- Droppings: Rodents leave behind fecal droppings around 70 times per day. Mouse droppings can be as small as a grain of rice and rat droppings are typically the size of a raisin. Droppings are most likely to be found in food and storage areas where rats and mice tend to hide.
- Urine trails and grease marks: Mouse urine has the ability to cause allergies in some children. Urine trails can also attract more mice and are often found along the walls or the floor. Dark, greasy markings on walls or other permanent/semi-permanent surfaces may be the accumulation of rodent oils that rubs off of rats and mice as they squeeze through openings or run along the walls.
- Gnaw marks: Typically found on food boxes, gnaw marks are an undeniable sign that your property is experiencing some type of rodent infestation.
How You Can Prevent Rodents
The best way to avoid rodents this season is to take preventive measures to exclude them. When rodents can’t get in, they can’t cause problems.
- Inspect property for entry points.Diligently inspect the exterior of buildings for any gaps or holes. Rats can squeeze through holes as small as a quarter and mice can enter through holes as small as a dime. You’ll need to seal holes with materials that rodents can’t gnaw through such as hardware cloth, cement or metal sheeting. Seal any gaps or holes the size of a pencil or larger with plenty of caulking or other sealant product. Also, keep exterior doors closed whenever possible; rodents can enter when tenants are moving in and out of your building.
- Keep your property clean. When it comes to pest control, the most important step is keeping everything clean. Rodents are attracted to trace amounts of food and debris. Remind tenants to keep their areas tidy and wipe up any and all food spills immediately. Be sure to clear all common areas of food and seal garbage cans tightly. Remove clutter around the property that might make for a perfect nest. Also, place garbage dumpsters as far away from your building as possible as they could be an attractant for rodents.
- Stay vigilant for pest warning signs. The eyes of your maintenance team can be a powerful weapon. Use them to your advantage by educating your team on signs of rodent activity so they can help identify problems as soon as they start.
Rodents are rapid breeders, so a small population can quickly turn into a full-blown infestation if not addressed. If you notice signs of rodent activity, be sure to contact your pest management professional immediately.