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MARCH 21 2022 / PEST AND TERMITE
Having rodents get into your house is probably not on your list of things you want to happen this winter. Unfortunately, fall and winter are the seasons that you’re most likely to end up with a rodent infestation in Virginia.
With cold temperatures come scarce food and water supplies, forcing rodents to look for warm shelter and a steady supply of resources nearby. All three of these essential needs can be satisfied in one location: Your home.
If you end up with rodents in your house, they’ve found what they’re looking for and won’t be inclined to leave on their own.
Instead, you’ll have to do something to get rid of them if you ever want to save yourself from the damages and dangers they cause. Read on to learn why you should always call the professionals about rodent problems in your Virginia home.
There are thousands of species of rodents throughout the world, but far fewer number attempt to invade homes in Virginia. In fact, just two are responsible for the vast majority of rodent infestations.
As you might have already suspected, the two types of rodents most likely to get into your house are mice and rats.
Two types of mice and two types of rats are likely to infest your Virginia home.
As their name implies, house mice love to live in houses. Although they can survive outdoors, they usually reside in structures of some kind and prefer dark, secluded areas where they can build their nests out of nearby materials, such as cotton, insulation, paper products, and other soft materials.
Living in groups with a well-defined social structure, a mischief of mice is typically made up of a dominant male, beta males, and many females.
The typical female house mouse can have a litter of babies every three weeks, with about half a dozen babies in each litter.
House mice are small, usually only around 2 ½ to 3 ½ inches long, with dusty gray bodies and creamy white bellies. They have large ears, pointed noses, and fur-covered tails. Although they prefer grains and seeds, they’ll eat almost anything found in your house.
The term “field mouse” is a broad term for a number of different types of mice, but it most often is used interchangeably with deer mice. Field mice are not as likely to infest your home as house mice, but they still occasionally find their way inside.
They are also more likely to be found in out-buildings, such as sheds or garages, than inside residential dwellings. If they do get into your house, they’ll try to find a place that is secluded, such as the attic.
With similar social structures and breeding habits as house mice, field mice will not enter your home and live there alone. Instead, they will come in as a group and rapidly reproduce.
Three to four inches in length, field mice have brown fur with whitish underbellies. They have a pointed nose and large eyes and ears. Field mice eat nuts, seeds, insects, and fruit.
As their name suggests, roof rats prefer to find their lodging in the upper parts of structures, finding their way inside from the roof - usually accessing it from tree limbs nearby. They are excellent climbers, but can also be found under structures, within wood piles, or in other similar areas.
Like mice, roof rats live in groups. Although the lifespan of a roof rat is only about one year, they can have as many as 40 offspring within that time frame.
Roof rats are larger than mice, growing from around six to eight inches in length. Long and thin, they have brown and black fur, long hairless tails, and large eyes and ears.
Although they prefer to feed on foods like nuts, berries, and seeds, roof rats will eat almost anything, including insects and fish.
Although they can climb, Norway rats are not as nimble as roof rats and prefer finding shelter on the ground level or below. Often found in basements, they’ll look for debris or materials where they can build a secluded nest.
Like the other rodents, Norway rats are social creatures with the ability to breed at a rapid rate. Litters have an average of eight babies and female Norway rats can have up to seven litters a year.
Larger than roof rats, Norway rats grow up to nearly ten inches in length. They have brown fur with bits of black fur mixed in and a gray or white underbelly.
They have thicker bodies than roof rats, smaller eyes and ears, and a blunt nose. Norway rats prefer meats and cereals, but will eat almost anything they come across.
Even if they didn’t cause problems, most people would agree that they don’t want rodents moving into their Virginia homes. Unfortunately though, if rodents get into your house, they will cause problems, most of which are quite serious.
For starters, they’ll want to build a nest, but will need to acquire materials in order to do so. They’ll find these materials throughout your house by nibbling away pieces of clothing and other fabrics, tearing out sections of insulation, and shredding parts of cardboard boxes.
The destruction doesn’t end there however. Rodents have front teeth that continue to grow throughout their lives. Because of this, they need to chew on a regular basis to make sure the teeth don’t grow too long or unmanageable.
