Of Mice and Men: Rodent Infestations Plague Nearly A Third of Americans

America's Rodent Problem 2013

National Pest Management Association reminds homeowners to prepare homes this winter

FAIRFAX, Va. (January 6, 2014) – According to a new survey by the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), rodents, the most common winter pest, have at one time or another been a problem for nearly one-third (29 percent) of Americans. The survey also found nearly half of the infestations occurred in the fall and winter months, and most often in the kitchen.

"Rats and mice are commensal rodents and have been sharing our food and shelter for centuries, spreading disease, destroying food and property," noted Missy Henriksen, vice president of public affairs for the NPMA. "To prevent these unwanted pests from using our homes as shelter to ride out the chilly winter months, we advise homeowners to rodent-proof their homes now."

Rodents spread Salmonella and other bacteria through their droppings, can trigger allergies and asthma attacks as a result of a protein in their urine, and bring with them other diseases such as murine typhus, infectious jaundice, Weil's Disease and rat-bite fever. In addition to the health and sanitation concerns, rodent infestations can also damage property as they chew through wood and drywall, and can even gnaw through electrical wires, causing fires.

Below are the highlights of NPMA's rodent survey:

  • 29 percent of all respondents have had a mouse or a rat problem in their home
    • 35 percent of those in the Northeast said they have had a problem
    • 30 percent of those in the South have had a problem
    • 22 percent of those in the Midwest have had a problem
    • 28 percent of the in the West have had a problem
  • Of those who have had a problem, 45 percent said it occurred in the fall and winter months;
  • Of those who have had a problem
    • 50 percent said it occurred in the kitchen
    • 27 percent said in the basement
    • 25 percent said in the living room
    • 24 percent said in the attic and garage
    • 22 percent said bedroom(s)
    • 11 percent said bathroom(s)

The NPMA recommends the following top five rodent-proofing tips:

  1. Inspect the outside of your home for easy access points. Seal any cracks and crevices with silicone caulk, paying special attention to areas where utility pipes enter the structure. Remember, mice can enter homes through holes the size of a dime and rats through holes the size of a quarter.
  2. Fill larger gaps inside your home with pieces of steel wool, as pests are deterred by the roughness of the steel fibers, especially rodents who are unable to gnaw through the material.
  3. Screen attic vents and openings to chimneys, which could serve as potential entryways.
  4. Replace weather-stripping and repair loose mortar around the basement's foundation and windows.
  5. Properly landscape around the home to avoid providing pest harborage sites. Keep shrubbery trimmed and ensure mulch is kept at least 15 inches from the foundation.

The survey was conducted online with the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of the NPMA, from November 22-26, 2013, among 2,033 adults ages 18 and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

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 PestWorld.org.