Biting Temperatures Send Rodents Scrambling Indoors

Across the country, bitter cold temperatures and winter force more than just people indoors. Rodents such as mice, rats and squirrels can pose significant risks to people and their properties. The National Pest Management Association (NPMA) offers solutions for homeowners on how to keep rodents from coming indoors during the winter season.

"Rodents invade an estimated 21 million homes in the United States every winter," says Missy Henriksen, vice president of public affairs for NPMA. "Not only can rodents cause serious and costly property damage but the health risks associated with them should be of serious concern to homeowners."

Bats and rodents can also pose real threats to the health of a homeowner and his or her family. The accumulation of their feces can spread bacteria and viruses. Once this accumulated mass becomes dry, it can be hazardous to those who breathe it in.

Mice are capable of dropping up to 25,000 fecal pellets each year, an estimated 70 times each day. Rodent droppings can trigger allergies and spread disease including Hantavirus - causing headaches, fever, nausea, diarrhea and abdominal pain. Rodents can chew through wallboards, cardboard, wood and even electrical wiring, increasing the risk of a house fire. Henriksen points out that rats only need an entry point the size of a quarter to access your home.

NPMA offers these important measures to prevent a rodent infestation during the winter season:

  • Inspect wires, insulation and walls for signs of an infestation.
  • Store boxes and containers off the floor and organize items often to prevent rodents from residing in undisturbed areas.
  • Seal cracks and holes, including areas where utilities and pipes enter the home.
  • Keep tree branches, shrubbery and ground covering well trimmed and away from the house.
  • Store firewood at least 20 feet away from the house and five inches off the ground.
  • If you find rodent feces, hear sounds of scurrying in the walls or observe other signs, contact a licensed pest professional to inspect and treat the pest problem.