Did you hear that? What’s that scratching noise? Most people don’t think about is the threat posed by rodents to both your health and property. Rodents invade approximately twenty-one million homes in the United States each winter. A rodent infestation can cause more than just a headache for homeowners.
During the colder months, rodents such as mice and rats search for food, warmth and shelter indoors. Often, they enter homes through small cracks and crevices. Mice can fit through a hole the size of a dime. However, the real concern is that these pests can spread diseases and cause serious property damage once inside. Rodents can cause significant structural damage by chewing through materials such as plastic, wood and sheet rock as well as chew through wiring, putting buildings at risk of electrical fires.
Mice and rats can transmit two hundred pathogens and thirty-five diseases. Rodent droppings can spread diseases and viruses, such as Hantavirus, Bubonic Plague, and Salmonellosis. Hantavirus is a potential life-threatening disease transmitted to humans by rodents. This disease is primarily spread by the white-footed deer mouse. People become infected through the exposure or inhalation of the infected rodent urine, droppings or saliva. Bubonic Plague, also known as the “Black Death”, is a highly contagious and often deadly disease that was notorious for killing approximately one-third of the European population during the Middle Ages. Salmonellosis is a type of food poisoning spread by rodent feces, especially through the consumption of contaminated food. Diseases carried by rodents can also be spread to humans indirectly, through ticks, mites or fleas that have fed on an infected rodent.
It’s also important for homeowners to be aware of other signs of rodents, such as scampering sounds in ceilings, droppings found in undisturbed places or partially eaten food in the kitchen.
Here are some tips to help prevent rodent infestations:
- Insert door sweeps and repair damaged screens
- Place screen on vents and openings to chimneys
- Seal up cracks and holes on the outside of the home
- Replace loose mortar and weather stripping
- Store food in airtight containers and dispose of garbage regularly
- Keep attics, basements and crawl spaces well-ventilated and dry
- Repair leaking pipes and clogged drains
- Inspect all packaging for damage prior to bringing them inside your home
- Store firewood at least 20 feet away from the home
- Place rodent stations around the exterior perimeter of the home