Category Archives: Rodents

One House Mouse Can Quickly Become Bigger Problem, Pose Risk to Health and Property

Some think that they’re cute, but they scare the wits out of others. However you feel about mice, one thing is clear: If you see one or evidence of one in your home, it’s better to act quickly to get rid of them. Otherwise, the little fury critters can wreak havoc in your home and pose a health risk to you and your family.

As the most common mammal in the country, we all will most likely encounter mice at some point. The colder fall and winter months are the time when mice and other rodents look to come inside warm structures searching for food and protection against the freezing temperatures. Each year, an estimated 21 million invade homes across the country, according the National Pest Management Association.

They’re hungry little critters, too. Mice eat between 15 to 20 times a day, so they prefer to be near food. They can also jump about a foot into the air, giving them the ability to hop up onto counters or pantries. Their tiny bodies can fit through an opening the size of a dime, making any crack or small opening to the outside an entry point into your home.

While mice don’t live a long time, about five months in the wild, they make up for that by having a lot of baby mice fast. A female mouse can give birth starting at two months old and can have about a dozen babies every three weeks. If you spotted one mouse in the house, there are probably others lurking nearby, and it can quickly become a bigger infestation if it’s not properly addressed.

Mice also like to gnaw on electrical wiring, causing damage that can lead to a greater risk of an electrical fire. Beyond that, mice can carry as many as 200 disease-causing organisms, such as the Hantavirus and Salmonella.

Simple preventative measure can help keep mice and other rodents outside in the cold. Truly Nolen recommends homeowners take the following steps to protect their property and their family’s health:

  • Install door sweeps on exterior doors and repair damaged screens.
  • Screen vents and openings to chimneys.
  • Seal cracks and holes on the outside of the home, including areas where utilities and pipes enter the home, using caulk, steel wool or a combination of both.
  • Keep a close eye on the garage. As it is hard to seal up adequately, mice can move in here easily, readily accessing the rest of the house with ease.
  • Store food in airtight containers and dispose of garbage regularly.
  • Keep attics, basements and crawl spaces well ventilated and dry.
  • Replace loose mortar and weather stripping around the basement foundation and windows.
  • Eliminate all moisture sites, including leaking pipes and clogged drains that provide the perfect breeding site for pests.
  • Store firewood at least 20 feet away from the house and keep shrubbery trimmed and cut back from the house.
  • If you suspect a pest infestation in your home, contact a licensed pest professional to inspect and treat the pest problem.

San Francisco food distributor reopens after rodent infestation

A food distributor in San Francisco was forced to close down and perform a massive recall after two employees leaked information about the rodent-infested condition of the facility. The employees detailed the unsanitary conditions, describing rodents living, breeding and leaving droppings in many of the foods in the warehouse that were later repackaged for sale. Once the Department of Health became aware of the situation, the retailer was forced to shut down until professional pest control was able to take care of the situation.

Infestation
The facility was allowed to reopen only after extensive extermination took place. A professional on-site noted that rats and mice were able to get inside the facility through the walls which were full of cracks and holes large enough for the rodents. Once all the entryways for the mice were sealed, the exterminators had to eliminate the rest of the rodent population. The population of rodents inside the facility had been booming due to the abundance of food and space. 

Threat of disease
The employees who informed the Department of Health about the violations claimed that the mice were largely ignored by building management. They described finding mice and rodents everywhere in the building and were instructed to remove the mice only when found dead. Rodents carry a wide variety of communicable diseases and allowing them to reside near or come in contact with food poses a major health threat to consumers. Both live mice and their droppings can carry over 30 diseases that can spread to humans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These diseases can be spread through handling the rodents, coming in physical contact with droppings, inhaling airborne dropping dust and through ticks and mites that live on the mice. 

The CDC suggests that the best way to eliminate any threat of exposure to these diseases is to avoid coming in contact with mice at all. However, if mice have already come in contact with food, it should be thrown away immediately.  

The fact that the food retailer did not discard the food that had come in contact with rodents was its largest error. Now that it has sought the help of professional exterminators, the facility is now awaiting approval from the Department of Health to reopen.

Michigan residents try to keep rats out of their homes

Residents in a Michigan town near Detroit have been hit with a huge influx of rats – so many that the town legislature is considering offering $5 for each dead rat brought in by citizens, reports local Fox affiliate WJBK. Residents are scrambling to find ways of preventing rats from entering their homes and contaminating their food and possessions, as well as effective means of pest control.

