Miami Pest Control: Identifying Common Rodents
Whether you find them in your attic, basement, crawlspace, or just near your property, spotting any rodents on your property is never ideal. These pests can cause significant property damage and pose health risks to you and your family. To avoid these sneaky creatures, it’s important for each homeowner to be aware of the different types of common rodents that will invade their Miami homes.
One of the largest species of rats, Norway rats measure from 13 to 18 inches in body length, are known to have thick fur, and are usually brown in color. These rats prefer to live closer to humans, searching for any food source available. They will eat any food type but usually prefer high-quality foods such as meat and fresh grains. Rats also need a water source to survive since they don’t get moisture needed from their food source and will look for any standing water.
Norway rats will burrow to make their nests underneath buildings, concrete slabs, around ponds, in garbage dumps, and more. In homes, they will typically look to areas that usually go undisturbed, such as crawlspaces or basements. These creatures will cause property damage, such as gnawing through plastic materials or lead pipes. Norway rats will bring fleas and mites into the home.
Only ranging from 5 to 7 inches in length, the house mouse has a fur coloration ranging from light brown to black with a tan or white belly. You can usually tell the difference between a house mouse and a rat by looking at their tails; mice tails are long, rough, and have little to no fur. House mice will eat any food to survive, but they usually like to feed on cereal grains. While rats need water to survive, house mice do not, as they get most of their water from the food they eat.
If these rodents find a food source, they typically stick around that area, establishing a territory 30 to 50 feet from it. House mice are incredible climbers, allowing them to jump and reach isolated or withdrawn areas. If they get inside the home, they can be a threat as they are known to create electrical fires by gnawing on wires.
Slightly smaller than a Norway rat, the roof rat measures around 13 inches in length, including the tail. These rodents are brown, black, or gray with a scaly, snaked tail which is longer than the head and body. They are excellent climbers and prefer to nest in high places within structures, including higher levels of homes, trees, and buildings. Roof rats prefer to eat fruit, vegetables, and cereal products. Roof rats eat a lot all at once and will return to that place time after time for food.
If you suspect any of these rodents inside your home, consider contacting your local Miami pest control company for a rodent control plan that will help remove, exclude, and prevent them in the future!
Rats and mice are both rodents and while they are often mistaken for each other, the similarities really end there. These two pests don’t breed with each other and typically nest in different places. If a population is big enough that the two species cross paths on a regular basis and the food sources nearby are plentiful, then they can inhabit the same area at the same time; this is rare, however. Most often they are competing for the same food and rats will kill mice instead. In fact, mice and rats give off very distinctive odors and mice will flee when they smell rats nearby.
Rats vs mice can be confusing and the two are often mistaken for each other when they infest your home.
Mice are much smaller than rats, usually only 2″ to 4″ long. They typically have lighter brown coloring and dark tails. Their ears are proportionately larger when compared to their body size than those of rats. Mice have wide, blunt snouts, small feet, and small, beady eyes. They prefer to eat grains and plants but will eat leftover food and garbage if inside. They can also go long periods of time without water. They typically nest in hidden areas near their food sources (e.g. your kitchen). They produce more droppings per day than rats (70-150) but their droppings are smaller in size and usually scattered throughout the house. They are more curious than rats and easier to trap.
Rats are much larger than mice, usually ranging from 8″ to 10″ in length. They also have much darker coloring. Their ears are proportionately smaller when compared to their body size than their mice cousins. They have sharp, narrow snouts, large hind feet, and large, prominent eyes. Rats are omnivores and will eat anything they find, including meat. They require regular amounts of drinking water than mice do. Depending on the species, rats also nest in different areas than mice. Norway rats will often dig under buildings, along fences, and hide under debris and landscaping. Roof rats will typically nest in higher locations (e.g. roofs, attics, and rafters). Rats produce larger feces (about 2 cm in size). Rats are more cautious than mice and can be more difficult to trap. They are also strong swimmers.
Both rats and mice are dangerous to humans. Risks of a rodent infestation of any kind include gnawing through surfaces, insulation, and wires; contaminating surfaces with urine and droppings; and carrying and transmitting harmful pathogens like salmonellosis, plague, and trichinosis.
The best treatment against a rodent infestation is to prevent them in the first place. Here are some of our top rodent prevention tips you can utilize in your home.
- Clean up spilled food immediately.
- Put away all food at night, including pet food and bird feeders.
- Keep food, including pet food and bird seed, in sealed, airtight containers.
- Keep garbage can lids tightly sealed.
- Declutter your attic and basement, especially anything made of cardboard.
- Store any items you can on shelves rather than in the floor.
- Keep your yard clear of debris.
- Keep grass and shrubs cut short.
- Trim shrubs and trees away from the sides of your home.
- Store firewood off the ground and a safe distance from your home.
- Repair holes in your foundation, garage, and interior walls and any gaps in your roof.
- Seal any openings larger than 1/4″.
- Use rubber seals under garage doors.
- Use door sweeps on exterior doors.
- Use weatherstripping around windows and doors.
- Use screens that are in good repair on doors and windows.
- Seal around pipes, drains, and vents.
- Use chimney caps.
If you suspect a problem with rodents or any other pest, contact your local pest control company who can help identify which rodent you are dealing with and set you up with the most appropriate rodent control plan for your situation.
