Every year, rodents gain access to homes, causing property damage, contaminating food sources, triggering allergies and, in some cases, causing illness/disease. It is estimated that rodents infest approximately 21 million homes in the United States, each year, when the cold weather forces these pests to seek refuge indoors.
There are several signs a rodent may have taken up residence in a home, including chewed door frames or furniture legs; small, dark-colored droppings; gnawed food boxes that are stored in pantries or cupboards; oily marks along walls, which are caused by rodents’ habitual use of the same paths; and sounds of movement in pantries, ceilings and behind walls.
The most common type of rodent across the world is the house mouse. A nocturnal animal, the house mouse can gain entry to buildings and homes through openings as small as one-quarter inch. Another common rodent is the Norway rat. Also known as the sewer rat, this rodent is found throughout the United States and can measure up to 16 inches in length, including the tail, and weigh just under a pound.
What are some precautions that homeowners can take to help prevent rodents from coming indoors?
There are a number of pest-proofing measures that homeowners can take to protect their home and families from the threats posed by rodents.
- Store boxes and containers off the floor and organize items often to prevent rodents from residing in undisturbed areas.
- Seal cracks and holes, including areas where utilities and pipes enter the home.
- Store food in thick metal or plastic containers with tight lids.
- Clean up spilled food right away immediately and wash dishes and cooking utensils soon after use.
- Keep outside cooking areas and grills clean.
- Do not leave pet food or water bowls out overnight.
- Keep bird feeders away from the house and use squirrel guards to limit access to the feeder by squirrels and other rodents.
- Use a thick plastic or metal garbage can with a tight lid and keep sealed at all times.
- Keep grains and animal feed in thick plastic or metal containers with tight lids. In the evening, return uneaten animal feed to containers with lids.
- If you find rodent feces, hear sounds of scurrying in the walls or observe other signs of a rodent infestation, contact a licensed pest professional to inspect and treat the pest problem.