Washington D.C.'s Ultimate Rodent Prevention Guide

02/10/2020


Home Pest Control    Rodents   
rat in a rusty pipe

You’re enjoying a quiet evening by reading in bed before turning in for the night. A small sound catches your attention for a moment, but you ignore it. A moment later you hear it again. This time you set your book down and listen. It’s a light scratching sound, but where is it coming from? Outside? You listen harder and hear it again, this time a little louder. It’s definitely not coming from outside. In fact, it sounds like it’s coming from your ceiling. Sure enough, the more you listen, the more sure you are. There is something moving around in your ceiling.

While any number of pests could have gotten into your house, you will likely hear rodents scratching and moving around at night. In some instances, you won’t hear rodents in your home, but you’ll discover their existence in other ways. Maybe you’ll find packages in your pantry with holes in them or find small black pellets on your counters or in your cupboards. However you discover them, one thing remains the same: If you have rodents in your Washington D.C. home, you need to get rid of them as quickly as possible. American Pest’s ultimate rodent prevention guide will help.

Washington D.C.’s Most Common Rodents

Although mice are fairly common in Washington D.C., it's no secret that rats have been an ever growing problem in the area in recent years. However, there is more than one species of mice and rats, and it helps to understand which ones are most problematic in D.C. 

House Mice

House mice are the most common species of mice to give D.C. residents’ trouble. Although they can live outdoors, they prefer structures, especially homes that provide a steady source of food and water. House mice like to nest in dark, secluded areas, so you’re likely to find their nests in your attic or within wall voids if they get into your house.
House mice are usually gray with cream colored underbellies. They have pointed noses, large ears, and range in size from 2 ½” to 3 ¾” long. Their tails add another 2 ¾” to 4” to their total length.

Norway Rats

Norway rats are the most common type of rat to be found in Washington D.C. You may know them as sewer rats. While they are quite comfortable living outdoors the majority of the time, they often find their way into homes when fall and winter arrive. Unlike roof rats, Norway rats prefer to stay at ground level or below, so they often build their nests in basements.

Norway rats have brown fur with some black hairs mixed in. Their bellies are a lighter shade, ranging from light gray to cream. They have small eyes and ears and are about 7 to 9 inches long, with tails that are shorter than their body length.

What Makes Rodents Dangerous

Rodents are dangerous for a few different reasons and on a few different levels. First, they cause a lot of damage to the places they frequent. Rodents gnaw on almost any object they can get their teeth on, which means that once they get into your house, they’re going to damage your belongings. That’s the least of your worries, though. 
In order to get into your house, rodents will often chew through weak areas around the exterior of your home until they make a hole big enough to squeeze through. Since mice can fit through a hole the size of a dime, and rats can fit through a hole the size of a quarter, this doesn’t take much time. Not only do they put holes in your house, but once inside, they’ll chew through drywall, insulation, wiring, pipes, ductwork, and more. This damage goes beyond an annoyance as it can be a fire hazard, cause water leaks and damage, initiate mold growth, and more.

A damaged home and belongings are only one way that rodents are dangerous. They also are a major health hazard for the people living in your home. Rodents leave their droppings behind wherever they go, including in cabinets, on countertops, and on food preparation areas. When you come in contact with this contaminated excrement, either through direct contact or through the excrement coming in contact with your food, you can end up getting sick. Rodents are known to transmit many illnesses, including salmonellosis, rat bite fever, hantavirus, and more.

Rodents can also bring parasites into your house. Mice and rats are common hosts to fleas, ticks, and mites, to name a few. Once they get inside your home, the parasites will make their way to you and your family members, causing illnesses of their own.

What Attracts Rodents To Your Washington D.C. Home

Typically, rodents are attracted to homes in the fall and winter when the weather cools down. Their summer nesting area isn’t as warm as it once was and food supplies are becoming more scarce as the temperatures drop. There are three major things rodents look for when trying to find a place to spend the winter: Food, water, and shelter. These are the three main things they need for survival, and since your home provides all three, once they get inside they’ll be content to remain there as long as possible.

