Category Archives: Rodents

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.

Keeping pets safe from rodent and raccoon infestations

Raccoons, mice, rats and other critters can be a nuisance to homeowners. They wreak havoc on garbage cans, damage property and can cause destruction in attics and roofs if they decide to nest inside a home. While annoying, rodents and their relatives can also be be very dangerous to household pets. 

The risks
Raccoons and rats can carry diseases such as rabies, roundworm, canine distemper and leptospirosis which can be spread to pets through contaminated fecal matter, urine, water and bites. This puts outdoor animals like dogs and cats at serious risk of infection and in some cases, these diseases can be fatal for man's best friend.

Rats and mice can act as hosts to a myriad of fleas, mites and ticks which can infect pets and transmit disease through blood exchange. Even though outdoor cats sometimes hunt smaller rodents, pet owners should keep their furry friends away from these potentially dangerous pests and vigilantly monitor their skin for signs of bites or parasites.

In addition to spreading disease, rodents can be dangerously unpredictable. While some larger pests may not display aggressive behavior immediately, they can become very hostile around other animals. To avoid inadvertently putting pets in harm's way, homeowners should keep a close eye on any suspected infestations in the yard or indoors, and ensure their animals have up-to-date vaccinations to prevent disease.

Keeping pests at bay
Raccoons and rodents are omnivorous, meaning they'll eat nearly anything – including trash and pet food. Homeowners should always tie garbage bags tightly to avoid making their waste an easy meal and it's also a good idea to vigilantly secure trash can lids and place bins behind a gate or door. It's important to feed pets indoors to avoid luring raccoons or other pests into the backyard. Homeowners should inspect their yards before nightfall to ensure no bones or treats are left outside to attract unwelcome critters.

Preventing a problem
Because raccoons and many rodents are nocturnal, homeowners can avoid contact between pests and pets by keeping dogs and cats indoors at night, but they should keep in mind pests can access homes through pet doors and take necessary measures to secure these entry points overnight.

It's important to remember the dangers pests present to animals can also affect humans, especially small children. Scare tactics such as bright lights and loud noises only work to keep critters away temporarily and larger female animals with litters, such as mother raccoons, are especially aggressive. Raccoons and rodents that are active during the day and don't seem afraid of humans may have rabies, a disease which poses a threat to both pets and humans. In order to protect their pets, families and residences from a potentially dangerous infestation, homeowners should call a rodent control professional at the first sign of a pest problem.

Hurricane displaces rats

A massive hurricane has rocked communities along the East Coast and it may be bad news for those fearful of pest problems. Rodents may be a big issue for residents heading back to New York City once the streets are free from water and debris. The need for rodent control may grow in the coming weeks as rats move into new homes and stir up trouble for residents.

Chased out of their habitats
The majority of the rats that call the New York subway home have likely been displaced, since the subway system flooded and forced them to move to drier areas to survive. While some residents may have hopes that many of the pests drowned and won't be a nuisance any longer, this likely isn't the case. Rats are able to swim and climb, making it probable that most escaped the rising water in the subway tunnels.

Moving and spreading disease
Because the rodents were pushed out of their homes underground, they'll be seeking new homes once the flooding lets up. A local pest control expert told the Huffington Post that if the storm disrupted the rats to a great extent, they may begin to invade areas they never previously lived in, meaning more people throughout the city may soon be having problems with rodent infestations. Rats driven out of their homes by water may be sneaking into apartment buildings, offices and homes causing trouble for residents.

Rat movement isn't a mere annoyance – it can also be a potential health hazard. Rodents are notorious for carrying serious illnesses that can be fatal in humans, and the first sign of a home infestation should be taken very seriously. Humans that come into contact with rodents, their droppings or their urine could become infected with a variety of diseases such as the plague, salmonella, hantavirus and typhus. The threat of these illnesses should be taken seriously and always handled by a medical professional.

Handling the problem
As residents begin to make their way home once the storm clears, they'll need to keep a close watch to ensure their homes and offices aren't infested with disease-carrying rodents. As soon as a problem is discovered, it needs to be reported to pest control professionals who are experienced in handling rodent infestations. Once an exterminator removes the problem, residents can breathe easily once again.

Plague worries residents

Some California residents are worried about rodent control near their homes. Several critters in the state have tested positive for the bubonic plague, a disease that wiped out entire communities hundreds of years ago. Many are concerned about becoming infected with the disease, or putting their families and pets at risk, but with basic knowledge, most should be able to avoid coming down with the illness.

What is the plague and how does it spread?
The plague has been around for hundreds of years and can be carried by mice, rats, chipmunks and squirrels. The disease can be transmitted by fleas or rodents, and even though it's typically treatable, it can sometimes be fatal. For this reason, it's essential to take steps to prevent becoming infected with the plague.

Symptoms of the plague include fever, swollen lymph nodes and weakness. Those suffering from such symptoms should see a physician to ensure their illness isn't the plague.

