Though catching mice has been a popular theme in games and cartoons for decades, preventing rodent invasions is not child’s play. Even the most fastidious homeowners can fall victim to a pest invader at some point.
Research by the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) reveals that invasive rodents have broken into 29 percent of U.S. homes, bringing with them a slew of health and property hazards. Forty-five percent of those homeowners said the infestation occurred in the fall and winter months.
The two rodent species most commonly found in homes are the house mouse and the Norway rat.
House mice are the most common invasive rodents, with females producing up to a dozen offspring in as little as three weeks. House mice will eat many kinds of food, and they boast excellent climbing and jumping skills. House mice construct nests using paper products and other materials. They also carry several diseases and their urine and feces can trigger allergies and asthma, especially in children.
Norway rats, much like roof rats, are nocturnal and social, burrowing closely to one another. Norway rats are credited with the ability to gnaw through plastic and lead piping to find food and water. These rats are also known to chew through electrical wires, putting homes at risk for fires.
The NPMA offers these tips to help homeowners keep rodents rummaging out in nature – not in the kitchen pantry:
1. Investigate your home from the outside. As mice can enter through an opening as small as a dime, seal all holes and replace loose mortar and weather stripping. Use steel wool to close gaps.
2. Store firewood at least 20 feet from your home and at least 5 feet off the ground.
3. Screen attic vents and openings to chimneys, which could allow unwanted guests into your home.
4. Landscape with pests in mind by trimming back shrubbery and tree branches, which could provide pathways into the home.
5. Use proper storage in the kitchen, basements and attics to prevent rodents from having easy access to food and nesting in cupboards and boxes.
For more information about rodents and to find a pest professional in your area, visit www.pestworld.org.