Keeping rats out
There are several ways to keep rats and other rodents from entering the home. In Detroit as well as many other parts of the country, the winter is frigid which affects both humans and rats alike. Rodents will seek out any warm shelter they can find, and they are skilled at finding entry points. Rats have nearly collapsible skeletons and can fit in any hole that is larger than their head (about the size of a quarter) so the best step is to plug any and all holes through which the pests could fit. 

Feeling for air movement can also reveal an entryway for a rat, a report from Popular Mechanics details. It is important to go around the house and find any vulnerability to rats and other rodents. Also important are windows and doors – any crack in the framing should be sealed. All doors should close flush against the frame and be sealed tight. Vents for driers and air conditioners can also allow rodents into the home, but are easily blocked with screens. 

Keeping them away
Rats and other small mammals are attracted to the bounty of free food that is provided by an uncovered garbage can or a backyard garden, so tying down all garbage can lids with weighted bungee cords can help keep rats from coming back. Gardens are best kept several feet away from the house in order to prevent rodents from dashing into an open door or window. 

Piles of unattended boxes, lumber or other refuse will provide a shelter to rats that are trying to stay out of the cold. The rodents won’t have as easy an opportunity to settle when the yard is kept free of refuse.

Rat traps are inexpensive but vary in effectiveness depending on the environment. Professional pest control is required in many cases.

Rodent droppings a serious health hazard

A daycare owner in Texas recently came under fire for having rodent droppings scattered on the floor of the business, something that health officials consider to be a serious health risk, according to Valleycentral.com. The owner and operator of the daycare declined to comment on the situation, saying that it was taken care of but was mandated to bring in professional pest control to fumigate. 

If left unchecked, rodents and their droppings can constitute a serious health risk to humans, especially children. Ever since plague-infected rats infested ships in the Middle Ages, rats and other rodents have been notorious for the spread of disease, and for good reason. According the CDC, rodent droppings can be responsible for the spread of dozens of diseasesincluding a variety of contagious viruses that are serious risks to health, some potentially fatal if left untreated.

Prevention
Always wash hands thoroughly after any contact with a rodent, wild or domestic. Since humans and rodents share such a wide variety of diseases, it is wise to avoid contact altogether and always wear heavy-duty gloves when coming in contact with rodents and their droppings, says the CDC. It is equally important to avoid allowing any dried droppings to become dust, which can contaminate the air and lungs potentially spreading disease. Spray down any areas that have come in contact with rodents with a mixture of one part bleach per 10 parts water and allow it soak so that any viruses or bacteria will die. Items that cannot be treated with cleansers can be left in the sun for several hours to kill any germs or bacteria. 

The best way to avoid contact with rodent dropping is to remove the pests from the home. Put all foods in glass or plastic containers inside cabinets to hide the scent from rodents. Plug any holes or cracks that are big enough for a rodent to slip through, especially during the winter when they are more likely to enter homes in search of food and warmth.

If the problem is too severe for these measures, it is time to call a commercial exterminator like Truly Nolen. Extermination of rats and other rodents is best left the professionals in extreme cases and, considering the risks, is well worth the phone call.

Fish market in Ontario closed due to rat problem

A popular fish market in Toronto, Ontario, was recently closed because of health code violations, including a rat infestation.

The store, which is located near downtown and typically sells squid, salmon, scallops and other seafood, is rated four out of five stars on Yelp, though the last review was written this time last year. 

Global Toronto reports that a food safety website revealed that the market previously had two conditional passes, but was closed on January 28 for five different infractions, the most revealing of which was a sighting of roughly 15 rats. In an interview​ with the news source, the woman who spotted the rats stated that “you could see them crawling on the sinks on the windows through the back area …” She snapped a photo then posted it online to warn others of the violation. The conditional passes occurred in November of 2012 and in October of 2011. This is the first time that the market has been closed due to a rat problem. 

Rats pose the threat of spreading disease through direct contact, and occasionally cause breathing problems in the areas that they’ve inhabited. They transmit diseases such as the bubonic plague, salmonella, rat-bite fever, leptospirosis, tapeworms and murine typhus.

The market has been open for 50 years, and the owner has expressed concerns about whether or not the business will be able to bounce back. Customers have already begun to cancel their orders, but the Global reports that the market should be able to reopen soon.

Many restaurants and stores close due to infestations of rodents and other pests. Though the shut downs are often temporary (until the shop is cleaned up), many businesses have trouble regaining their reputation. At the first signs of an infestation, a pest control professional should be called to exterminate the critter population.

Roof rats cause trouble for Washington residents

While roof rats are usually only found along the coast of Washington, exterminators are seeing an increase of reported sightings in other parts of the state, local news source Yakima Herald reports.

