Why You Shouldn’t Try to Treat Rodent Infestations Alone
We have several rodent pests that are known to invade our Maryland homes. The most common are mice, rats, chipmunks, and squirrels. These rodents can invade during any season, but they are more likely to make their way inside when temperatures drop or the conditions outside become unfavorable.
Well, that begs the question, what is an unfavorable condition? It might be excessive rain that leads to rising flood water that enters rodent holes and drives them out. This can force them into our yards and eventually into our homes.
It might be a new construction site. Rodents don't like the vibrations of heavy machinery or all the digging that happens on most construction sites. This drives them away from these sites and into our yards.
It might be a heat wave. While rodents can usually keep cool inside a hole, sustained hot weather can make them search harder for a cooler place to be. If they find out that your home has air conditioning, they’re going to try to get in. And once they find their way inside, they're not going to want to go back outside.
Sometimes, rodents invade our homes for no other reason than the possibility of a safe harbor. When they do, there are a few common entry points they may exploit.
These tiny animals don't need a large opening to be able to squeeze into a home. Usually, a hole the size of a dime will do. And if they find a hole that is too small, they are equipped with strong front teeth which they can use to chew at those holes until they are large enough for them to get through. You can expect mice to target:
Window and door frames in foundation walls or on the first floor. They are especially drawn to frames that have been rotted by water damage.
Weather stripping or door sweeps. If you have gaps around your doors, you can expect mice to take notice.
Gaps around ground-floor plumbing or electrical conduit. These are common entry points for mice and other rodents.
A gap under the garage entry door. Mice are often small enough to squeeze underneath these doors and into our garage areas where they can then make their way into our homes.
We have two common rats in Maryland. Roof rats prefer to enter homes from high entry points while Norway rats prefer to find their way in through the ground floor. Some of the entry points roof rats exploit are:
The gap around cylindrical plumbing vents on the roof. These vents are for letting sewer gases escape, but they're also helpful for letting roof rats in. When these pipes are installed, the hole in the roof is created much larger than the pipe. Once installed, a rubber gasket is put around the pipe to seal things up. Roof rats can chew through this gasket and get inside your attic voids and, eventually, you're attic spaces.
Where your roof meets your gutters is another popular target for roof rats. They have no problem chewing their way into the eavestrough underneath your shingles to get into your attic voids.
As a home settles, a gap can develop between a chimney stack and the side of a home. Roof rats will take advantage of this gap to get inside.
Openings in roof tiles give access to softer building material beneath and the perfect location for rats to chew through.
Norway rats prefer to live out in our yards and establish burrows under piles of organic debris. However, they can get inside your home and take up residence there. Some of the ways these rats get in are:
Through the entry points mice exploit that are listed above.
By chewing through rotted ground sill plates (also called sole plates). This is the wood just above your foundation wall. If your sill plates are damaged by water, rats, and sometimes mice, will take advantage of these soft, vulnerable locations.
By chewing a door sweep on a garage door or squeezing through a gap around your exterior doors.
By chewing through a meter box that has no cover on it.
By slipping in through a torn or missing crawl space cover.
Chipmunks prefer to live outside, even more than Norway rats. However, they sometimes find their way into our homes when they burrow under a foundation slab, exterior steps, decks, porches, or some other structure. If they do get in, they probably won’t stay long. But there are rare occasions when chipmunks find the right conditions for long-term habitation inside a home.
When squirrels attack a home, they're usually going to do it from a higher location, much like roof rats. Here are some of the ways they get in:
Through the same entry points roof rats exploit listed above.
Through soffits, fascia, and other flimsy plastic or aluminum roofline material, especially in areas of roof-soffit intersection.
Squirrels can jump 10 to 12 feet through the air. This allows them to get to areas of your roof that roof rats cannot. Keep this in mind when applying exclusion installations.
Whether rodents get into your home or not, they can cause problems. They can damage the vegetation in your yard. They can chew holes in the exterior of your home. They can carry fleas, ticks, and other parasites into your yard. And the burrowing activity of Norway rats and chipmunks can damage foundation slaps and lead to structural damages!
But if they do find their way inside, these rodents can damage building materials, insulation, clothing, books, and other personal belongings. They chew holes into furniture to make nests inside. They get into cabinets and chew through cardboard, plastic, and paper containers and contaminate food items. They leave feces and urine everywhere they go, which can present a health issue and create an unpleasant aroma. Mice and rats can drop flea eggs on all your carpets and bring tick nymphs into your living spaces. This can lead to secondary pest infestation and expose everyone in your home to the illnesses these parasites can transmit. Mice and rats are also a mechanical vector for harmful bacteria and are just as comfortable in your trash can as they are in your pantry.
There are many DIY rodent control products on the market, but removing rodents and sealing them out of a home is extremely difficult without training in rodent control and exclusion. Rodents are small, shy, and fast-moving. Some rodents even have an aversion to new things that are placed in their environment, which makes trapping them complicated and frustrating. The best solution when dealing with rodent problems in your home is to have the rodent control team at American Pest deal with those rodents! We use state-of-the-art technology and the most advanced control methods to control and remove rodents and prevent future infestations. Reach out to us and schedule a free estimate to get started!
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