Much like humans, rats and mice enjoy a warm place to spend the cold winter months. Because the outside habitats of these critters become cold and uncomfortable during the winter time, they will often seek shelter indoors and in some cases, inside of your home. Keep reading to learn about some of the ways in which rats and mice can enter your home during the winter and what you can do to prevent a rodent infestation.
Entry Points Mice and Rats Use To Get Inside of Your Home
When mice, rats and other rodents enter your home, they generally do not do so by sauntering into the front door. These furry pests will usually take advantage of vulnerable spots in your home’s structure to gain indoor access. Read below to learn about a few different ways that rats, mice and other types of rodents can make their way inside of your home.
The corner posts on your home are used to cover corners on your house’s exterior where siding intersects, while j channels are placed around doors and windows on the exterior of your home to conceal the ends of vinyl siding. Because corner posts are usually hollow, mice and rats can easily climb up the side of your house through these hollow posts. Likewise, gaps between j channels and the siding on your home are usually spacious enough that mice and other small rodents can make their way behind the siding and eventually into your home or walls. To prevent rodents from entering your home through corner posts you can use steel wool pads or copper mesh to secure any gaps. To seal openings in j channels, use silicone caulk.
2. Your Home’s Foundation
Because your home’s foundation is close to the ground where mice and rats scurry about, this area of your house is especially vulnerable to rodent infiltration. Cracks in a home’s foundation are a common entry point for mice, rats and other rodents to make their way indoors. You can fill any cracks in your home’s foundation with silicone caulk to deter rodents from entering your home through this entry point.
3. Your Home’s Attached Garage
There are a couple of different reasons why attached garages are a common entry point into your home for rats and mice. If your garage door is uneven and does not shut completely, this leaves a gap that easily welcomes rodents of all kinds to enter the garage. If you leave your attached garage doors open for long periods of time, you are also more susceptible to rodent infestations in your home. Lastly, because mice and rats like clutter, if you keep your garage messy, you are more likely to find these rodents living amongst the debris.
To reduce the chance of rats or mice taking up shop in your attached garage, organize and get rid of any clutter in the space. It can also be helpful to make sure there are no openings or holes in the sheetrock on the garage wall that is shared with your indoor space. If you do find holes, seal them with silicone caulk. You should also be weary of leaving your garage door open for long periods of time and apply weather stripping on your garage door to ensure it securely closes.
4. Cellar Doors
Although not common, some homes in the Houston area do have cellars or basements. These cellars generally have slanted doors, called bilco doors, which protect the opening to the cellar from outdoor elements. If your home has a cellar with bilco doors, it is not unlikely that rats or mice will find their way into your basement by slipping through any gaps between the two cellar doors. Use heavy duty weather stripping on any cracks between the doors and check that they fit together tightly.
5. The Gutters and Downspouts On Your Home
Mice, rats and other rodents will have no trouble climbing up your home’s downspouts and along your gutters to gain access to holes or openings near the roof of your house. To reduce the chances that rodents will enter your home in this way, install chicken wire or hardware cloth around the bottom opening of the downspout. It is worth mentioning that you will have to remove the chicken wire or hardware cloth regularly to clean out any trapped debris. This will ensure that your downspout continues to function optimally.
6. Your Home’s Chimney
Like the gutters and downspouts on your house, rodents can easily climb down your chimney to gain entry into your home’s interior. To keep mice, rats and other small rodents from entering your home through the chimney, install twelve inch wide sheet metal at the chimney’s base. This metal will make it too slippery for rodents to begin their climb inside of your chimney.
7. Openings Installed For Utility Lines
In order to run utility lines out of your home, utility companies will make openings on the side of your house. These holes are usually large enough for rodents to fit through, giving them an easy point of access into your home. If you have such holes on the sides of your home, seal them them with silicone caulk to prevent rodents from infiltrating your house in this way.
Signs That Your Home Is Facing A Rodent Infestation
There are many signs to look for beyond the physical sight of a rodent in your home that can indicate an infestation. Read below to learn about what you should look for if you suspect that rodents have chosen your home as their winter safe haven.
1. Rodent Droppings Inside of Your Home
Second to seeing a live rodent in your home, rodent droppings are the best indicator that your home has been infiltrated by these fuzzy critters. Rodent droppings are black in color and can resemble small raisins. Mouse and rat droppings differ in size with mouse droppings appearing smaller than their rat relatives. If the droppings you see in your home look shiny and smell of urine, this indicates that the droppings are fresh and that your rodent infestation is in full swing.
