Across the country, chilly temperatures and early snowstorms are forcing more than just people indoors. Rodents including mice, rats and squirrels are seeking food, water and shelter in homes. Unfortunately, more bad weather could be on the way as the Farmers’ Almanac is forecasting a season of unusually cold and stormy weather. The National Pest Management Association (NPMA) encourages homeowners to take the necessary steps to protect themselves and their families from rodent infestations during colder months.
“Rodents invade an estimated 21 million homes in the United States every winter,” said Missy Henriksen, vice president of public affairs for NPMA. “But with many places already experiencing cold weather conditions, it is important to be proactive and vigilant in preventing these pests from becoming unwelcome houseguests.”
The accumulation of feces from mice and rats can spread bacteria and contaminate food sources. These rodent droppings are known to trigger allergies and cause diseases including Hantavirus and Salmonella. In addition to health risks, rodents can chew through wallboards, cardboard, wood and even electrical wiring, increasing the risk of a house fire.
NPMA offers the following tips to avoid a rodent infestation:
- Store items in boxes and plastic sealed containers, rather than cardboard boxes.
- Keep food in airtight containers and dispose of garbage regularly.
- Install screens over chimney vents and openings.
- Seal cracks and holes on the outside of the home, including areas where utilities and pipes enter the home.
- Replace loose mortar and weather stripping around basement foundation and windows.
- Install gutters or diverts to channel water away from your home.
- Store firewood at least 20 feet from the home and five feet off the ground.
- Inspect wires, insulation and walls for any signs of gnaw marks.
- If you find rodent feces, hear sounds of scurrying in the walls or observe other signs of an infestation, contact a licensed pest professional.