More info below on Rodents
By mid-fall of every year, through out most of the U.S. and similar temperate zones, domestic mice and rats and some other local outdoors species will ,have already found the places they plan to spend the winter. There may not yet be enough signs for you to notice them, their droppings or other signs, but that could change quickly. They have most likely begun producing their next litters, and have found and laid down trails to the places where you keep the food and nesting materials they will need for the next several months. One morning soon, you may be surprised to find a hole chewed in your cereal box or rodent droppings on your kitchen counter, or even mouse hairs on your dishes.
The house mouse is the most common pest in and around human living and working places. They damage and destroy materials by gnawing, eating your food (especially cereal products or nuts), attacking decorations such as floral or harvest/grain” arrangements. They can carry human diseases and ectoparasites that may bite people or pets. The house mouse has a head-plus-body length of about 2.5 to 3.5 inches, and is gray with dull white belly fur. An adult only weighs about an ounce, but they eat often (nibble) and leave their typical `calling card’ droppings at places where they sat down to feed for a little while. Mouse droppings are long and pointed compared to the larger, blunt droppings of rats.
Mice may look cuddly, but they breed rapidly. A house mouse can breed 35 days after it was born, and can have its own first litter of up to eight pups by the time it is 60 days old. Although they usually live only about a year, if all their offspring lived and reproduced at a similar rate, one pair of house mice could produce a population of more than 500 mice in one year.
Mice are good at climbing and jumping. They can jump about a foot straight up, and can jump down more than six feet without getting hurt. An adult mouse can squeeze through a crack or hole as small as 3/8-inch across and can quickly climb straight up an eight-foot wall of brick or wood paneling in less than half a minute. Even though one mouse doesn’t eat much, as their population grows, they can eat a surprising amount of food. They also damage food containers, and their droppings and urine droplets contaminate a lot more food than they eat. In a year, one mouse produces up to 18,000 droppings; and it will deposit hundreds of micro-droplets of urine every day as it marks its trails.
Mice can spread more than 20 kinds of organisms that can cause diseases of humans and pets. These include a variety of food poisoning bacteria like Salmonella, Shigella, E. coli, and others; tapeworms, mites, ticks, and rickettsial pox.
Other rodents, which are widespread and may also come indoors for the winter such as deer mice and white-footed mice which can carry and spread other disease organisms like Hantavirus, plague and Lyme Disease.
Hantavirus is a deadly disease spread over most of the U.S. As of June 2002, of the 318 human cases reported by the CDC, from 31 states, 37% have been fatal. Deer mice (Peromyscus maniculatus) are a major host of the virus. The virus is transmitted to humans via dust that is inhaled after it has been contaminated by the mouse’s saliva, urine, and feces.
The white-footed mouse (Peromyscus leucopus) is distributed through the contiguous 48 states of the U.S. This mouse plays a vital role in the life cycle of Lyme Disease. According to the CDC, over 16,000 human cases of Lyme Disease were reported during the year 2000. Although it is infected ticks that bite humans and pets, the white-footed mouse is the source of the bacteria that causes the disease. The larva tick, soon after it hatches, feeds on the mouse and gets infected. Elimination of this mouse species near homes and businesses can reduce this public health threat.
Exterior – Rats are frequently a neighborhood problem. They favor areas with many hiding place. If there is exterior clutter, high grass or weeds, decorative ground cover, compost files, firewood stacks, shed, trash can, it provides easy cover for movement. If there are ready food sources your home will become the feeding stations such as your bird feeder, garbage cans without tight lids, and feces of cats or dogs (unpleasant, but it makes a good case for using the pooper/scooper). If you are feeding any wildlife such as birds, squirrels or chipmunk unfortunately you become a target for rats. You may have to consider curtailing this activity for a while. If you choose not to, control may be much slower.
If you do have exterior activity; it is much better to deal with them outside than inside. These are very smart and agile critters. Exterior control measures involve treating holes that are their burrows, placing bait stations, and traps. A trained professional can identify their holes and harborage areas.
Interior – This urban rodent produces the most fear of pests we deal with. Their size and fearsome depiction in the media make them a most unwelcome invader. If a rat is inside your home, you will know about it. The noise will be loud in walls or in dropped ceilings. Their droppings are large and oblong. There may be visible puddles of urine. The can chew holes in plastic or cardboard containers. They can move a piece of fruit or package of food across a table, counter, or floor. They can make a big mess in a short period of time. Your pets may spend protracted periods starring at an appliance or counter, staking out their prey. Rats will feed on dog/cat food, cat feces, and of course any food left out.