Your family is not the only group spending more time indoors as the temperature drops. Fall is also prime time for rodents to make moves into your home as they seek food and shelter. It only takes a hole the size of a quarter for a rat to squeeze inside, and a hole the size of a dime for mice. Rodents are also known to chew around holes to make them larger, after which they can slip into homes.
"Commensal rodents depend on humans and their resources to survive, so unless residents and city officials take proactive steps to prevent rodents, infestations can easily get out of hand,” says entomologist and Orkin Technical Services Director Ron Harrison, Ph.D.
According to a 2013 Orkin survey, one-third of Americans saw a rodent in their home in the last year. Rodents eat between 15 and 20 times a day, so nearly 40 percent of homeowners saw rodents for the first time in kitchens. While rodents are commonly found eating human or pet food, they are also found chewing and gnawing other materials, causing damage to furniture, clothing, wiring, insulation and piping.
Orkin recommends the following tips to help prevent rodents around the home:
Regularly inspect the home – inside and outside – for rodent droppings, rub marks or burrows.
Seal all cracks and gaps around utility penetrations larger than 1/4 of an inch, as well as install weather stripping at the bottom of exterior doors.
Trim overgrown branches, plants and bushes near the home, and consider keeping a 2-foot barrier between any landscaping and the home.
Store all food (including pet food) and garbage properly in sealed containers both indoors and outdoors.
Remove all pet bowls after animals are finished eating, and remove pet waste from the lawn promptly.
Contact a pest professional for assistance managing rodents, as these pests can be dangerous and difficult to control.