A new year means new pests are trying to call your South Florida house their home. This year, along with new year’s resolutions to improve your health, finances, attitude, and whatever other things you want to change in your life, make this year the year you keep your South Florida home rodent-free.

What kind of rodents are trying to get into South Florida homes?

Rodents that like to spend the winter near humans in South Florida include roof rats, Norway rats, and house mice. Your home offers the three things rodents, as well as humans need to survive: shelter, food, and water.

Rodents spread diseases

Rats and mice are vectors for many human and pet pathogens. The fall of the Roman Empire, plus the Black Death that reduced the world population by about half have been attributed to humans coming into contact with rat fleas infected with the bubonic plague, bacterium Yersinia pestis. Rats carrying these fleas spread bubonic plague to humans. Rodents are also linked to Typhus outbreaks, such as the one in downtown Los Angeles in 2018. Other potentially life-threatening diseases caused by association with rodents include: Hantavirus, Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis, Salmonella, Rat-bite Fever, and Tularemia among other diseases that can be transmitted to humans, pets and livestock, such as Lyme Disease, Eastern Equine Encephalitis and Dog Heartworm.

Rodents and electrical fires

Rodents need to gnaw on things in order to file down their teeth that are constantly growing. Gnawing on wood, insulation, and electrical wiring are some of the ways rodents can negatively affect the integrity of your home. Many house fires of unknown origin have been attributed to rats and mice chewing through electrical wiring in homes.

Make your home unattractive to rats and mice

There are a few things proactive homeowners can do to keep rodents from entering their homes this winter. These things include:

  • Excluding rodents from your home.  Given the fact that mice can squeeze through holes no bigger than a dime, it’s important to peruse the foundation of your home for any cracks, crevices and actual holes in your foundation and caulk them asap. Check around doorways and windows for holes and cracks that can provide rodents easy access to your home. Also, check any opening where utility lines enter your home. Caulk around electrical, gas, and water lines or use steel wool to snugly seal any openings from the outside. Repeat the process on the inside, for extra protection. Also, install screens across any vents in your home to exclude rats and mice.
  • Repair all water leaks.  Cutting off water supplies to rodents will make your home less attractive to rats and mice. Repair all leaks and improperly functioning drains. Outside of your home, make sure your gutters are clean and your downspouts drain away from your foundation. Eliminate all standing water in your yard, storing kids’ toys and extra gardening equipment in indoor storage areas. Repair any areas where the wood in your home is damp or has been water damaged. Check your roof for missing shingles and uncovered attic vents.
  • Repair all screens and replace worn weatherstripping.  South Florida residents are already on top of repairing and replacing window and door screens, due to the persistent nature of mosquitoes in the sunshine state. Replace weatherstripping that is worn, so rodents can’t easily slip through the space created by worn weatherstripping.
  • Eliminate clutter.  This goes for the interior and exterior of your home. Organize and store piles of things that are creating clutter in your home. This includes getting rid of those cardboard boxes in your attic or basement, as rodents like to use cardboard as nest stuffing. Also, roaches like to use cardboard boxes as hiding places. Donate or responsibly recycle things you don’t use. In your yard, store or get rid of all extra materials, such as building supplies. Stack firewood at least six feet from your home and ideally, 20 feet away from your house.
  • Clean your home thoroughly.  This may sound odd, because you feel like your home is clean, and it might be to you, but to rodents, food may be everywhere. This is why it’s important to vacuum floors regularly and to pay special attention to your kitchen and dining areas. Rats and mice have especially sensitive noses and can tell where food is and how much is available without even seeing the food.

Even if you do everything you possibly can to deter rodents from entering your home, you may find that for those rodents, getting into your home is their new year’s resolution. If you hear scratching in the walls, scurrying in your attic, squeaking in your walls, or if you actually see a rodent in your home, the time to act is now, because rodents reproduce faster than you can scream “EEK!” Protect your home and loved ones from rodents that pose health threats – Just Call Hulett!