Tag Archives: Rodents

Rats, a Rat!

Rats, a Rat!

As winter approaches, days get shorter, temps begin to finally fall, and rats start to look for places to settle in for the season. Even in South Florida, where temps stay relatively warm, cool spells can send rodents scurrying for warm and cozy places to escape predators, where they can find food, water and focus on enlarging their families. They don’t take up much space or eat that much food but if your home becomes a winter retreat for rats, you could be in for a rough season.

Rats create fire hazards, cause structural damage and carry diseases

Rats not only cause damage to structures and create fire hazards, they can carry at least ten diseases including bubonic plague, murine typhus, jaundice, rabies and ratbite fever as well as cause food-related illnesses. Resilient and intelligent, rat brains closely resemble human brains and by studying lab rats, researchers can better understand how the human brain works. But that’s a different story for a different day. For now, let’s focus on how to identify rats in your home and eliminate them from your property.

Two of the most persistent rats in South Florida are the roof rat and the Norway rat:

  • Roof rats: These rodents are also known as fruit rats, citrus rats and black rats
    • Ranging in color from black to gray with tan to white undersides, roof rats have large ears and eyes and measure up to 16 inches, including their tails, which are longer than their bodies.
    • Roof rats like to live above the ground, usually in trees and in your attic.
    • Maturing in 3-5 months, roof rats produce 6-8 young per litter, up to 6 times per year
    • Roof rat droppings average ½ inch long and are spindle-shaped
  • Norway rats: Rodents are known by their more popular names such as sewer rats, wharf rats, brown rats and river rats
    • Reddish-brown, with scattered black hairs, gray to white undersides and blunt noses, Norway rats are larger than roof rats, measuring 18-20 inches, including their tails.
    • Norway rats live near water and burrow under homes as well as in your basement (should you have one in Florida) and crawlspaces.
    • Reaching maturity in 3-5 months, the more prolific Norway rats can produce 8-12 young per litter up to 7 times per year.
    • Norway rat droppings average ¾ inch long and are capsule–shaped.

Rats need to gnaw and will chew through almost any substance

With teeth harder than platinum and incredible jaw strength, rats can chew through wood, metal, stucco, electrical wiring and even concrete (CBS). Rats, also excellent swimmers have been known to chew through sewer caps, entering homes through toilets. To survive they must constantly chew to manage their rapidly growing teeth, rodents make up the list of prime suspects in house fires of unknown origins. Norway rats can cause foundation damage by burrowing under concrete slabs and under home foundations. Rats possess superior balance, running easily on pipes, ledges and utility wires. Roof rats will climb anything they can hold onto, including pipes, wires and rough walls.

Rats can spread diseases and other pathogens in a variety of ways

Rodents are vectors for Bubonic Plague, Hantavirus and a number of serious diseases.  Rats carry fleas and ticks that feed on their blood, infecting them with pathogens that pose risks to human and pet health. Hantavirus, a respiratory condition, can be contracted from inhalation of airborne particles in dried rat feces, urine and saliva. Rats can transfer bacteria to food sources causing salmonella and E-coli.

Rodents coming into direct contact with humans and your pets spread diseases and viruses by:

  • People and animals handling or touching dead rats
  • Live rodents biting people and/or animals
  • Humans inhaling dried rodent excrement, while cleaning rodent affected areas- Never clean-up without a mask.
  • Humans ingesting food contaminated by rats

Nocturnal pests, rats tend to sleep and stay put during the day, moving about at night in search of food and water

Unless you actually see a rat in your house, chances are you might not even know there’s a population growing in your attic, basement or inside your walls. Since rats multiply at an alarming rate, Hulett suggests homeowners learn to recognize tell-tale signs of a rat issue early on, in order to prevent an infestation.

  • Scratching and scurrying noises in your walls and attic can indicate rodent activity, as rats make for your kitchen at night
  • Chewed food bags and rat droppings in your kitchen indicate rat activity
  • Chirping and squeaking noises in your walls and attic are indicators of rats nearby
  • Rats like to use regular pathways, so packed down areas near walls and greasy marks on walls indicate rodent activity.

Your first line of attack when dealing with a suspected rat situation: Contact a professional

Rats are intelligent and leery of anything new in their environments, relying on trained and licensed pest control professionals can save you time and money investing in traps and baits that either don’t work and/or in retrieving rat carcasses from hard to reach places, due to improper placement of traps and baits you are exposed to disease and unpleasant smells.

At Hulett, our integrated pest management system (IPM) uses the most current rodent capture equipment, in addition to non-toxic, environmentally responsible baits, placed in strategic locations to reduce rat populations. We then remove carcasses, until rats are eliminated. Monitoring for additional rodent activity, Hulett affixes locked, tamper-proof feeding stations to patio stones around your home’s perimeter that use an anticoagulant material to finalize your rat elimination process.

Exclusion seals the deal

  • Rats can squeeze through holes no larger than a nickel. Sealing or caulking all small cracks, crevices and holes in your home’s foundation and around   windows, doors and other entryways makes a huge difference in rats gaining     access to your home and loved ones.
  • Fitting all pipes, drains, vents and other potential entryways with screens can further deter rats from entering your home.

Make your home uninviting to rats

  • Maintain an uncluttered clean home, with attention to food storage and wiped down food surfaces.
  • Eliminate clutter inside and outside your home.
  • Remove debris and leftover construction materials from your property.
  • Repair or remove moisture-prone areas in and around your home.
  • Keep tree limbs and branches trimmed away from your home and your lawn cut short.

