Rodents can wreak havoc on your home when left unchecked. As scavengers on the lookout for resources, they can chew through your walls, destroy your food stash, and even gnaw on the insulation of your electrical wires to get what they need. It’s crucial to pay attention to signs of a rodent’s presence in your house before it’s too late.
So what are the signs that you have rodents lurking in your home? Here are 10 things that can alert you to a potential rodent infestation:
Rats and mice may differ in the way they look but they act similarly. You will know if there is a rodent in your home if you spot any of the following signs:
You can be certain that there’s a rodent in your home if you see their droppings around. Rodent droppings are black, oval-shaped pellets that look like grains of rice. Fresh droppings are usually dark and moist while older droppings would look dry, gray, and dusty. It’s important to keep these descriptions in mind because you may mistake them for cockroach droppings.
A mouse or rat can produce up to 50 droppings a day and you’ll see these pellets in areas where the rodents are most active, such as their nesting or feeding sites. You can also expect to see droppings close to where food is stored, like kitchen cabinets or pantries. When you encounter rodent droppings, be sure to wear protective gloves when you dispose of them in a sealed plastic bag. Do not vacuum or sweep them because any disturbance may cause them to release virus and bacteria particles.
All rodents have special teeth that allow them to chew through most surfaces. These incisors grow continuously so rats and mice have to find hard materials to gnaw on. If rodents are in your home, you would see gnaw marks all over the wooden structures, pipes, and cardboard boxes in your home.
Both mice and rats can gnaw on plastic, rubber, cables, and wiring but their favorite is wood. Aside from marks, you may also see wood chips or coarse sawdust lying around. You would know if a mark on wood was made by a rodent if it was light-colored when new, then darkened as time went on. Gnaw marks can also help you identify if you have a rat or mouse problem because larger marks indicate rats, who have larger teeth.
Rats and mice like to build warm and cozy nests where they can. Outdoors, you can spot their burrows as unusual lumps or holes around your lawn. It’s a little less easy to find them indoors because they choose dark, secluded, and undisturbed areas to live in. They chew small holes inside drawers, cabinets, or other furniture and stuff these spaces with soft, fuzzy nesting materials.
If you see unexpected tears or holes in clothing or bedding, you can assume a rodent bit these objects to get to the materials inside. They also like building their nests with shredded newspapers, cardboard, furniture stuffing, and grass. You will know they are there if you see any of these fibrous items scattered around.
Rodents are nocturnal animals with poor vision. Because of this limitation, they tend to follow the same route for feeding every night and stick close to the walls. In doing so, the dirt and oils on their fur create a pattern of grease marks on the wall. If you see any of the dark rub marks, you can assume that this area sees a lot of rodent traffic. You can be doubly sure if you spot any droppings and smell urine along these paths.
Most rodents are active at night so don’t be alarmed if you can hear scurrying, scratching noises when you’re getting ready to sleep. Rats and mice can squeeze through the tiniest entrances and travel through your walls on their way to undisturbed areas like your attic. If you hear squeaking noises, you can guess there is more than one rodent present as they communicate through these sounds.
Of course, you can be absolutely sure there are mice or rats in the house if you see one. Whether they are dead or alive, more sightings mean more rodents. This is a big problem because rats and mice breed fast.
Seeing a live rodent during the daytime may also indicate a large infestation. Mice and rats operate in a hierarchical social system. This means weaker rodents are forced to be disadvantaged and have to scavenge for scraps during the day, rather than at night.
Mice and rats leave a lot of tracks behind when they travel. Their footprints and even tail prints would appear in dusty areas. Mice have tiny feet with a length of 3/8 inch or less. Rat feet are much larger at 3/4 - 1 inch long and they drag their tails behind them as they move.
To check for footprints, you can shine a flashlight on an area you suspect mice and rats to pass by. You may also see smudge marks, urine stains, or droppings here. If you’re still unsure, you can coat the floor with a thin layer of baby powder or flour to see if the rodents are active.
Rodents enjoy the same foods we do such as grains, seeds, nuts, cereals, fruits, meats, and chocolate. An adult mouse can eat 3 - 4 grams of food per day, making up to 30 visits to their preferred food source. This could be your pantry, cupboard, or even where you stash dog food. Rats are even bigger eaters who can consume up to 10% of their body weight daily.
Unfortunately, rodents will nibble on anything they think smells nice -- even soap. They will leave strange holes or tears through food packaging during their pantry raids. If you suspect that your food has been tampered with, do not eat these. Rodents may have contaminated them with their saliva, transmitting diseases like salmonella and hantavirus.
Rodents leave a very distinct, musky scent in their urine. The stench of ammonia can be strong in enclosed areas where they lurk, such as cabinets, drawers, or dark attic corners. You might even smell them through the floorboard or walls where they travel. While some do this to mark their territory, others simply have weak bladders.
Another foul smell that can alert you of rodent is the smell of a dead rat or mouse. The rotting carcass emits a terrible odor that can cause headaches and nausea. If you plan on removing a dead rodent yourself, wear protective gear before touching it.
Pets have an extraordinary sense of smell which can help you figure out where rodents are hiding. If your dogs or cats paw or sniff a spot they normally wouldn’t, there is a good chance they can smell rats or mice. It’s no guarantee if the rodents are still there but it’s a point you should raise with your exterminator.
New York is one of the most populous areas in the US, which makes it an ideal home for rodents and pests since they can access plenty of resources.
Protect your living space from these critters by calling Positive Pest Management, one of the city’s finest pest control service providers. We handle all kinds of pest issues and infestations with solutions that fit your unique situation. Call us to schedule an inspection today.
Read more: 6 Ways to Scare Rats Away