By Hope Bowman, Technical Specialist, Western Pest Services
As temperatures drop throughout fall and plummet in winter, rodents become increasingly frantic to find a warm place to hole up until the spring. If you haven’t proactively prepared your building to prevent rodents from entering, then you might find yourself with a few unwelcome tenants.
Rats and mice can be tricky to control because of their ability to fit through tight spaces. These pests can compress their skeletons to squeeze through very small openings – a rat can fit through a hole the size of a quarter, while a mouse can fit through a hole the size of a dime!
Once a rodent feels comfortable inside, an infestation can develop quickly due to their rapid reproduction habits. Rats produce four to seven litters per year, with about eight to twelve pups per litter. Mice reproduce even more frequently, with up to ten litters in a year and an average of about six pups per litter. If left unresolved, it’s easy to see how a rodent problem can escalate.
But what makes rodents more of a threat than a nuisance is their ability to spread disease. Rats and mice spread more than 35 diseases worldwide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, some of which can be deadly including Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome, Lymphocytic Chorio-meningitis, plague, and Salmonella.
Rodents also love to gnaw; in fact, they’ll gnaw on just about anything. This can be a potential fire hazard if they chew through electrical wires, which they commonly mistake for roots.
Luckily there are steps you can take to help protect your building(s) and tenants from a rodent infestation. Start by implementing the tips below, which focus on exclusion and sanitation.
If you suspect you have a rodent problem in your building, call a pest management professional. Do-it-yourself solutions are not always successful and can even make the situation worse in some cases. Rats and mice are adaptable, which is one of the challenges. If a do-it-yourself trap is placed improperly and a rodent is able to escape, it can actually learn from the experience and become skittish and hide away, making control even trickier
When rodents make themselves at home, there are some telltale signs that can tip you off to their presence.
Rodents can cause a number of potentially hazardous outcomes so the sooner a problem is identified and handled the better. Be proactive in protecting your building and be on the lookout for the telltale signs of rodent activity, so you can help keep your tenants happy and your building open for business.
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.