Officials have yet to determine whether the increase in roof rat calls pest management professionals are receiving is caused by a species population growth or migration. Despite the cause, the rodents are resulting in problems for homeowners throughout the area and an increase in calls to pest control professionals.

Roof rats are named after their tendency to dwell in structure attics, trees and vine-covered fences, the Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Management (ICWDM) states. These pests often enter buildings through roof openings and from overhead utility lines and nearby trees. Roof rats can be extremely troublesome for homeowners as they can gnaw through insulation and wiring, which can result in costly damage and potential health hazards for a family experiencing an invasion.

Preventing an infestation
To avoid luring roof rats into a home, residents can take precautionary measures to pest-proof their property. Because roof rats often eat the pulp of oranges, it's a good idea to clean up any fruit that may have fallen from yard trees. Residents should also trim branches near structures and eliminate brush on their property to eliminate hiding places and routes into the home.

These rats are attracted by water and materials that can be used to build nests. It's therefore a good idea to eliminate moisture and potential harborage throughout the home. Those homeowners who suspect the pests may have gotten into their homes are advised to contact rodent control specialists who can ensure the problem is taken care of promptly. 

Keeping rodents from cozying up in your home this winter

Tis the season to watch out for pests. As temperatures drop during winter months, critters try to make their ways indoors. Rats and mice can infest attics, basements, pantries and improperly stored holiday decorations. If homeowners suspect they're housing unwelcome guests, a pest management professional can address the problem early and effectively. There are several common perpetrators residents should be aware of during this time of year.

House mice
These mice are among the most troublesome rodents in the U.S., according to the University of California's (UC) Integrated Pest Management program (IPM). House mice are about 5 to 7 inches in length and have relatively large ears. These critters are most active at night when they search for food. While they can be found outdoors, house mice enter homes by sneaking through seemingly tiny cracks and crevices in external walls and foundations.

Common signs of house mouse infestations include droppings, gnaw marks and tracks. In addition, they carry a noticeable musky odor, according to the IPM. These mice build nests of shredded paper and other fibrous materials in areas like attic corners.

In addition to bringing fleas, gnats, ticks and lice into the home, the house mice can endanger children, who are susceptible to allergies caused by urine droplets, states the National Pest Management Association (NPMA).

Because house mice can fit through holes the size of a nickel, homeowners should seal all holes that have a diameter larger than a pencil, NPMA recommends. Outdoor drains and gutters should also be thoroughly inspected.

Roof rats
As their name implies, these rodents have a tendency to occupy upper parts of structures. They can enter attics through nearby trees and phone lines, according to the Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Management. They can also be found under and around homes, sheds and other structures. Like house mice, these rats can squeeze through very small holes.

Roof rats can cause extensive damage to wiring, insulation and yards. They're about 6 to 8 inches in length and can be a mix of brown, black, gray and white. They feed off of a variety of fruits and nuts primarily, but they've been known to eat meat products like pet food. It's therefore extremely important for residents to store food in sealed containers and to avoid feeding pets outdoors and leaving food out.

Because these pests tend to live high up in structures, their droppings, urine and nests aren't usually noticeable. Homeowners can look for smudge parks along ceiling beams because roof rats often come into contact with oil and dirt when they travel through aerial passages, the Internet Center states. Another sign of an infestation is sounds in the attic at night.

Roof rats have been associated with a variety of diseases like food poisoning, rat-bite fever, typhus and more. In addition to sealing up holes, homeowners should remove sources of moisture throughout their property to avoid attracting these pests, NPMA suggests. It's also a good idea to keep yards clear of brush and any fruit that falls from trees. In addition, homeowners should cut back and tree limbs and shrubs that are near the house.

Norway rats
Norway rats are very similar in many ways to their roof-dwelling cousins. These brownish, reddish or gray pests are omnivorous and live in and around structures and woodpiles. They can can cause severe damage to foundation, slabs, electrical wires, water pipes and insulation by gnawing and burrowing, according to the Internet Center.

When Norway rats enter a home, they can attack food storage containers and infest dry goods and pet food. They're also known to transmit serious diseases.

If homeowners spot fluorescent dry or wet urine, burrows in walls, along fences and next to buildings, they should contact an exterminator promptly to have their infestation eliminated.

Rat bite fever hits Washington

Residents in Washington last week reported cases of rat bite fever, an illness transmitted by rodents. A press release Friday announced the reports are from the Chelan-Douglas Health District and Grand County.

Rat bite fever is caused by bacteria found naturally in rodents' mouths. The disease can affect humans and pets through bites and contact with urine or secretion from the mouth, eyes or nose of an infected animal.

