As members of the rodent family, mice and rats look very similar and are often mistaken for one another. Both are harmful, transmitting serious diseases to humans and pets, contaminating surfaces in our home, and chewing through structures and wires, causing damage and putting you at risk for fires. How do you know if you are dealing with a mouse vs rat? Here are 5 key differences between these two rodents.
Mice are noticeably smaller than rats, growing 3 to 4 inches in length. Mice weigh anywhere from 0.5 oz to 3 oz. A mouse’s tail is equal in length to its body and is thin, long, and covered in hair. Mice have small heads and large ears with pointy, triangular snots and smooth fur. Mice can be white, gray, or brown in color. Rats, on the other hand, are much larger, measuring 9″ to 11″ in length and weighing anywhere from 12 oz to 1.5 lbs. A rat’s tail can be 7″ to 9″ in length and is long, thick, scaly, and hairless. Rats have small ears and large heads with blunt snouts. They have coarse fur that can be dark brown or multicolored.
Mice have smaller droppings, about 1/4″ in length. Mice droppings are black with pointed ends and resemble a grain of rice. Mice can leave up to 100 droppings at a time. Rat droppings are larger with an elongated oval shape. These droppings are about 3/4″ long, black in color, and resemble a banana. Rats can leave up to 50 droppings at a time. Rodent droppings of both species are known to carry diseases that can be harmful to humans.
While both species are omnivores, their diets tend to vary. Mice commonly eat fruit, seeds, and plants. In your home they may nibble on bread crumbs or other cereals and grains. Their palates are not as wide as rats. Mice can also survive on 3 mL of water per day. Rats, on the other hand, will eat almost anything, even scavenging through your garbage for fruit, eggs, meat, and other leftovers. They will also eat plants and seeds. Rats need anywhere from 15 to 60 mL of water per day.
While both rats and mice will come into your home, they tend to frequent different areas once inside. Mice can be found in garages, under trees, under decks, and in walls and other voids that are too small for other rodents to get into. The species of rat you are dealing with determines where they prefer to live. Norway rats can be found in sewers, inside walls, and in cellars. They prefer lower levels of your home to reside in. Roof rats prefer higher environments, often being found in cabinets and attics.
Mice are nocturnal animals. They are timid but social within their own populations. They are very territorial and more curious than rats, making them easier to trap. They are skillful climbers and can access areas rats can’t because of their small size. Rats are also nocturnal but are more cautious and fearful of new things than mice are, making them more difficult to trap. Rats are also skillful climbers. Both rats and mice will gnaw through structures and wiring in your home, causing damage and putting you at risk for fire. Mice have weaker teeth and can’t chew through glass or metal to get to food. Rats have much stronger jaws and have been known to chew through wood, glass, sheet metal, aluminum, and even cinder blocks.
Regardless of which pest you are dealing with, proper identification and treatment is essential to eliminating them. Contact your local pest control company who can determine which type of pest you have and set you up with the appropriate rodent control plan to eliminate them.
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Since 2008, Northwest Exterminating has supported Toys for Tots. Each year, all of our service centers come together to donate toys to help bring holiday cheer to children across the Atlanta area. We always enjoy the opportunity to fill up boxes with toys to donate, and our corporate office enjoyed being able to serve as a drop site for another year. This allowed Northwest teammates and those in our community to have another convenient option to bring by donated toys.
This year, Sgt. Rivera came by our office to help us with our toy collection. All these toys came from two events and needed to get to the Marines at the base. They have over 90 events on schedule to attend throughout the year, and at each of them, they help collect toys or raise money for Toys for Tots. We enjoy the extraordinary relationship that we have built with them over the years and love to see the difference that we have been able to make together.
The Atlanta Toys for Tots goal is “to deliver, through a new toy at Christmas, a message of hope to less fortunate youngsters that will assist them in becoming responsible, productive, patriotic citizens.” This is part of why our Northwest team enjoys partnering with them every year because our goal is to provide simple, meaningful opportunities for our teammates to create a positive impact in the communities we serve.
We know that the holiday season can be tough on many people. Having the opportunity to give back and support an organization that does so much for those around us is something our team is truly grateful for. We look forward to hearing how many children were able to be impacted this year and to continuing our partnership with Toys for Tots in the upcoming years.
