Our Southern Arizona winters tend to be mild compared to other regions in the United States, but the cool weather can increase the risk for a rodent infestation inside your home as they seek warm shelter. Just the thought of rodents inside your home is enough to make your skin crawl, but there are also significant risks to both your property and your health. Rodents are notorious for chewing through electrical wiring, water lines, and even wood material like baseboards and drywall. In addition, rodents are known carries of diseases like Hantavirus and their hairs and feces also contain allergens that can trigger asthma attacks, especially in children. If you’re worried about pack rats and mice moving indoors for the winter, here are some tips for identifying and managing this pest problem.
Pack rats, also known as wood rats, are native to our desert region. They’re a persistent problem for homeowners and easily adapt to living in your home. As the name suggests, pack rats are really pack rats. They will collect small items around your home and bring them back to the nest. Small objects, toys and food wrappers are just some of the things they might collect.
Aside from some missing items, you may also see rat droppings or hear them at night when they are most active. Pack rats often take up residence in attics and inside walls where they hope to avoid human contact. Pack rats have large ears, white feet and bellies, and are usually around six to eight inches long.
Mice are much smaller than adult rats so identification is usually easy. They’re typically only two to four inches long with dusty gray coloring and a lighter belly. They are a common nuisance in homes and readily avail themselves of food in your pantry or cabinets. Their telltale sign, mouse droppings, are often found in kitchen drawers, behind toasters and in your cupboards. Like pack rats, they are nocturnal and are quite busy raiding your pantry while you are sleeping.
Inspect your home for any easy points of access for rodents. Check for cracks, gaps, and small holes around your foundation, siding, windows, and doors, and make sure to seal them. Rats can typically fit through a hole the size of your thumb. Mice only need about the size of your pinky finger to gain access. If you have woodpiles, logs or compost bins near your house, relocate them to another part of your yard.
If you have pack rats or mice — as well as any other pests — we can help. Call the professionals at Bill’s Home Service to keep your home rodent free at (520) 200-7043.