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How to Prevent Rodents from Entering your Home this Winter

Winter is coming, and so are rodents, rats, and mice. House mice, roof rats, Norway rats, and other types of rodents are looking for a place to winter, and your home in the Chicago area is the perfect spot.

These critters aren’t just good for a jump scare. There are many rodent problems to watch out for. They carry diseases such as salmonella, leptospirosis, hantavirus, and are thought to be the original carriers of the plagues, bubonic, black, etc. They contaminate food, make noise, and cause damage to the home by gnawing and scratching on walls and pulling out insulation.

Know the signs of a rodent infestation in your home in the Chicago area this winter, and learn the steps to take now to eliminate rodent infestations.

Signs of Rodent Control Problems

Look for these signs in your home or business. If you discover at least two of these signs, it’s time to take action now.

  • Noises

    Mice make squeaking and scratching noises, especially at night. Rats, also nocturnal, will gnaw and chew the walls as well and are more aggressive with each other. You may hear them fighting over food at night.

  • Sightings

    If you see a mouse or rat, this is definitely a problem. You’re unlikely to see them, however, because rodents are nocturnal and come out usually at night.

  • Droppings

    Rat droppings look like dark, pellets that are rounded at the ends. Mice droppings are pointed at the ends and are about the size of a grain of rice.

  • Debris

    Rodents will gather material for nests. They may pull out insulation from the walls, gather wood shavings, or rip up papers for a nest.

  • Footprints

    Tiny paw prints might be found outside, in the dust in a cabinet or on the floor, or leading from a food source, like a bag of flour or sugar they have chewed through.

  • Pets are alert

    Dogs and cats have acute senses and may demonstrate alert or agitated behavior if they smell or hear a rodent in the house.

Eliminate Attractants for Control and Prevention

Rodents have extremely acute senses of smell. Even while you prepare food, they are certain to smell it, even when they hide inside the walls of your home. Follow these directions to make your home rodent-proof and prevent rodents from seeking a meal inside your home in the Chicago area this winter.

  • Seal Dry Goods Store all food in airtight containers. This will keep the smell inside the container. Place the container on a high shelf to discourage access.
  • Seal Pet Food No food is more attractive to rodents than the highly nutritious and convenient dog food, cat food, or birdseed we keep in our garage or shed. Store these in an airtight container high above the ground also.
  • Clean your Home A dirty home doesn’t necessarily attract rodents--food is a much better motivator than filth anyway--but clutter does allow them to hide. Vacuum, disinfect, and clear away the clutter from every area and every room of your home.
  • Clean the Yard Fallen apples, peaches, berries, nuts, or seeds are a ready food source for any rodent. Piles of fallen leaves provide ample shelter for a family of mice. Clear these away, especially during autumn and early winter, to avoid attracting them to your yard.
  • For Compost: Any compost pile, especially food compost, must be at least 20 feet from the house and at least 1 foot off the ground. Consider circling compost piles with chicken wire or metal screens for added protection. Keep the pile tidy and keep any fallen compost scraps off the ground for easy access.
  • For Firewood: Firewood piles are great places for a rat to make a nest and raise a litter, or for a mouse to teach her pups to scavenge. Keep your woodpile at least 20 feet from the house and at least one food off the ground. Consider installing chicken wire or metal screens around the firewood pile as well.
  • Seeds Birdseed or planting seeds are excellent food sources. If you keep these in your garage or shed, seal them in airtight containers high off the ground. Keep your garage or shed tidy, as well.
  • Garbage Empty all interior garbage receptacles frequently, and ensure your outside garbage is tightly sealed. Keep your garbage can at least 20 feet from the house and ensure it is always upright.

Seal Rodent Entry Points

Because of their unique skeletal structure, rats can fit into a gap the size of a quarter. Mice can fit into a hole the diameter of a nickel or even a dime.

  • Use steel wool or silicone caulking to seal every crack and crevice.
  • If the siding of your home is less than one foot off the ground, seal all gaps that might be easy entry points.
  • Gaps around electrical, water, or gas pipes should be sealed as well.
  • Close the gaps around doors and ground-level windows.
  • Inspect for and seal cracks around the home foundation or sill plates.
  • For larger gaps, such as those around brick chimneys or fireplaces, place a metal screen around potential entry points. 10-gauge metal screens at ¼ inch or smaller should be more than sufficient. Supplement this with caulking or steel wool if necessary.
  • Trim shrubbery around the house.
  • Long grass or overgrown bushes give rodents plenty of time to search for or create entry holes into the home.
  • Shrubs should be trimmed at least one foot from the side of the house./
  • Trim tree branches at least 5 feet from your roof. This will deter rats and other pests, such as raccoons, from access to your roof.

Professional Rodent Control

If you suspect you have rodents, rats, and mice in your home, live traps, glue traps, rodent bait, bait stations, and good old peanut butter traps are available for over-the-counter purchase to get rid of rats or mice. However, we discourage the use of live traps and poison bait, since these can be dangerous for children or pets if not properly used. A homeowner who approaches a trapped rat or mouse without the proper expertise could contract a disease the rodent might carry.

Luckily, you’re not alone. Our Fox Pest Control Technicians are Pest Professionals with the expertise and experience you need for rodent control. If you suspect rodents are in your house, don’t wait. Follow the steps outlined above and call today for a free estimate. Your Pest Pro from Fox Pest Control will work with you to create a rat control or mice control plan that fits your needs and restores your peace of mind. Pest Control? Think Fox Pest Control.

Posted on December 2, 2019.

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