The cockroach might just seem like a creepy, annoying nuisance, but it can cause more damage than expected. Cockroaches transmit over 30 different kinds of bacteria – E. Coli, Salmonella, and more. In addition to this, they can also trigger asthma and allergy attacks as their droppings, saliva and shed skin contain allergens that increase asthma symptoms, especially in children.
As one of the most common household pests, it’s important to keep roaches under control to lessen the effects they cause. Here we breakdown the types of cockroaches you could be seeing in your home and how you can prevent them in the future.
Types of Cockroaches
- American Cockroach: The largest of the house-infesting cockroaches, the American cockroach is found throughout the United States and worldwide. They are reddish-brown with a yellowish figure-eight pattern on the back of their head. They are often found in basements and sewers. These pests are attracted to moist surfaces and can also be found in bathrooms, kitchens, and laundry rooms.
- Brown-Banded Cockroach: This species first entered the U.S. in 1903 and is now found nationwide. The brown-banded cockroach got its name from the two light brown bands that appear across its wings. They prefer warmer, drier, and higher locations in a room and can be found mostly in cabinets and behind picture frames. This species will typically hide its egg cases in or underneath furniture.
- German Cockroach: The German cockroach is the most common species found worldwide and is found across the U.S. They prefer warm and humid spaces but are typically found in spaces where humans eat, such as kitchens. They can be identified by their light brown body with two dark brown stripes on their back.
- Oriental Cockroach: The Oriental cockroach exhibits a dark reddish-brown to shiny black color and is found in the northern regions of the United States. They are commonly found in sewers and enter homes through drains or door thresholds. This species is considered the dirtiest of all cockroaches due to the strong odor that they create.
- Seal Entrances: With cooler weather approaching, cockroaches are seeking warmer hiding places. Ensuring all openings in doors, windows, and foundations are sealed is the first step to take. Replace old weather-stripping and make sure there are no holes in window screens to help stop these intruders.
- Focus on the Kitchen: One of the most effective ways to prevent cockroaches is to begin pest-proofing in the kitchen. Clean up any spills or crumbs immediately and take the trash out regularly to prevent roaches from wanting to stay. The pantry can also be included by this – consider storing your food in sealed containers.
- Limit Moisture: Roaches need water to survive. Dripping faucets and leaky pipes will attract these pests inside your home. Look throughout the house for any loose pipes and seal them as soon as possible. To dry up areas in your basement, employ a dehumidifier to take care of that. If you have a crawlspace, consider enclosing your crawlspace to ensure no moisture is found.
- Declutter: Cockroaches like to find hiding places during the daytime, but by nightfall they emerge. Decluttering and cleaning out items to limit their hiding spaces may help in preventing them in the long run. Some ways to declutter include old newspapers, utilizing plastic containers over cardboard, and making sure clothing isn’t piled on the floor.
While prevention can help keep cockroaches away, sometimes it’s best to get a professional involved. A local pest control company will be able to inspect your home and provide you with the best treatment and prevention plan going forward.
Many pests hibernate or “die off” during the winter, causing homeowners to feel like they can relax during the colder months. Overwintering pests, however, are here to rain on your parade. These pests seek refuge inside our homes looking for food, water, and a warm place to hide until the weather outside is more favorable. Here are 6 winter pests to watch out for along with tips to prevent them.
Ants will come in through the tiniest holes or cracks in the exterior of your home. They also like to sneak in on plants and flowers that are brought indoors. Ants are masters of overwintering, typically seeking out warm places deep in the soil or under rocks to hide out. Food can be scarce, though, and your home provides the perfect location for them to get everything they need to survive the winter – food, water, and warmth. The first step to ant control in your home is to get rid of their food source. Make sure food is well sealed and crumbs are cleaned up from floors and counters.
Beetles like to come indoors to get out of the cold. They are known to hide in the warmest areas of your home, such as near dryers or water heaters. Elm leaf beetles and click beetles are two of the most common overwintering beetles you may encounter. They are often brought inside on firewood. If you spot beetles inside, vacuum them up and immediately discard the bag or canister contents. Eliminate their food sources by keeping your kitchen and bathroom clean. Caulk windows or use weatherstripping around them. Keep wood piles and leaf litter away from your home. Inspect any wood before bringing it inside.
