Cold Weather Gives Rise to Rodent Infestations

The National Pest Management Association encourages homeowners to rodent-proof their homes

FAIRFAX, Va. (November 14, 2014) – With winter storms already hitting parts of the U.S. and an Arctic cold front threatening many states, most people will be heading indoors.  As rodents tend to have the same idea and invade approximately 21 million U.S. homes each winter, the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) advises homeowners to rodent-proof their homes now to stave off an invasion in the coming months. To help the public understand the health and property risks associated with rodents, the NPMA has designated November 16 - 22 as Rodent Awareness Week.

"The speed with which rodents reproduce, coupled with the fact that they can squeeze through spaces as small as a dime should be of major concern for every homeowner during the colder months," said Missy Henriksen, vice president of public affairs for the NPMA. "Not only are rodents notorious carriers of disease and bacteria, they can gnaw through wiring, putting homes at risk for electrical fires."

A 2013 NPMA survey of consumers found that nearly one-third experienced a rodent infestation, with more than half reporting the infestation occurred in the kitchen. "Considering mice urinate constantly, the thought of them contaminating kitchen and food surfaces alone should spur every homeowner to conduct a thorough inspection in and around their house- especially to help prevent food-borne illnesses including Salmonella," added Henriksen.

NPMA tells homeowners to be on the lookout for droppings, gnaw marks on food items and wooden surfaces such as door corners, and to listen for scratching or scurrying sounds in the walls, attic or other crawlspaces.  They also recommend the following rodent-proofing tips:

  • Secure the outside. Seal cracks and holes on the outside of the home, paying special attention to areas where utilities and pipes enter the home. Replace loose mortar and weather stripping around the basement foundation and windows.
  • Play keep away. Store firewood at least 20 feet from the home and five feet off the ground. Keep shrubbery and tree branches cut back from the house.
  • Don't roll out the red carpet. Keep basements and attics clear and store boxes off of the floor. Eliminate all moisture sites, including leaking pipes and clogged drains. Keep food in rodent-proof containers.
  • Take action. Rodents breed rather quickly. If you suspect an infestation, contact a qualified pest professional to help eliminate a rodent problem before it gets out of hand.

The NPMA, a non-profit organization with more than 7,000 members, was established in 1933 to support the pest management industry's commitment to the protection of public health, food and property. For more information, visit