Rodent Control - know what you are dealing with
"3 out of every 100 housing units is infested with rats and mice"1997 American housing survey
"In some American cities nearly half of all premises are infected with rats and mice" CDC sponsored survey
Whichever way you look at it there's a good chance you might need rodent control in your home.
So what are we dealing with?
There are three main rodent pests in the USA:
The most common types of rodent
The house mouse
The Norway rat
The roof rat
These are found right across the US
These prefer to live underground in burrows and sewer pipes. They are widespread in the cooler parts of the USA.
As its name suggests this pest prefers to be above ground in attics and wall spaces. It's a little bit smaller that its Norway cousin and tends to be found mainly in the warmer southern states.
There maybe three different types but they have enough behavioral similarities that we can lump them altogether.
For instance they all have poor eyesight but very sensitive whiskers. This means they like to keep to the corners of rooms where they can stay close to the wall.
Their eyes may not be very good but they've got a keen sense of smell and can easily sniff out a source of food even if it's in a packet in the cupboard!
Rats and mice are very agile, they can jump up to two feet vertically, walk comfortably on overhead wires, climb up narrow smooth drainpipes, climb rough walls and even dig down under foundations.
Problems rodents cause
Rodents like to chew- in fact the term rodent actually comes from the Latin word that means "to gnaw". They use their sharp teeth to chew to through walls and containers to access the food that they can smell.
Their gnawing can cause structural problems in your house and rodents chewing electrical cables is a common cause of fires.
As well as damaging property, rats and mice also spread disease such as murine, typhus and leptospirosis.
Of course the most infamous disease associated with rodents is the bubonic plague - also known as the black death - which killed 6 out of every 10 people in Europe in the 14th century. While we are nowhere near those proportions today, the human plague is still with us with at least 16 plague deaths reported in the USA in 2015.
And of course they spoil food and furnishings with their droppings and urine
What to look for
How do you know you’ve got rats?
The most obvious sign is when you see a live rodent scurrying in the corner or hearing them rustle in the attic or behind the wall. If you see one in the open it’s likely that there are many more still hidden.
Other signs to look for are their droppings and tracks. You might also see places where they have gnawed and partially eaten food.
How to deal with rodents
As with all pests, the best way to avoid problems with rats and mice is to deny them access to your house in the first place. All cracks and gaps more than ¾” wide should be sealed. Doors and windows should be tight fitting. Pay particular attention to where pipes come into the house.
Another strategy is to deny them access to food by using rat proof containers for any bulk food storage. Also make sure that your refuse is kept in tight fitting trash cans that are emptied regularly.
And finally, eliminate any breeding places by clearing garden rubbish and moving firewood piles away your house.
If you suspect that you might have a rat or mouse infestation call a rodent control professional as soon as possible. They will be able to identify what you are dealing with and employ the right rat exterminator methods to clear your home as quickly and safely as possible.
Learn more about local pests: