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The National Pest Management Association has declared October 21-27 “Rodent Awareness Week.” It’s an appropriate week for rodent awareness, too, because right around now rats and mice are more active than ever. Every fall, rodents infiltrate thousands of homes and cause thousands of dollars of damage. That’s certainly something to raise awareness about! If you want to stop rodents from causing trouble in your home you’ll need be aware of them, too. No one should ever assume their home is safe from rats and mice, least of all in fall. Rodent Awareness week is the perfect time to review your rodent-related knowledge. Here’s everything you should know to keep mice and rats away, this week and beyond. ‍

Why rodents are active right now

In fall, rodents like rats and mice are all about finding ways to survive the winter. To do that, they need a place that’s warm where they can also access a regular food supply. Usually, your home is by far the best option nearby. Rats and mice spend late summer and early fall trying to sneak into people’s homes by whatever means necessary. Once inside, they generally seek out hidden, secluded areas where they’ll go unnoticed. Unfortunately, rodents are extremely good at finding tiny cracks and gaps they can use to sneak inside. They can smell all food scents from far away and even through barriers like insulation or walls. Even worse, they use their whiskers to feel for hot air escaping from homes. They’ll follow this hot air back to its source and sneak through the gap that let it out. When they can’t find gaps, they can gnaw their way through vulnerable material to make a way in.

Why rodents are a problem Why rodents are a problem

You probably know that rodents can ruin food and make a mess. But did you know they can be dangerous, too? Mice and rats gnaw on vulnerable material constantly to keep their teeth sharp. Unfortunately, this vulnerable material often includes electrical wires. Rodents frequently chew through electrical cords in homes and cars. Their gnawing wears away at the cord’s insulation and exposes the dangerous livewires within. Exposed wiring could spark, starting dangerous and damaging electrical fires. Rodents spend about 3% of their time everyday gnawing on objects like wires. They even actively seek out soft material they can chew on. Cardboard, plastic, fabric, paper, styrofoam, insulation, and even wood are all fair game. After gnawing on something, they may drag it away to make it part of their nest. This activity often takes place behind a home’s walls where you can’t even see the damage. If you think you have a rodent infestation, you should always take action to remove it immediately.

How to keep rodents away

To keep rodents out, you have to find and seal off all the gaps they use to sneak in. First, install door sweeps on all exterior doors. Then, replace the door’s weatherproofing and seal any cracks you see with caulk. Check the windows, too. Replace window weatherproofing annually, caulk cracks in the frames, and make sure the windows themselves sit properly. Feel for drafts to know where possible gaps may exist. Pay special attention to areas around your home where utility lines enter the structure. Seal gaps around these entrances with caulk or steel wool. Don’t forget to seal up the garage, too! Make sure rodent-favored areas like your basement and attic stay as clean, open, well-ventilated, and dry as possible. Repair plumbing leaks or other sources of ambient moisture and humidity. Keep pantry food in airtight, sealable hard plastic boxes. Clean the areas where you prepare and store food very regularly, and watch for crumb accumulation. Inspect boxes, bags, and other packages before you unpack them in your home. Store your firewood at least 20 feet away from the home. Never assume there “couldn’t be” a rat hiding in whatever you carry inside. We’ve been around for a long time, and we’re still surprised at how resourceful rodents can be! ‌ Of course, you shouldn’t stop at being “aware” of all this rodent information. You have to put it into action! Now that you know what rodents want this fall, you can start making sure they can’t get it. Follow our advice, and you’ll stop even the most determined rodents from using your home as a winter getaway. If you need some help controlling your rodent problem, now’s the perfect time to call Plunkett’s. Our experts can help wipe out your rodent infestation and keep it away for good. With a little awareness and some help from the pros, you can have a rat-free winter!

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