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Rats and mice gnaw on soft materials constantly. In the process, they’ll chew through electrical wire, damage furniture, ruin storage material, and rip up insulation. The pests also leave behind feces and urine everywhere, which soils food and could become a serious health hazard.

Rodent infestations are extremely common, especially in fall and winter. Almost everyone has dealt with rats and mice at some point in their lives. Unfortunately, however, rats and mice are also some of the most damaging pests you can have in your home. Not only can rats inflict expensive damage relatively quickly, they’re also surprisingly dangerous. These are the four worst things rodents will do to your home and why they happen:

Fire Hazards

Did you know that 25% of house fires attributed to “unknown causes” probably happened because of mice and rats? The word rodent comes from the Latin rodere, which means “to gnaw.” This name refers to the fact that rodent’s incisors never stop growing. In order to keep these incisors sharp and useful, rodents gnaw on soft objects constantly. Most of the damage mice and rats inflict on homes is a direct result of this constant gnawing.

Rats and mice spend most of the time they’re not eating or sleeping gnawing on something. They’ll chew on anything they can find, including cardboard, paper, insulation, plastic, packing materials… and electrical wiring. The longer a rat or mouse gnaws on an electrical wire, the greater the chance they expose and damage it. Damaged wiring sparks and overheats, frequently starting dangerous electrical fires nearby. You should consider any rodent infestation a real and significant fire hazard.

Health Hazards

This is probably the least surprising problem on this list. Rodents are infamous for carrying and transmitting diseases. Rodent feces, urine, saliva, and blood can directly transmit a wide variety of diseases, including Hantavirus and Tularemia. Rodents can also carry ticks, lice, and other pests into your home, which means they can indirectly spread even more diseases. The longer a rodent infestation lasts, the greater the health risk it poses to a home’s inhabitants.

People rarely transmit diseases by coming into direct contact with the rodents in their homes. Instead, they’re afflicted with diseases after inadvertently contacting rodent bi-products such as waste or fur. Rodents are notoriously unsanitary pests. They leave behind feces, urine, fur, and other remains wherever they live--and especially where they eat. The most common way people get sick from rodent contact is by eating food contaminated with rat droppings. Rats usually feed on dry pantry goods, but they’ll take just about anything they can find.

Food Damage

Obviously, in order to contaminate your food, rodents have to get into it first. Rats and mice are notorious for their ability to find and make their way inside stored foods. Both rats and mice have an amazingly potent sense of smell. They can sniff out the specific location of food through doors, containers, and even walls. In fact, rodents often infiltrate your home in the first place by following the smell of food.

Once they’ve located food sources, rodents rarely have trouble accessing them. Rats can squeeze through any opening the size of a quarter or wider. Their gnawing incisors help them tear through boxes and bags. Once established, rodents build nests near food sources. Left unchecked, they’ll eat and spread continuously. Rats and mice in your food isn’t just a significant health risk; it’s also a significant expense! Contaminated food is wasted food--and wasting food can get expensive in a hurry.

Structural Damage

Rats and mice spend their time eating, gnawing, building nests, and reproducing. Every single one of these rodent pastimes ends up hurting your home. Rodents work through way through walls, nooks, and crannies to get food, and they dislodge insulation and weatherproofing in the process. When they’re not eating, they’re gnawing on any wood, plastic, fabric, or paper they can find. Eventually, all that gnawing can wear down furniture, tear out insulation, or ruin paper products.

To make their nests, rats and mice drag insulation, paper, packing materials, and various garbage into nooks, crannies, and basement corners. They’ll often pull this material off of your nearby furniture or boxes. Worst of all, while they’re doing all this gnawing and ripping and tearing, they’re also having babies. These babies will grow (quickly!) and start doing gnawing, ripping, and tearing of their own. Rodent damage tends to get exponentially worse as time goes on.

The only truly reliable way to prevent each of these problems is to keep rodents out of your home. Of course, that’s often easier said than done. The next best way to protect yourself from rodent damage is to put an end to rodent infestations ASAP. We can help with that.


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