Thursday, October 6, 2011

Drought Causing Issues with Rats and Mice

Pest management professionals and homeowners agree, rats and mice seem worse this year than in past years. In fact, some pest management professionals have noticed their calls on rodents are three to four times higher than they have ever been. And, we have the drought to thank for it.

Dry weather makes us water a little more often, and that standing water can be an attractant for rodents. Lack of habitat and shelter, because native grasses and such are dead is another likely reason for the increase. And just like us, rodents are attracted to the cool indoors during the heat.

It is important to remember that exclusion is the KEY to rodent management. If you can squeeze the tip of your pinky finger into a hole, a mouse can also fit its body. An opening 1/4 inch in diameter is enough room for mice, and not much larger than that, for rats.

Steel wool, mesh screens, and caulk are all good tools to use to close up those holes. If you don't think you are catching every opening, contact someone who does this for a living. Trust me, its not as easy as you think.

There are three basic types of rodents who will move indoors: House Mouse, Roof Rat, and Norway Rat.

The house mouse is a small rodent, but they can reproduce very quickly. They can nest in the garage, closets, attic, or any other location that has food, water and shelter. Bird seed and dog and cat food are common food sources indoors. They also don't need much water to survive, they usually get enough moisture from their food.

Roof rats are larger than mice, have pointed noses and tails as long as their body or longer. They can live in trees and jump from trees to your roof and into the attic. If you hear something scurrying above you, they are likely Roof Rats.

Norway Rats are much larger, they have blunt noses and a tail that isn't as long as the body. These guys seem like super-rats because their size is so large. They prefer to nest on the ground, but can climb, and can swim!

The key is to figure out where they seem to be nesting. Look for droppings, use a black light and look for urine stains. They are creatures of habit, they will follow the same path constantly, so look for black smudges where they rub their bodies.

Use sticky or snap traps, so that you can throw them out when they are full. Baits are getting harder to purchase as a homeowner, and you cannot purchase large amounts at one time now. If you have a severe infestation, it is really best to use a pest management professional.

A combination of exclusion practices is extremely important, or you'll never really control the problem.