While Arizona winters are known for being warm and dry, nighttime temperatures still drop into the low 50s. And though some pests have departed since the hot summers, many still remain; most notably, rodents. Because they are mammals, rodents are coming out in droves thanks to the pleasant days and chilly nights.
As a national issue, rodents infest an average of 21 million homes in the U.S. each winter – and Arizona is no exception. Nearly a third of homeowners in the western region of the country have reported rodent problems. Despite being known for filth and disease, the real problem with rodents is the sheer number of them. Approximately 40 percent of all mammals are considered rodents, and they’re experts at adapting to diverse climates and lifestyles. It’s estimated that the population of rats parallels that of the human population, and that’s just rats – there are over 2,000 species of rodents across the world.
Types of Rats in Arizona
While Arizonans don’t have to worry about all 2,277 species, we aren’t invulnerable to their reach. Rodents are characterized by a single pair of continuously growing incisors, and live on nearly every continent; the exception being Antarctica. While not suited for frequent subzero tundra ecosystems, rodents have adapted quite well to Arizona’s desert geography.
- Wood rats are distinguished by their furry tails and white bellies. Like birds, wood rats create nests using twigs, branches, and anything else they can find. Because they’re nesters, they typically sneak into sheds, garages, cars, or other human structures in search of items to fill their nests with. Referred to as “pack rats” for their hoarding tendencies, wood rats like to collect trophies for their nests.
- Roof rats are known for their long, dark-colored bodies and expert climbing skills. They tend to prefer the upper areas of a home where they can hide in corners. Like wood rats, this species has hoarder tendencies; but instead of trophies, roof rats store food like Gus in Disney’s Cinderella.
- House mice are accurately named. They rely on the comforts of your home. Smaller than rats, these mice only have about a three-inch-long body. They build their nests out of shredded paper and other soft materials in sheltered areas of homes like the basement, under the porch, or in a woodpile. These mice want anything they can get their teeth on, and while they prefer cereals and grains, they’ll eat whatever they find. Also good climbers, house mice can easily jump onto your countertops and tables to access crumbs and other food items.
While Arizona is home to many types of rodents, including squirrels, gophers, and chipmunks, those species are not as likely to cause you pest problems. Regardless of which type of rodent is causing you trouble, one thing remains the same: they pose a serious risk to you and your family.
Rodents: A (Literal) Plague
Known for transmitting the Bubonic “Black Death” Plague, rats are a health hazard. Rodents are ideal carriers for bacterial growths, parasites, and diseases. Spreading over 35 diseases worldwide, rodents can affect humans directly or indirectly through shared parasites. Direct transmission can occur when handling rodents and their excrement, food contamination – up to 10 times the amount they actually consume – or bites. Mice also urinate constantly, and a single house mouse can deposit several hundred urine droplets in a single day. According to recent studies, mouse urine has been linked to small children developing asthma. Because rodents can get around your home or business quickly, if you have an infestation, the dangers aren’t restricted to only one room.
Health concerns aren’t the only ones you should have if you’re dealing with a rodent infestation. Because of their continuously growing teeth, rodents need to gnaw – much like teething babies. By gnawing on things like electrical wires, drywall, upholstery, or practically anything else, they can manage the length of their teeth.
Gnawing to rodents is like scratching for cats; the problem is that instead of having a dedicated scratching post or chew toy, rodents tend to gnaw on exactly what you wouldn’t want them to. This damage is more than just cosmetic. Between decompressed wall insulation to exposed wires, this damage can cause a very real threat of fire. Further structural damage is common, whether for an entire building or an important piece of furniture. And while a single mouse can cause hazards, the biggest threats are their evasive and reproductive characteristics.
Reproducing adult house mice average six to eight babies per month, but have been known to have up to 14. The females of that litter are ready for reproduction after six weeks, around the time the original mouse could be having a second litter. Assuming that half of each litter is female and can produce a litter of their own upon maturity, after only three months, the population could rise to well over 200. Rapid reproduction patterns and their ability to hide within walls and furniture make controlling rodents extremely difficult once they’ve made your home their own.
The Best Offense is a Good Defense
The best way to handle rodents is to prevent them altogether – and because they’re sneaky, it’s important to be diligent in your preventative measures. Once they’re inside, discovering the problem could come too late as they often come into the open while you’re sleeping at night and are hide-and-seek champions during the day. Luckily, there are a few things you can do before they become a problem, and even if they are inside, our Western Exterminator Pest Technicians are the expert seekers you need to end the game for good.
The most important aspects to consider when rodent-proofing your home are cutting off access points and reducing the appeal.
- Seal all points of entry including door sweeps, window screens, and chimney covers. Rats can fit through holes the size of a quarter while mice can fit through that of a nickel, so even small holes should be addressed.
- Make sure to maintain a clean and tidy home – in the eyes of these pests, loose crumbs and open trash containers look like an open invitation to an all-you-can-eat buffet.
- Keep firewood at least 20 feet away from the house, as it acts like a cozy nesting place for unsightly rodents.
- Likewise, trim bushes and trees so they don’t touch the siding of your home.
The Great Mouse Detectives at Western Exterminator
The trouble with a developed rodent infestation is that poisons and traps only go so far, and only work one rat at a time. Even if they do get rid of the whole family, rodents leave behind pheromones that attract others. An experienced professional is needed to fully rid your home of rodent problems.
At Western Exterminator, we have the solutions to handle rodent problems from start to finish. We can inspect your home before the problem for ongoing preventative measures as part of our rodent control or PestFree365+ programs. And if you’ve already seen signs of an infestation, our extermination services take out the existing population and prevent future problems from arising.
Ask your technician about TAP (Thermal Acoustical Pest Control) insulation, which helps regulate your home’s temperature. It’s treated to prevent insects and termites and act as a protective barrier in the insulated areas of your home. This eco-friendly product saves you money by keeping energy costs down and protecting your home from costly pest infestations. In addition, its noise-canceling properties act as a buffer between the loud street noises outside and your peaceful, pest-free home inside.
Contact us today to learn more about how Western Exterminator can help you keep your home or business rodent-free!