Rodent season is just around the corner. Rodents look for opportunities to access our structures when the weather turns wet. I’m going to focus on the 3 most common rodents that will likely be the ones looking for access to your home.
I've included a bit of biology about each rodent which provides us the ability to properly identify the rodent species, and then helps us select the proper rodent control products and exclusion material needed to keep them from gaining access to your home.
Rodent droppings are also a key component in identifing which specie(s) of rodent may be infesting your home. Many insects have simular droppings or scats that may be confused for rodent droppings. Rodent droppings have hair in them and insects do not, so with a hand lens you can quickly rule out insects if you know what your looking at.
Roents are the second most successful mammal on earth, and for good reason. They have learned to live along side us and have found adaption to be pretty easy. Lets take a look a little closer why they do so well.
Rodents are almost blind and use their sense of touch for guidance, but can detect light and dark and movement quite well.
Rodents can taste up to 250 parts per billion
Newborns taste mother's diet through her milk and prefer the foods she ate when they grow up
Rodents react negatively to foods that made them feel ill and it only needs to happen once for them to remember
If deprived of a certain nutrient, rodents learn which foods fill that need and prefer those until that need is met.
Approximately 1% of rat's genes are involved in their sense of smell
They produce & release pheromones to communicate information with other rodents (i,e, colony status, reproductive behavior, etc.)
Rodents long whiskers, or vibrissae, are located all over the body, but are most prominent on the face. These hairs are used for guidance as they move along walls and other objects.
Sonic and ultrasonic range
They can hear sounds that we cannot and also communicate with sound, squeaks, clicks, and whines that we cannot hear.
6. Kinesthetic Sense
Rodents exhibit memorized muscle movement in which they effectively memorize their environment
They create memory of the environment and how to move through it without looking.
So I hope you have a better understanding of the biology of the rodent and why they have become so comfortable in our homes.
Because rodents can gain access into homes through a hole as little as 1/4 inch for a mouse and 1/2 for a full grown rat. Because of the small opening needed to gain access, many rodent jobs fail because of a poor inspection. During the inspection process, rodent droppings can tell the inspecter how old the colony is, the size of the infestation and helps locate high activity areas that will help with the implementation of the program. Looking for gnaw marks, rub marks also help understand activity levels.
Harborage Reduction is also a key component in reducing areas where rodents will hide and nest. Keeping the yard clean, vegetation cut short; tall grass protects rodents from predators. Keep overhanging trees cut back, over hanging trees provide dark shadowy areas where rodents feel safe and protected.
Keeping a 2 foot barrier of rocks or cement around the foundation of your home will help keep rodents from nesting near the structure and discourages activity.
Rodent exclusion requires special knowledge, tools and materials and a good understanding of how homes are constructed. Many homes have issues on the roof and eve lines that were never sealed when the home was built. I have found that many builders aren't really concerned with these openings because they were focusing on keeping water out, so if an eve line covers the opening they sometimes will leave a large opening that is a sure way for Roof Rats to gain access. This is typical where two different roof lines meet.
Once your home is properly sealed up to keep rodents out you should have it rechecked each year. When service companies come out and do what it is they do the integrity of exclusion work should last many years as long as vents don't become damaged or not put back properly. The cable company, phone company, electrictions, plumber, etc. will in the course of their work sometimes remove or damage vents or make new openings.