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Homeowners Ultimate Rodent Prevention Guide

January 23, 2020

By Daniel Baldwin, BCE, CCFS, CP-FS

Rodent infestations affect the safety and comfort of your home quickly. Cooling weather in the fall months and warm houses full of food are perfect conditions that can cause mice and rats to invade your home. Read this guide to discover how to prevent rodents from infesting your home, how to identify signs of their presence, and learn what to do if they get inside.

Signs of a rodent infestation

You may never notice a mouse or rat in your home unless the infestation is severe. If you suspect rodents in your home, look for the following signs:
  • Rodent droppings: You’ll likely find rodent droppings around food packages, in drawers and cupboards, or under the sink. They look like small brown or black grains of rice.
  • Nests: Nesting material piled together is a sign of an active infestation. Rodents are partial to shredded paper, fabric, or dried plant matter.
  • Chewed packaging: Check boxes and bags of food in your pantry for chew marks, especially at the corners near openings.
  • Holes: Rodents can chew holes through walls and floors to create new entry points into various areas of your home.
  • Stale smells: Unpleasant, stale, and musky odors coming from hidden areas may be due to rodent urine and waste.
group of rat droppings on a yellow background  

How many rats does it take to create an infestation?

If you’ve only noticed one rat in the past two weeks, your problem may not be severe. However, if you see multiple rats or turn on a light at night and see three or four rats scurry to hiding places, that is considered an infestation. Even if you’ve only seen one rat, if they’re pregnant or capable of mating outside your house, there’s still a risk of a single visitor turning into an infestation in a short amount of time.

What is considered an infestation of mice? 

It can be difficult for most homeowners to determine whether they’re dealing with a full-scale mouse infestation or just one or two wandering mice. Unfortunately, one male and one female are all it takes for a few visitors to turn into a full-fledged infestation. Severe infestations involve a dozen to two dozen mice, depending on their age and the presence of other mice nearby.

Why are rodents dangerous? 

Rodents can cause both structural damage to your home and physical harm to its inhabitants. Here are some of the most common ways rodents can affect the health and well-being of your household:
  • They can make noise at night and keep you up.
  • They can make your home smell unpleasant.
  • They can eat food from your pantry, leaving messes and contaminating your food and your cooking surfaces.
  • They can bite if they feel threatened.
  • They will leave droppings and urine everywhere they go.
  • They chew constantly and could cause damage to electronics or even cause a house fire if they chew on wires.
Mouse biting wire plugged into wall

Do rodents spread diseases? 

According to the CDC, rats and mice can carry many diseases. These diseases spread to people through the handling of rodents, contact with their waste or saliva, and breathing air or eating food contaminated with their waste. Rodents can also be carriers of ticks, mites, and fleas, affecting both humans and pets. The most common diseases spread by rodents are:
  • Hantavirus
  • Hemorrhagic fever
  • Lassa fever
  • Leptospirosis
  • Monkeypox
  • Rat-bite fever
  • Salmonellosis

How to prevent rats and mice

The best way to protect yourself, your family, and your home from rodents is to prevent them from getting inside in the first place. Focus on the main causes of rodent infestations. Start by promptly cleaning food messes and learning to store food in airtight glass or thick plastic containers that rodents can’t chew through. Don’t leave pet food sitting out overnight, and make sure your garbage is properly stored and inaccessible to rodents. Rodents are also attracted by water and shelter, so don’t leave standing water. You should also ensure your house’s moisture level isn’t too high, as rodents prefer moisture and humidity. Keep storage areas like closets and basements clean so that it’s harder for rodents to hide their nests.  The last step in prevention is to ensure there are no entry points—many rodents can fit through holes the size of a quarter. Check the exterior of your home for holes or cracks and use caulk to fix and seal them off if needed. Make sure you have screens covering windows, doors, and vents, and also check for tears in the screens.

Rodent control services

Rodents can be dangerous to your home and health. Trying to get rid of rodents on your own can be time-consuming, tedious, and may not be effective long-term. Most rodent control products only target one rodent at a time, so you’ll have difficulty catching all the rodents in your home before they multiply.  At Hawx Pest Control, we have the tools and experience to address rodent problems quickly, safely, and efficiently. Contact us today for a free estimate.
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