The best way to keep rodents out of your Washington D.C. home is to make it as unattractive to them possible. Although eliminating food, water, or your home itself is obviously not an option, you can take steps to reduce the chances of these animals wanting to get into your house. These steps begin outside and work their way into your home.

  • Eliminate obvious outdoor food sources, such as pet dishes left on porches or bird feeders in your yard.

    If you have garbage bins outside, make sure they have tightly fitting lids and are not stored directly beside your house.

  • Eliminate areas of standing water outside your house, such as items that collect rain water, low spots that allow puddling, clogged gutters, and bird baths.

  • Shut off outdoor water spigots during the winter or ensure that they do not drip.

  • Keep your yard tidy to make it difficult for rodents to hide near your house. This includes keeping grass trimmed, removing debris such as branches and leaves, and trimming bushes around the perimeter of your house.

  • Make sure you don’t have easy entry points into your house (see the next section for more information).

    Inside, don’t leave food out on counters.

  • Keep pantry and cupboard items stored in airtight containers made of glass or hard plastic that isn’t easily chewed through.

  • Remove the garbage frequently.

  • Clean up after every meal, washing dishes, wiping down counters, and sweeping the floor to avoid any food crumbs or spills being left behind.

  • Check on a regular basis for drippy faucets or leaking pipes and fix any that you find.

  • Reduce clutter to eliminate hiding and nesting areas.

How To Identify And Seal Up Potential Entry Points

If a rodent can’t find a way into your house, you’ve won 90% of the battle, as dealing with rodents outside is far easier than dealing with them once they get into your home. In order to prevent them from getting inside, you need to make sure that your house does not have any weak areas that could become entry points. Some of these areas are obvious, but others are more difficult to find and control.

Start by doing a complete inspection of the outside of your house. Look at your foundation, siding, doors, windows, and roof. Look for holes, cracks, gaps, and damage of any kind. Since mice can fit through a hole the size of a dime and will chew through any space to make it larger, don’t ignore any area of potential concern.

  • Fill holes with steel wool and a caulking compound.
  • Seal cracks with caulk.
  • Repair loose shingles and damaged siding.
  • Replace torn door or window screens.
  • Cover all openings on vents with wire mesh.
  • Cap your chimney

When And Why You Should Call The Professionals

Even when you do your best to make your home unattractive to rodents and take every step possible to seal up potential entry points, rodents still sometimes find their way inside. If you are dealing with a rodent infestation, it’s time to call the professionals.

Rodents are not a pest you want to try to get rid of on your own. First, you have to think about the risks to your own health and safety. If your elimination efforts put you in close proximity to them, you could end up getting scratched or bitten.

There’s also the fact that many DIY methods of rodent control are not very successful. Traps may catch a mouse or rat here and there, but they rarely eliminate the entire problem. Poisons are dangerous to family members and pets if not used correctly. Adopting a cat is no guarantee of a rodent-free home and is a decision that should probably be made at a less stressful time.

When you contact American Pest, you can rest assured that you’ll receive the care of trained professionals who have years of experience treating rodent problems just like yours. We don’t simply set some traps and leave it at that. Instead, we take a comprehensive approach to rodent control, beginning with a thorough inspection of the interior and exterior of your home to determine where the rodents are and how they’re getting in. We then discuss treatment options with you to decide what the best course of action is, not only to eliminate your rodent problem, but also to determine what works best for you. We’ll put that plan into action, returning on a regular basis until your rodent problem is completely eliminated. We also provide exclusion work to seal entry points, which helps prevent future infestations.

A rodent infestation is a cause for concern, but you don’t have to remain worried. With American Pest by your side, you’ll receive the rodent control you need to eliminate your problem and prevent it from returning. If you suspect that rodents have gotten into your Washington D.C. home, contact American Pest to schedule an appointment today.






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