The return of winter means you’ll be spending more time in your home, but you won’t be the only one seeking shelter. As temperatures drop, mice and rats head indoors to search for food, and they might pick your house, your workplace, your factory for their new residence.
These pesky pests invade your home in a variety of crafty ways. Mice can squeeze through a half inch hole, while rats can fit through a hole the size of a 5 pence piece.
Rats and mice are both strong swimmers, and have even been known to swim through sewer lines or climb vertically up drain pipes to enter homes.
The house mouse is usually brown or grey and can grow up to a few inches in length. Rats vary in colour from brown, to reddish-grey to black, and have a long tail. Norway rats on average will grow to about 16 inches in length. They’re both colour blind and have poor eyesight. They rely on their sense of smell, taste, sound and touch to find food.
How do I know if I have rodents in my home?
Aside from physically seeing the rodents in your home, most people realize they have a rodent problem after noticing droppings, evidence of nesting, gnaw marks on doors and furniture, or damage to packaged foods and dry goods.
Mice and rats leave dark brown or black droppings in their walking path, around food sources and nesting areas. The droppings are granular in shape and can range from ¼ of an inch to 3/8 of an inch. You can gauge the extent of the infestation by the amount of droppings you find.
Another sign of rodent activity is greasy tracks along the floor, or footprints and tail tracks in dusty areas, especially along walls.
Rodent activity increases after dark, so you might have more luck looking at night. Listen for squeaks, movement and unexplained sounds coming from behind your walls.
One of the main reasons mice and rats take up residence in homes is due to the abundance of food. Mice prefer grains so you’re likely to notice tears, rips and bite marks to bags of rice and cereal. Rats will eat just about any type of food, and they’re likely to scatter food about as they eat. Rats also tend to scatter food around as they eat.
What Damage Can Rodents Cause?
The gnawing can cause considerable damage to your home. Rodents have been known to chew on things like wires, PVC piping, furniture, bricks and anything made of wood. In some cases, rodents have started house fires from chewing through electrical wires.
The greatest threat mice and rats pose to humans, however, is contact with disease and bacteria transmitted through rodent droppings and bites. One of the biggest dangers is their faeces and urine, as exposure to these can transmit serious illnesses such as salmonella and leptospirosis.
You should evaluate the exterior of your home twice a year for new holes or gaps where rodents can enter. You want to look for cracks in the foundation, gaps around doors and windows and where the gutters connect to the fascia board. Rodents can chew through anything that isn’t galvanized or copper.
If you do find traces of rodents in your home, hiring a professional pest control service to proof and clear your home or workplace is a simple process, taking a minimum of three visits to control the problem.