Silverfish prefer damp, cold places and will usually be found hanging out in your basement or bathroom. They are common in the winter months, often hitching a ride as you are hauling your holiday decorations in and out of your attic or garage. They feed on books, glue, wallpaper, and boxes. Keep silverfish under control by vacuuming often and decluttering your home. Get rid of any old newspapers, mail, and cardboard laying around. Inspect any boxes before bringing them inside. Store clothes in sealed bins, preferably made of plastic rather than cardboard.
Ladybugs will come inside through window cracks and openings to shelter from the cold. While they don’t bite, they will secrete a yellow fluid with an unpleasant odor that not only attracts other ladybugs, but can also leave an unsightly stain on your walls, floors, ceilings, and more. Control ladybugs by locating and sealing any entry points you can find. Vacuum them up or spray them with soapy water. The soapy water will not only get rid of the ladybugs, but it will also get rid of the smell, helping prevent other ladybugs from coming back.
Roaches come indoors during winter for heat and humidity as they cannot survive the cold temperatures outdoors. They are also attracted to plants, leaf litter and mulch. Cockroaches pose a serious health risk to humans as they are known to transmit diseases and trigger allergies and asthma. They will also hitch a ride inside on grocery bags, boxes, and used appliances. They prefer to hang out in kitchens and bathrooms. Keep roaches at bay by cleaning counters and floors and vacuuming frequently. Dispose of your garbage regularly. Keep kitchens and bathrooms clean, especially under appliances and cabinets.
Spiders seek out warm, dark places to hide during the winter, usually in your basement, attic, or rarely used corners of rooms. They will also hide out in boxes and rarely used clothes and shoes. Keep spiders under control this winter by decluttering your home. Dust, vacuum, and sweep out cobwebs frequently. Discard any old boxes and packages they can use to hide out in. Keep trees and shrubs trimmed away from your home and cut back overhanging limbs from the roof. Store clothes and shoes in plastic containers.
No one wants to deal with pests inside their home regardless of what season it is. If you have a problem with pests at any time during the year, contact your local pest control company who can help identify the type of pest you have, identify entry points, and set up a treatment and prevention plan going forward.
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With the new year here, many of us begin to think of our latest New Year’s resolutions and goals. If you’re like most, saving money could be at the top of your resolution list. While pest proofing doesn’t always come to mind when wanting to save money, it can help in the long run with both cost and stress. Here are 5 simple steps you can take when pest-proofing your home in the coming year.
Clean the Kitchen
Pests come into homes looking for food, shelter, and water. It’s essential to keep your home, especially your kitchen, clean to help eliminate the chance of a pest infestation. After each meal, wipe up any crumbs or spills left on the dining room table, countertops, and stovetop. Consider storing the pantry food in air-tight plastic containers. Always dispose of your garbage regularly throughout the week and use garbage cans with tightly sealed lids.
Household pests such as mice, cockroaches, and rats can easily sneak inside your home through the smallest gap or opening. It’s important to inspect all the exterior walls of your home, looking for any cracks and gaps, and sealing them immediately with caulk. Take a closer look at where your utilities and pipes come into the house, as well, for any gaps and holes.
Pests need water to survive and if they find it in a particular spot, they will keep coming back to it. Check around your home for any water leaks and look for loose fixtures or dripping faucets. Even the smallest amount of standing water can attract pests like mosquitoes or termites. Consider enclosing your crawlspace to help control and reduce moisture throughout your home, all while saving money on energy bills.
Prevent Outdoor Pests
Not only should you pest-proof inside your home, but you should always pest-proof outside too. Look around your yard and get rid of any dead bushes and branches. Make sure to rake up all the leaves from your yard too. Trim back tree limbs hanging over your roof, as pests like squirrels or raccoons will use them to gain access to your attic.
Move Your Firewood
Did you know that some pests will inhabit your stored firewood? Pests like cockroaches and termites will often use firewood for shelter, hitching rides into your home via the logs. To avoid this type of infestation, keep your firewood stored at least 20 feet away from your home and elevate it if possible. Before you bring the firewood inside to use, make sure to inspect it and brush it off.
Dealing with a pest problem is never a great way to start the New Year. If you need further assistance in pest prevention or already have an existing pest problem, consider reaching out to your local pest control company where they will inspect your home and set you up with a treatment and prevention plan.