If rodents get into your house, you can expect them to do substantial damage to the many surfaces and objects they gnaw on. While some of this damage is minor, such as nibbling a hole in a storage container, some of it can lead to major problems. If they chew through wiring, they could cause a fire. If they chew through pipe work, they may cause water leaks, damage, mold, or flooding.
Another way rodents damage your home is through their waste products. Rodents will urinate and defecate in any location, which will damage the areas where they move around. Of course, the worst of these areas will be at their nesting sites, but everywhere they move around your house is likely to be affected.
In addition to being destructive, rodents are also dangerous. Waste products rodents leave behind are not only a problem due to the damage they cause; they’re also a health problem. Rodent feces is often left on countertops, in cabinets and food stores, and on food prep areas, leading to food contamination and illness.
Furthermore, rodent feces and urine can have particles that become airborne and cause respiratory problems for people. Deer mice, in particular, are a danger because they can spread Hantavirus, a virus that causes severe respiratory symptoms and often leads to death.
Rodents are also a danger to your health in the rare event that you get close enough to one to get bitten or scratched. While this is rarer, it is a definite possibility, especially if you’re trying to get rid of them on your own.
Although it might not seem like good news, the silver lining of a rodent infestation in your Virginia home is that it’s relatively easy to identify. Although you might not notice the moment a rodent gets into your house, it won’t be long before you are made aware of their presence.
This is a good thing because the earlier you get rid of a rodent infestation, the less damage and potential harm they can cause.
Signs of a rodent infestation include:
Finding droppings throughout your house
Discovering holes gnawed in cardboard boxes, food containers, and more
Seeing greasy rub marks along the bottom of your walls or baseboards
Hearing noises within your walls or ceiling
Finding nests or nesting materials in secluded locations, such as in attics, basements, or behind appliances
Seeing rodents themselves
When a rodent infestation occurs, most homeowners are tempted to try to eliminate it on their own. They assume that the one rodent they saw in their kitchen is probably the only one in their house and it will be quick, easy, and cheap to catch it and move on with their life. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case.
If you have one rodent in your house, it is likely that there are many more that you just don’t see. Because of both their social and prolific natures, rodents will not move into your house alone and they will begin to breed rapidly once inside.
In a relatively short period of time, you could have dozens of rats or mice in your house. That alone makes it difficult to eliminate a rodent infestation on your own.
Furthermore, there’s more to getting rid of rodents than setting out a few traps. Although this method can yield some results, it won’t eliminate the entire colony. Rodents are smart and cautious. They’ll avoid a trap if they catch the faintest whiff of a former occupant on it.
Even if they venture close to check out the bait, they can often figure out ways to get the bait without triggering the trap.
Trying to get rid of rodents on your own can also be dangerous. Poison is commonly used, but if the directions aren’t carefully followed, it can be accessed by children or pets. More hands-on approaches to rodent control could lead to getting bitten or scratched which, while painful enough on their own, can also lead to serious illnesses.
Even if you are somehow able to get all of the rodents out of your house, you then have the difficult task of figuring out how they got inside in the first place. If you skip this step, you’ll soon have a new infestation to deal with. Since mice need an opening only as large as a dime to get inside, you may have a tough time determining the entry points they used.
Don’t think rat entry points are any easier to distinguish; they can fit through a hole the size of a nickel.
Your best bet when dealing with a rodent infestation is to get the help of the professionals to eliminate it. At American Pest, we have been stopping rodent infestations for nearly 100 years.
In that time, we’ve developed a rodent control process that thoroughly eliminates and prevents rodent infestations in five steps:
Inspection, including identifying entry points
Sealing entry points
Installing rodent bait stations
Interior and exterior rodent treatments
Follow-up inspection and treatments
By choosing American Pest to take care of your rodent problem, you can avoid the many pitfalls of do-it-yourself rodent control. Knowing you’re in the capable hands of an experienced and fully trained rodent control specialist also allows you to let go of the stress of battling a rodent infestation on your own.
Don’t wait for rodents to damage your home and cause illness for your family. Contact American Pest at the first signs of a rodent infestation and we’ll eliminate it in its entirety while also making sure it doesn’t return.