What’s That Noise? Six Tell-Tale Signs of a Rodent Infestation

The National Pest Management Association shares tips to keep homes rodent-free during fall and winter

 

FAIRFAX, Va. - Predictions from the National Pest Management Association’s recently released Fall & Winter Bug Barometer® advises residents in many areas of the U.S. to beware of rodents during the cooler months. Wet winter conditions will drive rodents indoors in the North Central, Northwest and Southwest regions of the country while drought conditions in South Central U.S. this summer will likely cause rodent pressure to spike as they search for water and food. Rodent Awareness Week is October 21-27, 2018 and the NPMA is helping homeowners spot the common signs of a rodent infestation to keep mice and rats out as the temperatures drop.

“Although it may seem like pest activity dies down during the fall and winter, homeowners need to be on the lookout for signs of stealthy rodents like mice and rats, and take preventative measures to avoid encounters,” said Cindy Mannes, vice president of public affairs for NPMA. “Mice and rats can spread dangerous diseases, contaminate food, trigger allergy symptoms, and even bring fleas, ticks and lice into homes. Rodents are also known to damage properties by chewing through drywall insulation, electrical wires, and even car wiring. Don’t forget to look under the hood!”

Here are six common signs of rodent trouble:

  1. Droppings: Finding mice or rat droppings around the home is one of the most common signs of a rodent infestation. These pellets are often left behind in places where food is stored, such as kitchen cabinets or pantries, as well as under sinks, inside chewed cardboard boxes, along baseboards and on top of wall beams.
  2. Gnaw marks: Rodents can cause serious property damage by chewing through almost any type of material – including plastic and lead pipes – to obtain food or water. House mice and Norway rats are also known to gnaw on wires behind walls, sometimes causing house fires.
  3. Nests: Rodents prefer to nest in dark, secluded areas where there is little chance of disturbance. House mice, specifically, like to build their nests out of shredded paper products, cotton, packing materials, wall insulation and fabrics. If you see these materials scattered around the home, it might be a sign that rodents are near.
  4. Tracks or rub marks: Rats tend to leave dark grease or dirt marks along walls and floorboards as they follow a trail throughout the home between their nest and food. Keep an eye out for these rub marks, which are actually caused by the rat’s oily fur.
  5. Strange noises: Hearing strange noises in the walls, especially at night, can be a bit concerning. Chances are these sounds can be attributed to a family of rodents scurrying about the house, between the walls and up in attics. Rodents are especially fond of attics because they provide dark, secluded spots to build nests.
  6. An actual rodent: Mice can breed rapidly, so if you spot one mouse in the house, it’s likely there are others playing hide and seek. In fact, a female house mouse can give birth to a half dozen babies every three weeks, up to 35 young per year. That’s a lot of mice!

To prevent a rodent encounter, homeowners should seal any structural cracks or crevices with caulk or steel wool, as house mice can fit through openings as small as a dime. Additionally, keep basements and attics clutter free and eliminate any excess moisture around the house. Store firewood at least 20 feet from the home and keep food in airtight containers, disposing of garbage regularly. If a rodent infestation is suspected, contact a licensed pest control professional to handle the situation.

For more information on how to keep homes rodent free, visit PestWorld.org.

The NPMA, a non-profit organization with more than 5,500 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.