It’s a scene straight out of I Love Lucy or The Brady Bunch. A mouse has you cornered, and the only solution is to climb a chair and wait for help. It’s a calamity best left to the sitcoms; after all, you won’t be laughing if you find yourself face-to-face with mice, rats, or furry home invaders of any sort. Rodents are off-putting enough on sight, but did you know they also pose health hazards and can cause property damage? With this in mind, it’s best to confront the problem head-on as soon as possible. You can do more to rid yourself of these pests than just adopt some housecats. Keep reading for how to identify any rodents you come across and the telltale signs of their presence, learn about the property damage they can cause, the health risks associated with them, and how APS pest control treatments can help.
Firstly, know your furry, squeaking enemy. Rodents and their ilk can be a problem for Alabama’s home and business owners year-round, but they’re especially likely to move indoors during the fall and winter months as they move in seeking warmth. Of the 62 species of mammals that call Alabama home, an eye-popping 22 are rodents. Certainly, they’ve earned their title as the largest subgroup of mammals. Of those diverse species, here’s a quick rundown of the most common you’re likely to encounter in your day-to-day at home or on the job.
- House Mouse – House mice, as their name implies, are the featherweight champions of home invasion. They’re a common sight across the United States, and Alabama is no exception. Deer & field mice might also make an appearance around your property, though the house mouse is, undoubtedly, the one to watch out for.
- Roof Rats – Also known as black rats, roof rats are an invasive species from Europe. They’ve spent hundreds of years building a foothold in America, including the Southeast.Roof rats are notoriously good climbers, hence their name, and live in attics, floor voids,walls, and dense foliage, just to name a few of their favorite hiding spots.
- Norway Rats – Norway rats are yet another European invasive species that found a new home in America through shipping. Norway rats are less likely to forage in the wild than some other species, primarily making a meal of human food sources.
- Gray Squirrel – From college campuses in Auburn and Tuscaloosa to great live oaks on the Gulf Coast to the Appalachian foothills of the Coosa Valley, gray squirrels are as common as a friendly “How y’all doin’?” in Alabama. If they decide to make themselves at home in your residential or commercial property, then it will likely be toward the end of winter when they typically give birth.
- Eastern Chipmunk – Where you find gray squirrels, Eastern chipmunks likely aren’t far behind. Though they’re far smaller than gray squirrels, they’re almost as common in the Eastern part of the U.S.
- Southern Flying Squirrel – Occasionally, the Southern flying squirrel will make its way to disturb urban homeowners, but it’s more typically found in rural areas. Their pesky behavior is more common in early winter due to breeding patterns.
While the sight of any of the above pests is proof positive of an infestation, the initial warning signs might be more subtle. If you suspect you may have an issue with larger pests like these, keep an eye out for calling cards in the form of droppings. You’ll see the small, oblong pellets in drawers or cabinets, along baseboards, and areas near pantries or other food storage. Further, keep an eye out for tracks, gnaw marks—especially on food containers—nests made out of everyday household items, and, of course, the unmistakable sound of scratching or running within walls or under floors. If you spot or hear any of the above signs, it’s time to act; mice can enter your home through gaps as small as a nickel and rats through an opening as small as a quarter, so more are sure to follow and take up residence.
Secondly, it’s vital that you adequately understand the dangers pests like rodents bring along with them. Structurally, a rodent infestation can be a nightmare for both a home and a business setting. Rodents’ front incisors peculiarly never stop growing, so to keep them worn down to a usable length, the animals constantly chew on anything and everything. Wires, wood, drywall, pipes, flooring—nothing is safe from those tiny gnashing teeth. The only upside is that those gnaw marks make it at least a little easier to identify an infestation.
Moreover, rodents are infamous for transmitting diseases and the parasites that hitch a ride on them. Rats, for example, can spread pathogens like hantavirus, salmonella, Leptospira, and others through their waste and saliva. Residential and commercial kitchens are especially vulnerable where the spread of those germs is concerned. Rats and mice can also bring you into contact with fleas and ticks, which may decide you, your family, and your pets are enticing hosts. Needless to say, those parasites bring the risk of a whole host of different infectious diseases to bear if they make the jump to you or those you care about.
Without a doubt, rodents and similar pests have no place indoors, but what can you do? The easiest and best solution is professional pest control from a trusted name like APS to tackle mice, rats, and other rodents. Our seasoned pros can offer a free estimate with a solution tailored to your property and the specific invader that’s made themselves at home. Our proven treatment methods utilizing a combination of traps and bait boxes can quickly and thoroughly eliminate infestations at the source. For especially large pests like squirrels, raccoons, and more, our innovative Creature Catcher system can safely and humanely trap and release the unwelcome guest far from your home or business. Afterward, our pest control team is committed to following up with you to ensure a thorough elimination of your pest problems; opt for up to three months of follow-up care for total peace of mind.
Finally, for home and business owners who want to avoid a rodent problem altogether from the start, follow the quick tips below to keep these pests out before they become an issue.
- Seal up any potential rodent entry points on the exterior of your structure. Remember, don’t ignore even the smallest of gaps. Utilize door sweeps, chimney caps, and durable mesh to seal openings like crawlspace ventilation.
- Repair roof line damage as soon as possible. While many rodents find entrances inside from ground level, they’re notoriously proficient climbers and will take advantage of the smallest gaps to make a nest in your attic.
- Cut foliage away from your home as needed. When these pests are outdoors, they frequently nest in dense trees or shrubs. Don’t make it easier for them to find a way in by keeping their habitat close to your home.
- Secure trash with locking lids. Human food sources are one of the top reasons pests come in at all, and trash left outdoors will only attract invaders who may come sniffing inside for more sustenance.
- Store food carefully off the floor in airtight, scratch-resistant containers. If rodents can’t access the food you store inside, they’re far less likely to stick around. Don’t let cardboard or flimsy plastic food packaging turn your pantry into an all-you-can-eat buffet.