Hulett offers a variety of options in our Healthy Home programs that create a pest-proof barrier around your home, so you won’t have worry about rats, mice, and other household pests any time of the year. Customer satisfaction is our priority; we guarantee it. Contact Hulett for a free pest inspection today! Just call Hulett at (866) 611-BUGS!

Trained Mice Make Airports Safer

Trained Mice Make Airports Safer

Israeli’s are airport security experts.  They have learned over decades how to keep airports and airplanes safe from explosives.  The newest technology uses the skills of mice to sniff out potential threats.

Mice are easily trained, and once they learn how to detect explosive devices, they are a low-maintenance group of workers.  These rodents are adept at any type of investigation using their sense of smell, so can be trained in finding a wide range of dangerous devices.

The Israeli company that is training and promoting mice as the next cutting edge airport technology, can turn mice into “bio-sensors.”

Airports still use X-rays and metal detectors.  If someone has a suspicious profile, luggage may be subjected to explosives trace testing.  But only a small number of people can be trace tested, which involves swabbing the luggage and testing the swab results.

Mice are far more efficient than trace testing and better at sniffing out potentially dangerous individuals.

Travelers who are concerned that little white rodents will be scurrying over their luggage need not feel dismay, however.  The mice can be placed in cages at key points and trained to scan the luggage as it goes by.

 

How to Keep Your Home Rodent-Free This Winter

Keeping your home pest free is hard enough during the warm months when those critters have just as much interest in the outdoors as they do in the treasure trove that is your house. During the winter, when their primary instinct is to try to stay warm, keeping rodents and other pests out of your home can feel almost impossible. You might even be tempted to just give up and accept that you’ve got some new roommates.

How to Keep Your Home Rodent-Free This Winter

Earlier this year, we published a great list for keeping pests like insects out of your home. There are a lot of great tips here for making sure your home is safe from the creatures that seem to be able to traverse even the tiniest foundation cracks, but what about the “big kids?” What about rodents?

How Do They Get In?

According to an article in the New York Times, mice in particular can usually squeeze through spaces that are just slightly larger than the average pencil, like the space between the pipes delivering water and evacuating sewage and the walls of your foundation and house.

Other larger animals take advantage of entryways like dog/cat doors and unscreened doors that are left open (like when you’re unloading groceries from the car) and windows that get propped open to allow some fresh air into the home.

The Best Offense is a Good Defense

The simple truth is that you cannot watch every single potential entryway into your home every minute of the day. Rodents are quick and often subtle. You often don’t even know they’re there until you start noticing signs of destruction or seeing droppings.

Take some time to go through your home from the literal top to the literal bottom, both inside and out. Look for holes and cracks and do your best to plug them up. The aforementioned New York Times article says to plug the small gaps between the walls and pipes with steel wool, and we couldn’t agree more. Put solid weather stripping around your doors, especially on the bottoms. Fill any holes you find, caulk any cracks, etc.

What If They Get in Anyway?

Even though you love all creatures big and small (even the ones that skeeve you out), that doesn’t mean you have to surrender your home to them when they are cold or if they are causing destruction to your property. There are a lot of ways to discourage rodents from taking up residence in your home that don’t involve you having to worry about your karma.

Effective and Environmentally Reliable Tactics

One of the best things you can do to discourage rodents that want to get into your house is to use Bounce Dryer Sheets in cracks and to put them under the pipes in your kitchen and bathroom cabinets. Rodents do not like the smell of that product in particular and will likely turn around and seek friendlier smelling homesteads.

Other great ways to discourage rodents that might be seeking food and refuge include:

  • Keeping food items (including those that are boxed or bagged) up and off the floor and in tightly sealed containers.
  • Keep your garbage in a metal garbage can that has a lid that can be kept sealed tightly all the time.
  • Seal up any grains and/or pet food in containers that have hard to open lids.

You can find a bunch of other great tips in one of our previous articles.

Note: Although DIY tips can be useful, they can also be ineffective and potentially very dangerous! It’s always advised that, when in doubt, you seek out the help of a certified professional such as Hulett Environmental Services to take care of any pest issues you may have.

Rodents, bats and spiders can cause more than just a scare for homeowners

Ghosts, goblins and witches won’t be the only creatures trying to spook homeowners this Halloween. Hulett Environmental advises people to be on the lookout for real-life ghoulish pests lurking around neighborhoods, including rodents, bats and spiders.

Rodent Control

As the temperature continues to drop, many of these creepy critters will seek respite from the winter chill – often within the confines our homes. Once inside, rodents and other pests can do more than just provide their fair share of scares. They are capable of contaminating food, spreading disease and posing a threat to our property.”

Rodents can spread Salmonella and Hantavirus and create fire hazards by gnawing through electrical wires in the home. Bats are frequent carriers of rabies, which is potentially fatal if left untreated, and some species of spiders can administer a painful bite when disturbed.

To keep these pests from haunting the house this Halloween, Hulett Environmental recommends the following tips:

  • Seal any cracks or crevices with caulk and steel wool. Pay special attention to holes in the structure that lead to dark secluded areas, like attics and belfries.
  • Screen attic vents and openings to chimneys.
  • Install door sweeps on exterior doors and repair damaged screens.
  • Eliminate sources of moisture, especially in crawl spaces and basements.
  • Inspect items such as boxes, grocery bags and other packages brought into the home.
  • Store food in airtight containers and dispose of garbage regularly.
  • If you suspect a pest infestation in your home, contact a licensed pest professional to inspect and treat the pest problem.