During the winter season, it's estimated that rodents seek shelter in more than 21 millions homes in the United States. This means that many homeowners will likely be dealing with mice or rats in their abode over the next few months - and you could be one of them.
Rodents can spread dangerous diseases and can cause major property damage, so it's important for homeowners to familiarize themselves with the types of rodents that invade homes this time of year. Here is a guide to help you identify common mice and rat species.
Facts about house mice:
- Region: House mice are found throughout the United States.
- Habitat: Unlike deer mice, house mice usually nest in dark, secluded areas within structures. They are excellent climbers and can jump up to a foot high.
- Threats: House mice can cause serious property damage by chewing through materials. In fact, they have been known to spark electrical fires by gnawing on wires inside homes. These rodents are also a health threat, as they can contaminate stored food and spread diseases like Salmonella, tapeworms and the plague (via fleas).
- Prevention tip: House mice hide in clutter, so it's important to keep storage areas clean and store boxes off the floor. Also, keep food in sealed, rodent-proof containers.
- Unique fact: House mice can fit through an opening as small as a dime. Although they have poor vision and are color blind, their other senses are very keen.
Facts about Norway Rats:
- Region: Like house and deer mice, Norway rats are found throughout the United States.
- Habitat: Norway rats are primarily nocturnal and often burrow in piles of garbage or under concrete slabs. They tend to enter homes in the fall when outside food sources become scarce. Indoors, Norway rats nest in basements, attics and other undisturbed dwellings.
- Threats: Norway rats can cause significant damage to property by gnawing through a variety of materials, including plastic and lead pipes, to obtain food and water. They are also vectors of disease, such as plague, jaundice, rat-bite fever, cowpox virus, trichinosis and salmonellosis. In addition, these rats can introduce fleas and mites into a home.
- Prevention tip: Regularly inspect the home for signs of an infestation, such as droppings, gnaw marks, damaged food goods and grease rub marks caused by rats' oily fur.
- Unique fact: Norway rats can gain entry to a home through a hole larger than ½ inch, or the size of a quarter.