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As the weather gets cold and damp, one of the most common pest problems home and property owners have to deal with is rodents. Mice and rats don’t want to be out in the cold and rain any more than humans do.
Rodents will use their teeth to chew their way through the walls of a home or flatten their bodies to get into any tiny crack or crevice to get inside. Once inside, they start to breed which will result in a full infestation very fast. Outside of mice and rats, there are also moles and voles and the damage they leave behind.
What are the most common rodents that our Western Exterminator specialists deal with in the home? We explore the most common rodents so you can spot them and know what you’re dealing with, too.
Western Exterminator rodent control specialists are experts in finding where and how rodents are getting inside and where they are hiding. Feel free to contact Western Exterminator to take care of rodents around your property.
The rodent you are likely most familiar with is the "house mouse.” House mice are one of the most common species of rodent found in the home. In fact, this is the number one rodent pest in the world, found on nearly every single continent except Antarctica.
House mice have a pointed nose, large ears, and short hair. Their feet are broad and hairless and a tail that looks very scaly.
House mice stick close to the walls because they’re extremely nearsighted, which is why you can often find dirty smudges low on the walls as a sign you have a mouse problem.
House mice are also very athletic and are known to be great climbers. They will climb up walls, pipes, wires and can jump up to a foot in height and safely land after jumping from as high as 8 feet up.
A house mouse is most likely to be found in dark, secluded spaces where they can hide. They will build nests there using paper and insulation and other soft things they can find around your home. Sometimes multiple mouse families can share nesting areas.
House mice often leave a lot of droppings around, which is another sign you have an infestation. You’ll find them behind places like stoves and refrigerators. Their droppings are between 3-6mm in length and shaped like rods with pointed ends.
When you think about big rats, it’s most likely the Norway rat you’re thinking of. Although they are not from Norway, they get their name from where they were first identified and classified by people who do that sort of thing for a living. Norway rats are big rats, brown or gray in color, with bi-colored tails, tiny ears, and small eyes.
Norway rats have very large teeth which keep growing all the time. In order to prevent this becoming a problem for the rodents, they have to chew on things. Hard things that help them keep those chompers at bay. For property owners, this is bad news because this can include the sides of houses. They can chew through thin metal, soft concrete and stone.
Norway rats can compress their bodies, like other rodents, to sneak into the tiniest of spaces. Norway rats like to dig burrows to find places to stay home, give birth to their young, raise their young and store food.
What do Norway rats eat? They love food and will eat just about anything they can get their paws and teeth on. This includes meats, fish, and dry stuff like dog food. Storing your food away won't help if you have a Norway rat infestation either, because they can chew right through whatever it’s being stored in and devour it anyway.
Norway rats like to hide, but they are big and hard to miss when they are out and about foraging for food. One of the first signs you’ll have if you have a problem with them is seeing them running around. They move fast but you'll likely see them.
Norway rats will leave a lot of droppings around, too. In fact, they leave large droppings. Approximately 20mm long and shaped like capsules, they will be all over kitchens, inside cabinets, under sinks, behind appliances, in wall crevices and spaces and anywhere the rats themselves might be hiding.
If you hear tiny scampering feet above your head in your home, it might be squirrels – but it might also be roof rats. As you can tell by their name, roof rats are climbers. They prefer to be up high and will climb trees, trellises, wires or pipes. The pests will use their paws and teeth to pry their way into attics and spaces between the walls to get warm, raise their young, nest and find food. However, climbing great heights is not their only method of getting inside as they are opportunistic and will make do with basements and sewers, too.
Roof rats are brown or black, but their stomachs are usually lighter – almost white. Like a lot of rodents, roof rats are not very picky about what they eat. They will eat just about anything in the trash, on counters, or left unsealed. However, they are particularly fond of fruits, vegetables, and cereals. Roof rats are gluttons. They will eat a lot of food at once, then sleep it off or store the food as fat for a while. They will return to the same spot where they found food the last time, again and again.
Looking for the telltale droppings? Well, to determine if you have a roof rat problem, look for them in the usual hiding places, such as behind appliances, but also include searches in attics and behind any walls you can access. The droppings are usually about 12.5mm long and tapered at the ends, resembling a spindle.
You have probably heard the phrase “making a mountain out of a molehill.” If you live in certain parts of the country, it is quite possible you have gazed out upon your lawn or garden and seen the hills of dirt piled up there and realized you just might have figured out the origin of that particular phrase.
Moles vary in size and color and have adapted respiratory systems which allow them to breathe underground.
Moles dig burrows and tunnels underground and when they get near the surface, they create hills of dirt – hence the molehill.
Moles burrow underground and generally have terrible eyesight, but a terrific sense of smell. They chew on the roots of plants, often leaving the upper portion still sticking out of the soil. Sometimes you know you have moles when you touch a tree or bush and it just comes up and out of the soil in your hand.
Moles are rarely a problem indoors. However, if you have a large front or backyard and a garden, you may know too well the damage moles can do. If you have a farm, some of your crops and vegetation may attract moles which can have a real damaging impact.
The signs of a mole infestation include:
Voles (also commonly referred to as meadow mice and field mice) are generally interchangeable terms. Voles are also underground, burrowing animals that feed on the roots of plants, much like moles. In fact, voles and moles are often confused for one another, although they have very different looks and physiology.
Voles are active all year round. If you have a house with a large backyard or near a field, you might end up with voles. The small rodents prefer moist, dense, grassland in which to build their burrows. They build them to nest, store food, stay warm and to birth and nurture their young.
Voles have a short, stout body and a hairy tail. They look a lot like mice as they are close relatives, and that is why “field mouse” was a name bestowed upon the vole. Voles have a more rounded head and smaller ears than a standard mouse. They are generally pretty small, between 7.6 – 22.9 cm.
Voles, however, can have up to 10 litters a year, making them very prodigious breeders which can quickly create an infestation. In their search for food, they can end up in homes and businesses, but they mostly spend their time in the outdoors, below ground.
Rodents were one of the first pests the pest control specialists at Western Exterminator started helping customers with back in 1921. In fact, our logo features a rat, as you may know. From the very beginning of our existence, we have been on the cutting edge of methods for removing rodent infestations and preventing return infestations.
If any of the above rodents infest your property, trying to take care of it yourself can be problematic. Using the wrong methods on the wrong rodent can lead to further infestation. Contact Western Exterminator and get rid of rodents today.
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