The disease can be carried by rodents, weasels and feral cats and dogs, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

While there are no known instances of person-to-person transmission, the disease is most commonly seen in children. Symptoms of rat bite fever include chills, fever, joint pain or swelling and rash.

Local newspaper The Wenatchee World warned that disease-carrying rodents could contaminate food, water and unpasteurized milk.

To avoid coming into contact with animals that may carry the bacteria, it's a good idea to seal up any holes or cracks in walls, basements and attics and to eliminate moisture indoors.

Homeowners should also place trash in thick bags  and dump garbage in secure containers. Pet food should never be left outside and all food items indoors should be tightly sealed. If residents suspect a rodent problem, they should contact a pest control professional promptly to avoid property damage and prevent the spread of disease.

Preventing roof rat infestations

As fall quickly turns into winter, many pests attempt to sneak their way into warm homes in search of food and shelter. Roof rats are named after their tendency to infest attics and the upper portions of structures, but they can be found in lower levels of buildings as well. Their tendency to chew up materials and ravage stored food can be extremely troublesome and dangerous for many households. In addition to damaging wiring and insulation, roof rats can spread infectious diseases such as salmonella and rat-bite fever to residents and pets via saliva, urine and droppings. Throughout history, roof rats have also been notorious for spreading plague.

Protecting the home
There are several steps homeowners can take to avoid inviting roof rats into their houses this season. The National Pest Management Association (NPMA) recommends sealing up any holes or cracks larger than a quarter that appear in outdoor walls, piping and foundation.

Like most pests, roof rats look for sources of moisture. It's therefore a good idea to repair leaky faucets, pipes and water heaters. After heavy rain, homeowners may want to inspect attics and basements for water damage. Residents can also purchase a dehumidifier to eliminate moisture buildup.

The NPMA also suggests keeping trees and shrubs trimmed and away from buildings and cleaning up trash outdoors and around areas in which garbage is stored  to avoid attracting roof rats. Homeowners should also always seal trash in bags and place it in tightly covered bins.

Spotting roof rats
There are several noticeable characteristics that can help homeowners identify roof rats. They grow between six and eight inches long, not including their tails, and are usually black or dark brown. The University of Arizona's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences explains roof rats often treck through oil and dirt and leave their traces around rafters and other high places.

Scurrying sounds coming from the attic at night are also a sign of roof rat presence, as these pests search for food after sunset.

Roof rats are attracted to fruit hanging on trees and on the ground nearby. They make small holes in fruit peels to suck out the pulp and leave behind empty rinds, which are sign for property owners with orange trees to look out for. It's a good idea to harvest fruit consistently and to clean up fallen produce to keep the pests from having a food source close to a home. 

Upon noticing these signs or spotting roof rats, homeowners should call an exterminator to eliminate the infestation quickly and efficiently.

Marsh rats plague residents

Residents in areas of South Carolina are reporting increasing numbers of marsh rats, according to The Island Packet.

Local pest control organizations report sending crews to almost every plantation and roughly 50 to 60 homes per week in the area to catch the rodents and prevent them from causing damage to local residences. Some professionals believe because of warmer temperatures last winter, marsh rats were better able to survive. Meanwhile, the large amount of rain this year has provided the water necessary to support a growing population.

However, some local pest management professionals told the newspaper the population hasn't changed since last year, and the large amount of recent sightings can be attributed to high tides bringing the critters closer to coastal homes.

Whether the number of marsh rats has increased or not, the cold weather is sure to push these animals to seek warm havens, such as attics, storage spaces and other parts of homes, making it essential for homeowners to be aware of the pests.   

Rodents cause problems for homeowners
The Island Packet states many residents in Hilton Head Island, Bluffton and surrounding areas are concerned about contracting infectious diseases from the rats. While there have been no recent reports of hantavirus, the disease spreads through rodent droppings, saliva and urine and could show up in the area if pest populations are not kept under control. The illness can turn into Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome, which can be fatal, according to the CDC.

To avoid attracting marsh rats and other rodents into buildings or onto their property, homeowners should fill all gaps and holes in outside walls, around fireplaces and doors and along piping. It's a good idea to place trash in thick plastic or metal garbage cans with strong lids to prevent the critters from seeking food near a home.

Pet food should never be left outside and should be stored in sealed containers indoors. Homeowners may want to clean up trash, brush and weeds and trim their property's grass and shrubbery to eliminate any potential hiding places for pests. According to the CDC, old tires and cars should be disposed of as mice and rats may nest in them.

If homeowners find rodent droppings, they should clean the area cautiously and call an exterminator immediately. This will help residents prevent potential property damage and rodent-related disease.