Preventing disease
One of the most important steps in staying plague-free is keeping homes free of rodents. Rats and mice can easily find their way into homes, and frequently do so to find shelter as the temperature drops throughout the autumn and winter. Cracks and holes should be sealed up as soon as they are noticed to prevent rodents from entering residences and potentially bringing disease with them. Food should be sealed to keep pests from sneaking inside for a meal.

Even if a home is free from pests, that doesn't necessarily mean its residents have no cause for concern. Precautions should still be taken to ensure no family member contracts this serious illness. Children should be warned to stay away from rodents while playing outside, and they should be instructed to never pick up or touch any wild animals – even rodents that look healthy could be carrying the plague. Burrows in backyards should be fenced off so pets can't start digging in them and chasing rodents, and family pets should visit the vet consistently to ensure they will always be protected against fleas that can spread the illness.

Once a rodent problem is noticed, it's important to immediately contact pest control professionals to handle the problem. Whether a homeowner has discovered droppings, nibbled food or a live rat, it's essential to have the situation taken care of as soon as possible. A rodent problem can get worse quickly, and having an exterminator take care of the issue right away will help to prevent the spread of disease and the other problems that come with a rodent infestation.

Hurricanes could bring pest problems

Hurricanes have the potential to seriously disrupt everyday life. When a storm hits an area, its strong winds, rain and resulting flooding can cause major damage to a community. However, there's another way hurricanes can damage an area – by bringing in an influx of pests. With Hurricane Sandy threatening part of the country, these storm-related issues are a concern for many on the East Coast.

After a storm, many return to their homes to find damage from water or wind, but they may not be expecting to discover a problem with insects, as well. Because hurricanes and other storms can displace or disorient wildlife, the potential of bug problems goes up drastically. The South Carolina Department of Public Health and Environmental Control reported that the frequency of insect bites can increase by up to 50 percent after a storm.

Insect issues
Once homeowners are sure it's safe to return to their residences, there are several things they can do to reduce the risk of unwelcome pests invading their houses. Downpours can increase the number of mosquitoes in an area, so it's essential to drain any standing water to eliminate breeding areas. Even if there are no puddles around, it's still important to take precautions, as mosquitoes can carry diseases. Making sure screens are free from rips is key to prevent the pests from entering a home, and when going outside residents should always wear bug repellent to keep the mosquitoes from biting.

Rodent invasions
Rodents can also be a concern for communities after a hurricane hits. While winds are high, trash may be blown about, which attracts rats to an area. Upon returning to their residence, homeowners should make sure there is no trash or food outside their homes to keep the critters at bay. Any holes or cracks caused by storm damage should be sealed as soon as possible – it's not hard for a rodent to sneak into a residence through a small crevice.

If homeowners return to their communities after a hurricane to find that insects and rodents have taken over, it's essential to bring in a professional exterminator. Because many pests can carry disease, they need to be removed from homes as quickly as possible. Without taking care of the issue in a timely fashion, residents may only find that the problem will get worse over the coming days and weeks. A pest control professional can help to ensure unwelcome critters are eliminated from a household, and that it is habitable once more.

Rodents abound on East Coast

Residents on the East Coast appear to be dealing with large numbers of rodents these days. From college students to working professionals, it seems that many are unable to escape the pests that are plaguing urban areas, and plenty of people are fed up with the mice or rats they're discovering in their homes.

Rodents on the rise
People living in the Boston area are becoming concerned with the number of rats invading their neighborhoods, while the critters are also making their way into homes and businesses. Aside from coming indoors, they're also making nests, holes and burrows in backyards and open spaces.

Busy neighborhoods around Boston aren't the only areas seeing large rodent populations. The Harvard Crimson reported that students around Cambridge are also finding more rodent infestations than usual. Students claim to have found rodents all over campus, both inside and out. They've also been spreading to the local train station.

The Harvard Crimson referenced local pest control expert George Williams who said the large rodent population is because the Greater Boston is a very old urban area.

"There are tunnels that lead to tunnels that lead to even more tunnels that we don't even know about," he said to the paper.

New York City is also having a problem with rodents, and one resident is taking advantage of the issue to exercise his terriers, some of whom were bred for ratting in the past. He has the dogs chase down the rodents, even if they don't catch many, New York NBC affiliate WNBC reported.

People in the Boston area are dealing with the pests in more traditional ways – by setting traps, keeping their homes and gardens free from resources rodents need and by calling exterminators if the problem gets out of hand.

Keeping rodents at bay
There's nothing more startling for a homeowner than finding a rodent lurking in a corner of their home. While mice and rats typically aren't very aggressive, their presence can still be dangerous. They can carry diseases, contaminate food and reproduce quickly, making it essential to get rid of the critters before the problem gets out of control or a family member falls ill. Residents who notice signs of an infestation shouldn't hesitate to contact pest control professionals who can handle the situation and rid a home of rodents.