2. Gnaw Marks Along The Walls In Your Home
The gnaw or tooth marks of rats and mice will be approximately one-eighth of an inch long and will usually run along the walls in your home. These teeth marks will most likely indicate that the rodent’s nest or home is close by. In addition to gnaw marks, scratch marks can also be a sign that rats have infested your home. These indicators are generally found along walls because rats and mice will usually use walls or ledges to travel throughout your home.
3. Finding Rats Nests In Areas Of Your Home Such As The Attic or Foundation
Some rats, namely Norway rats, prefer to build their nests deep within the ground. This can sometimes include below the foundation of your home. As their name suggests, roof rats are more likely to build their nests above ground in places like your attic, trees, dense foliage and not surprisingly, your roof. Contrastingly, mice will usually build their nests inside of your home using scraps they find such as paper or string.
4. Smudge Marks On The Baseboards or Walls In Your Home
Because rats, mice and other rodents usually have poor vision, they will often travel with their bodies running along your walls to guide their way. This can lead to smudge marks or dirt marks that will indicate where a rodent has been in your home. However, these marks do not always mean that you are currently undergoing a rodent infestation. It is a good idea to look for additional indicators before deciding that these critters are currently dwelling in your home.
5. Unusual Behavior From Your Pets
Your cat or dog will most likely be more in tune with the presence of mice or rats in your home and might begin to exhibit odd behavior as they attempt to track and locate these rodents. Cats might begin to scratch or paw at small crevices in your home, such as under your refrigerator, under your oven or behind and under furniture. If you notice that your pets start to behave in ways such as these, you might want to look for other signs of rodents in your home so that an infestation can be diagnosed.
6. Seeing or Hearing Live Rodents In Your Home
The most obvious sign that a rodent has taken up shop in your home is the sight or sounds of live mice and rats. If you see one rodent, it is likely that there are more nearby. Because rodents are nocturnal, you will usually hear or see them during then night time. If you wake up in the morning to scraps of food or crumbs on your kitchen floor, this is a sign that there are rodents present and that they are living and dining in your home.
How To Keep Rats, Mice and Other Rodents Out Of Your Home This Winter
If you have found signs of a rodent infestation in your home, the first step you should take is to contact an ethical and green pest control company like Natran Green Pest Control to address your infestation. If you have not spotted any rodent activity within your home, there are steps that you and your family can take to make sure these furry critters spend the winter months outdoors and outside of your home.
To stuff any holes in your home which can become possible entry points for rodents, use steel wool. Mice and other rodents cannot chew through steel wool, thus making this a much more effective option than using other materials that are easily chewed or penetrated.
2. Spray Peppermint Oil Around Your Home
Spraying peppermint oil around your home is one way to deter mice and rats from seeking shelter in your house during the winter months. Plus, you can enjoy the added benefit of the festive peppermint scent as the holidays near! However, peppermint oil is known to cause respiratory issues in cats and dogs, so if you have pets, you will want to find a different rodent deterrent.
3. Fill Larger Holes In Your Home With Bricks
For some potential entry holes, steel wool will not cut it. If you have a hole in or around your home that you think might be an entry point for rodents but that is too big to stuff with steel wool, use a brick to fill the hole instead. Mice, rats and other rodents are fortunately not able to chew through bricks.
4. Store Your Food In Glass Containers
Mice are masters at chewing through soft plastic packaging. To ensure that these critters do not make a meal out of the food in your pantry, store food items in glass containers with a secure lid.
5. Caulk Any Small Holes In and Around Your Home
Mice are able to squeeze through the tiniest of holes, so make sure that you inspect your walls and other areas of your home for small holes. Fill each hole you find with caulk to ensure that you are not sharing a home with these rodents this winter.
6. Place Moth Balls Near Possible Entry Points
Mice and other rodents detest the smell of mothballs. To deter these little creatures from entering your home this winter, place a few moth balls near any areas of your home where you think mice or rats might enter.
7. Thin Out Your Home’s Landscaping
Mice and rats are known to hide in dense vegetation. If you have any hedges or bushes near your house that are thick and dense, lighten up this landscaping to reduce the number of hiding spots for mice and other rodents.
We hope that by using these tips, your home will stay rodent free this winter! However, if you do find that your home falls victim to a rodent infestation, call Natran Green Pest Control.