Unless they’re pets, rats and mice can become a huge problem in your house year-round — especially during the cold St. Louis winters. They’re called “pests” for a reason! They can wreak havoc on your home, they can carry disease, and it can be pretty unnerving to see them scurry across your floor.
What’s the difference between rats and mice?
The most common rodents in the U.S. are the house mouse, the Norway rat and the roof rat. Aside from their obvious differences in physical appearance, rats and mice also differ in behavior, habitat and breeding, and movement.
Physical appearance: The house mouse is most common in the U.S.They have small heads and feet with pointed snouts and weigh about a half-ounce. Norway rats have thick bodies with a blunt snout and large ears. Roof rats have thin bodies and pointed snouts, and large hairless ears.
Behavior: Mice are curious and love to explore new places, which could make it easier to place traps where they’ll easily find them. Rats are much more cautious and trapping them could take more time as they get used to something different in their space.
Habitat and breeding: Mice will feed on anything and build their hidden nests near easy-access food sources. They use soft material like paper and fabric to build their nests. When it comes to breeding, mice live 9-12 months and can have up to 60 babies a year! Rats, on the other hand, like to eat meat and need fluid every day. Norway rats will dig and live in burrows while roof rats live in attics and walls. They will produce anywhere from 64-70 babies a year and live 12-18 months.
Movement: Mice are nocturnal and very fast runners, along with being great jumpers, swimmers, and climbers. Mice don’t like bright lights and can travel through holes as small as ¼ inch. Rats are strong swimmers and can travel into your home through drain pipes or even toilets. (Yuck!) They also follow the same path every day and stay within 300 feet of their nests.
How do I know if I have rats or mice in my home?
Rats and mice definitely make themselves known when they infest your home! Here are some of the most common signs.
- Droppings — indicate the type of rodent, their age, and their location
- Urine odors — a strong, musky smell will indicate an infestation
- Gnawed holes — you’ll see holes in furniture, walls, and even firewood
- Rub and teeth marks — rodents leave an oily trail on walls and marks where they gnaw
- Pathways — rodents have paths where they travel along walls, wires, and building foundations
- Nests — a collection of paper or fabric, or burrow holes along the ground
- Noises — you’ll hear rodents scurrying and scampering at night
- Pet behavior — cats and dogs will likely let you know when there are unwanted guests
How do I keep rats and mice out of my home this winter?
Here’s the good news: There are plenty of steps you can take to keep rodents from infesting your home this winter.
- Store your food — and your pets’ food. Clean crumbs and countertops, wipe down your fridge regularly and seal food bags and containers. Don’t forget dog and cat food bags; these are gourmet eats for rats and mice.
- Keep rodents out by sealing up holes. Remember that mice and rats only need a space that’s a fraction of an inch wide to squeeze through. Fix window screens, foundation cracks, and even plumbing pipes that lead outdoors. Cap off your chimney, too.
- Do your exterior doors have brush strips at the bottom? They should. Even the smallest gaps could be like a neon “OPEN!” sign for rodents to slip through. Bonus: They will help seal your house against drafts and boost energy efficiency.
- Clean out the clutter in your basement and attic. Piles of laundry, clusters of boxes, and old newspaper collections are prime real estate for rodents who are looking to set up shop in your home. Tidy up and elevate boxes.
Even if you take all the steps to prevent rats and mice from entering your home this winter, there’s still a chance you will face a rodent infestation. Rats are as tricky as mice when it comes to them getting into your home. What you need right now is a dependable rodent control team to handle your rodent problem as quickly as possible.
Our PestShield team of experts knows all of their tricks and knows exactly what it takes to get rid of rats and mice for good. Call us now, so we can get on the scene and reclaim your home. You’ll be feeling safer in no time.