When it starts to get cold outside, a nice cozy house is a great place to come home to. Rodents are just one of the many pests that will find your home cozy during the winter. It is estimated that 21 million American homes are invaded by rodents each winter thanks to the cold weather and difficulty in finding food supplies. In the wild, most rodents prefer a diet of plants and seeds, however when the temperatures dip way down and food and water are not as plentiful, they will come into your home to search for food.
There are seemingly small holes and openings that mice and rats can use to enter homes. All they need is a 1/2-inch opening to get inside, and some tiny mice can even get in through as little as a 1/4-inch gap. In addition to squeezing into tiny places, all rodents are excellent climbers and can get into your home via utility openings and vents just by following the pipes and lines. They may seem harmless, but it can be very dangerous to live with rodents. Rodents are seen as a fire hazard the world over, this is down to their continual gnawing of electrical wiring, they are also bad for your health thanks to the many diseases they carry and spread through excrement and bites.
Carrying more than 200 human pathogens rodents are a petri dish of disease. Some pathogens, including the plague and Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS), post a certain risk of fatality in those who are subjected to them. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has conducted studies over the past fourteen years that have revealed the presence of HPS in thirty states; HPS is a disease that proliferates through the air with the saliva, urine, or fecal matter of deer mice. There have been 465 reported cases in this time period and 35 percent are fatal.
There are also 12 cases of the plague reported in the United States each year, although this is obviously a very rare ailment. Rodents can be associated with the health of humans for many many years. Europe suffered from a massive outbreak of the plague during the 1300's-- all due to the extensive presence of rodents in human living areas ; the diseases that rodents transmit are still a cause for concern, even in modern times. Even though there is a limited number of pathogens rodents carry that are dangerous to human health, the possibility of rodent invasion needs to be taken seriously.
It may surprise you that rodents do not just move into homes that are not sanitary. Although it is true that a dirty home full of clutter with sources of food all over the place is very enticing to rodents, even a clean house can find itself home to opportunistic rodents. If you are worried about potentially having a rodent invasion, here are some signs to look out for. You will find feces dotted around the place, likely around food sources, this feces will range from 1/4 to 1/2 an inch in length, you may also find some food boxes gnawed at in cupboards and see oily marks along the wall where they have been running, a clear sign of rodents is the gnawing of furniture and door frames, you may even hear them scurrying around behind walls and ceilings.
If you are worried that you may have a rodent infestation, you should seek the help of a certified professional. Most often, pest control experts will use a combination of poisons and traps to try and remove the rodents from your home. A trained professional will know the best way to implement these techniques to achieve the best result and will often have a better success rate than someone who opts to do it himself. When the temperature begins to drop, use the following strategies to help thwart rodents from entering your home. Keep any firewood as far from your household as you possibly can, and store it above ground. Don't leave any debris piles in your yard; the same goes for stones or bricks. Such things will shelter rodents and could even hide cracks or holes in the walls of your home that allow access inside.
Check the perimeter of your home for cracks or holes that could be large enough for a rodent to fit through, seal any you find that are 1/4 inch or bigger. If you come across a crack or opening that is bigger than a couple of inches stuff it with steel wool before you seal it up. Make sure that the foundation and attic vents have been sealed with tight fitting 1/4 hardware cloth. Reinforce flimsy insect screens with tight fitting weather strips along the base of your doors. Any shrubbery or tree branches near or hanging over your home should be trimmed and cut back away from the side and roof of your structure.
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