When you think about rodents, typically mice and rats come to mind and while they are in fact rodents, they are not the only critters that fall into this category. Merriam Webster defines rodents as any of an order (Rodentia) of relatively small gnawing mammals (such as mouse, squirrel, or beaver) that have in both jaws a single pair of incisors with a chisel-shaped edge. While there are over 2,000 species in this particular order, for brevity’s sake and for relevance to our readers, we’re going to focus on the two most common types of home-infesting rodents in Maine.
The common house mouse in Maine ranges in size from 5 ½ to 7 inches in length, that’s including its hairless tail. Other distinguishing characteristics of house mice in Maine include:
Large, rounded ears
Tiny, dark eyes
Fur that is typically light gray or brown in color
There are many diseases directly transmitted by both mice and rats including salmonellosis, leptospirosis, dysentery, and lymphocytic choriomeningitis. In Maine, Hantaviruses are another concern however neither the common house mouse or Norway rats carry this group of viruses. Deer mice and white-footed mice, which are native to Maine, are capable of spreading Hantavirus.
Other dangers associated with mice and rats?
In addition to being disease spreaders, mice and rats often introduce ticks, fleas, and other parasites which have the potential to be hazardous to the health of people and pets.
What’s more, both mice and rats are highly destructive pests capable of inflicting significant damage to building materials and belongings; rodents are also linked to house fires due to their incessant chewing.
Four step guide to protecting your home & family from rodents
Step I: Take away their food (both inside your home and out)
Like us, rodents must have food to survive. While we may be more selective in what we consume, mice and rats will eat just about anything they can find.
Inside food sources
Food scraps from the garbage
Cereals and other grains
Chocolate and other sweets
Outdoor food sources
Unsecured trash cans
Fruit that has fallen off trees
Because their diets are so broad and indiscriminate, it is important to eliminate potential food sources in and around your home.
Step II: Exterminate existing mice and rat populations
If mice and rats are already active inside your structure, it is imperative that they be removed. This is where many homeowners fail. You see, they’ll run out to the store to purchase traps, bring them back and set them up everywhere they believe rodents are or could be. The thing is, we often don’t give rodents enough credit. They are suspicious by nature and will take their time approaching a situation they are uncertain of. If a trap filled with peanut butter is all of a sudden in their proximity, that does not mean they will make a beeline for it. DIY rodent traps also fail when they are placed improperly. Mice and rats typically don’t travel in open areas or across wide expanse of flooring. Instead, they keep to the sides of rooms and travel along walls to maintain anonymity. Of course, there are other rodent control products on the store shelves or available on Amazon, such as baits, feed bars, and drop in the bucket multiple catch animal traps (yes, that’s a thing) but they also have their drawbacks as you can imagine.
The best way to get exterminate an existing rodent problem in your home is to contact a local pest control company that specializes in rodent control.
Step III: Make your yard and property less appealing to rodents
As mentioned above, rodents are voracious and indiscriminate eaters so anything in your yard that could be food for these hungry rodents must go. Besides food, rodents also infest properties that have ample hiding spots. Here are some common places to find rodents:
In stumps and tree cavities
In or under vegetation
In abandoned nests
Inside cars and yard equipment
In order to make your grounds less appealing to both mice and rats, we highly recommend removing food sources and eliminating potential hiding spots. Obviously, you’re not going to cut down every tree that has a hole in it, stop gardening, or disassemble a rock wall but you can make smaller, common-sense changes, such as:
Harvesting gardens and fruit trees regularly
Removing old tires
Grinding down stumps
Picking up brush piles
Storing trash in cans that have tight-fitting lids and that are made of a material that can withstand rodent teeth
Investing in rodent-proof compost bins
Step IV: Keep mice and rats out of your home by pest-proofing
Rodents are opportunistic and will slip through any hole that will accommodate their girth. Mice, for example, can fit through holes that are approximately quarter of an inch or larger and rats, about three-quarters of an inch. In order to keep them out, you should seal any opening on the exterior of your structure that is ¼ of an inch or greater. When we say any opening, we mean ANY opening from the foundation up to the chimney. Here are a few rodent-proofing tips to get you going:
Caulk holes around pipes and utility lines
Install a chimney cap
Use both steel wool and caulking to plug up cracks and gaps
Install weather stripping under garage doors
Pine State Offers Rodent Control Services In Maine
For effective rodent control, contact Pine State Pest Solutions. Serving Portland, Auburn, and Brunswick as well as communities throughout our multi-county service area, our locally owned and operated pest control company offers comprehensive solutions that eradicate existing rodent activity and that prevents new infestations of mice and/or rats. What’s more, for homeowners who find themselves battling more than rodents, Pine State offers year-round home pest control plans that target both rodents and common house-infesting bugs including but not limited to ants, spiders, and roaches.