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Rodents: A Homeowner’s Primer…What do you really need to know?

Rodents are a group of nuisance pests that include mice, rats, and squirrels. These animals can contaminate food, damage property, and spread disease. There are many different rodent types and are frequently grouped together based on genetics and similar physical characteristics.  These include:

  • Chipmunks, woodchucks, squirrels, prairie dogs and gophers
  • Common house mice, rats, gerbils, hamsters, lemmings and voles
  • Porcupines, capybaras, agouti, guinea pigs and chinchillas

The rodents that most often come into conflict with people in the United States are:


Rats are instinctively wary of things new to their environment, including control measures such as traps and baits. They colonize in attics, burrows, under concrete and porches, in wall voids and other hard-to-reach places.  Rats can harbor and transmit several serious diseases. They can also introduce into your home disease-carrying parasites such as fleas and ticks.


Mice invade your home seeking food, water, and warmth.  Interestingly, each mouse can contaminate much more food than it eats.

What do rodents look like?

Rodents are warm-blooded mammals that, like humans, can be found throughout the world. They have oversized front teeth for gnawing and others, which are adapted for chewing. Rodents chew on a variety of items available to them and cause great damage in and around homes

Where do they live?

Rodents thrive worldwide in almost every environmental climate with access to food and water.  Because of their small size, they can be difficult to keep out of a home. Rats can get indoors through holes the size of a quarter, while mice can use gaps the size of a dime to enter a home.

Are Rodents Cause for Concern?

In addition to being tough to control, rodents may carry diseases and taint food with waste, fur, and saliva. In fact, mice can contaminate about 10 times the amount of food they eat. The Centers for Disease Control link some rodents to transmitting hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, a disease fatal in about 36 percent of all reported U.S. cases.

Rodents are also hosts for fleas, which can spread plague and diseases like lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus. This illness mostly affects those with weakened immune systems and may result in headaches, fever, and meningitis. It can also cause complications during pregnancy.

It is not advisable to handle any wild rodent. They are equipped with large teeth and can transmit a variety of bacteria, viruses and diseases through their saliva, feces and urine.  If you locate a rodent within your home, it is best to contact a pest management professional for removal and identification. The presence of one rodent within a home could signal an infestation. REMEMBER…keep all children and pets away from the rodent. If cornered, a rodent will bite to defend itself.

Life Cycle
Rodents are rapid breeders; some species breed year-round and are constantly reproducing.  Rats and mice are both extremely destructive within agricultural communities. Several species feed on seeds and grains. The feces and urine of some rodents may contaminate surfaces they contact.

What Can I Do to Prevent Rodent Infestations?

Prevention methods should be implemented early to maintain a rodent-free home. Rodents reproduce rapidly, and small populations become full-blown infestations in very little time.

  1. Food storage

Keep any possible food sources away from rodents. Small crumbs and garbage are popular sources of infestation, as are dry goods such as grains and cereals. These should be kept in sealed metal or glass containers to prevent contamination. Fruits and vegetables should also be stored properly.  Leftover waste should never be left in sinks or on counters.

  1. Cardboard

Cardboard objects prove attractive to rodents, as they tend to chew them up for use in their nests.

  1. Seal openings

Rodents can squeeze through spaces that appear to be much too small for them due to their bodily structure. All holes should be sealed to prevent entry and reentry of rodents.

If necessary, a pest control professional should be contacted for assistance.

Infestations & Control

Rodents are some of the most adaptable creatures on the planet and can be extremely difficult to exterminate.  They can cause considerable damage to infested buildings and local agriculture. From a neighborhood perspective, unified efforts can prove extremely effective in preventing infestations. Within apartment buildings and neighborhoods, coordination of prevention measures may include cleaning efforts and landscape alteration.

Many homeowners may seek homemade solutions to their rodent problems. They may try a variety of repellents such as mothballs or even essential oils. These homemade methods are not capable of addressing full-blown rodent infestations.

Contact a Professional

If you are experiencing a rodent problem we can help!. Not only will we provide an inspection to evaluate your problem, we’ll develop a strategic plan to control and prevent future ones from developing.