Rodents Invade Homes Across U.S. As Winter Chill Lingers

FAIRFAX, Va. (January 24, 2012) – With frigid temperatures blanketing the country, homeowners aren't the only ones seeking shelter indoors this winter. The National Pest Management Association (NPMA) warns that rodents are also looking for access to warm homes this season. In fact, the NPMA reports that rodents enter an estimated 21 million homes in the U.S. each winter.

While rodents are unwelcome houseguests for any homeowner, the real concern is that these pests can cause property damage and spread disease. Rodents such as mice serve as vectors of many common diseases, including salmonella and Hantavirus, which they spread by contaminating food and food preparation surfaces. Rodents also chew through wires, in some cases sparking house fires.

"Many homeowners notice signs of a rodent in their home and assume it's no big deal or that it may be just the one," says Missy Henriksen, vice president of public affairs for the NPMA. "However, a female mouse can have as many as 12 babies every three weeks. A small infestation can quickly grow into a huge problem. We recommend taking steps to prevent rodents from ever gaining access to your home in the first place."

The NPMA recommends these tips to keep homes rodent-free this winter:

  • Seal cracks and holes on the outside of your home to help prevent rodents from finding easy entryways. Pay special attention to areas where utilities and pipes enter the home. Replace loose mortar and weather stripping around the basement foundation and windows.
  • Don't build rodent attractions near your home. Store firewood at least 20 feet from the home and five inches off the ground. Keep shrubberies cut back from the house.
  • Rodents can hide in clutter, so keep areas clear and store boxes off of the floor. Keep food in rodent-proof containers.
  • If you find rodent feces, hear sounds of scurrying in the walls or observe other signs of an infestation, contact a licensed pest professional to inspect and treat the pest problem.

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.