By Hope Bowman, Technical Specialist, Western Pest Services
As cooler temperatures settle in for the winter, so do we – spending more time indoors in the warmth of our homes and less time outside. Unfortunately, cold weather and short days also drive rodents indoors, and the abundance of food, potential entry points, and hiding places in condominiums and houses could make your community the perfect winter getaway for rats and mice.
Outside of the pure ick factor associated with rodents and mice – no one wants to see a rat run across their kitchen floor – rodents should be considered unwelcome guests for several reasons. For starters, they are capable of causing structural damage. These creatures love to gnaw. In fact, the word rodent is derived from the Latin rodere, which means “to gnaw.” Wood, paper, dry wall – they’ll gnaw on just about anything they can sink their teeth into. They also have poor eyesight and can mistake electrical wiring for plant roots, which can be a fire hazard.
Rodents can also contaminate and damage food products and present serious health risks. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, rats and mice spread more than 35 diseases worldwide, including Hantavirus, salmonella, jaundice, and plague. These diseases can be spread to humans through direct contact with feces, urine, saliva, or rodent bites.
Once inside, a rodent infestation can spread quickly. Rodents, particularly mice, are prolific breeders. A female mouse can produce up to 10 litters in a year, birthing an average of six pups per litter. Most mice reach sexual maturity after only 35 days, which means those pups can then begin producing their own litters in no time.
Because rodent problems can quickly become unmanageable, it’s important to monitor for signs of rodents and work with a pest management professional to implement exclusion tactics to keep them out.
So how do you know if you have a rodent problem? Rats and mice are not known for their discretion, which means you can typically find evidence of their presence. It is possible to have a rodent sighting, but they are most active at night, so it may be more likely to find other clues of their existence. Keep an eye out for the following signs:
By implementing some smart prevention tactics and enlisting the help of a professional rodent control expert, you can help make rodents a non-issue. Here are some tips to help prevent and control rodent issues this winter.
Don’t give rodents the chance to enjoy the warmth and comfort of your community this winter. Implement exclusion tactics, monitor for any issues, and call on a pest management professional for help, particularly if you already have an established rodent problem, so they can help quickly control the issue before it gets out of control.
Hope Bowman is a Technical Specialist and Board-Certified Entomologist with Western Pest Services, a New Jersey-based pest management company serving businesses and homeowners in major Northeastern markets.