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A common myth is that rodents like rats, mice, and even squirrels hibernate in the winter. Unfortunately for us, this is not true. While their activity may slow down while outside in the colder months, rodents are actually active year-round. Rodents can survive a wide range of places and climates. They are also known to carry diseases that can easily be spread to humans. Rodent-borne diseases like hantavirus and salmonella can be serious when contracted by people.
Rodents have developed several survival mechanisms to get through the winter.
Increasing Food Intake
In late summer and fall, rodents will start gathering as much food as possible to store in their burrows and nests for the winter. While they don’t hibernate, they will stockpile resources to help limit the number of times they have to venture out in the cold in search of food. They also have to increase the amount of food they eat to help retain their body temperature.
Rodents need a warm place to spend the winter. Like other overwintering pests, they will try and access your home to seek shelter from the cold. Rats, in particular, are capable of chewing through cinder blocks, lead, glass, aluminum, vinyl, brick, and even concrete in order to access your home. If they can’t get indoors, they are also great at digging tunnels and will burrow for shelter, usually under walls or near utility lines that come into your home.
Taking Advantage of Opportunities
Rodents are extremely creative when it comes to survival. They can adapt to most any situation. Our homes provide the ideal opportunity for rodents to overwinter by providing convenient cavities in walls, attics, crawlspaces, and between floors that protect them from the elements. These hiding spots are usually filled with insulation, as well, which gives them the perfect nesting material. Add in the heat we turn on in the winter and the food crumbs and other food sources we provide and they have an ideal living situation during the winter.
To keep these pests out this winter, try these rodent prevention tips:
- Empty garbage regularly and put it in cans with tightly fitting lids.
- Keep your house clean and decluttered.
- Avoid using open compost piles.
- Store food in sealed containers.
- Only leave enough pet food out for one sitting.
- Keep pets, especially cats, around the house.
If you have a problem with rodents, contact your local pest control company who can help identify the type of rodent you are dealing with and set you up with the appropriate rodent control program.
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Rodents can wreak havoc on your home, chewing through wires and insulation and contaminating surfaces with their urine and feces. Rodents are also known for carrying and transmitting serious diseases to humans. You may not see a live rodent in your home until an infestation is already established. It is important to know the signs of a rodent infestation so you can identify the problem before it gets out of control. Here are 9 warning signs of a rodent infestation to look for in your home.
- Rodent droppings around food packages, in drawers and cupboards, and under sinks.
- Nesting material such as shredded paper, fabric, string, and dried plant matter.
- Signs of chewing on food packaging.
- Holes that have been chewed through floors and walls that these critters can use as an entry point.
- Stale smells coming from hidden areas of your home such as wall voids, attics, crawlspaces, etc.
- Rub marks, which are oily marks left behind where rodents travel along walls.
- A strong, musky urine odor.
- Scampering, scratching, or gnawing sounds, especially at night.
- Unusual pet behavior such as becoming extremely alert or anxious, excessive barking, or pawing at surfaces under appliances or furniture.
Prevention is critical to keeping rodents and other pests from taking over your home. Keep them out of your home with these rodent prevention tips:
- Seal any holes inside or outside your home with steel wool, lath screen, lath metal, cement, hardware cloth, or metal sheeting. Some common areas to check for holes include in the roof among rafters, gables, and eaves; around windows and doors; around foundations; in attic and crawlspace vents; under doors; around holes for electrical, plumbing, cable, and gas lines; inside and under cabinets; inside closets near floor corners; around fireplaces; around pipes under sinks and washers; around hot water heater and furnace pipes; around floor and dryer vents; in basement and laundry room floor drains; and between floor and wall junctures.
- Remove potential nesting sites such as leaf piles and deep mulch.
- Keep garbage in containers with tight-fitting lids.
- Turn compost piles to cover any newly added food.
- Bring pet food and water bowls in overnight and empty birdfeeders daily. Try to avoid feeding outdoor birds, if possible, while you have an active infestation.
- Fix gaps in trailer skirting and use flashing around the base of your home.
- Store food in thick plastic or metal containers with tight-fitting lids.
- Keep outdoor cooking areas and grills clean.
- Elevate woodpiles, hay, and garbage cans at least 1 foot off the ground.
- Get rid of any old tires, vehicles, etc from your property.
- Keep your grass mowed short and shrubbery well trimmed, especially if it is within 100 feet of your home.
If you suspect you have a problem with rodents or any other pest, your local pest control company can perform a thorough home inspection which will help determine the type of rodent you are dealing with, their patterns of activity, what’s attracting them to your home, and which treatment method is best for elimination and ongoing prevention.
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During the colder months, rats are looking indoors for shelter, providing them with warmth and a food source. Once inside, they can not only cause considerable damage to homes by gnawing electrical wires, but they can also pose health risks as they are known to carry bacteria, such as salmonella. To help avoid these pests, every homeowner should utilize preventative measures throughout their house for rodent control.
Keeping the exterior of your home well-sealed is the first step to prevent rats from the inside. Check around the outside of your home for any gaps or holes that are leading inside. Make sure to seal around any openings in the walls, especially utility pipes and vents. Consider installing weather stripping for the gaps in doors and windows.
While outside, look throughout your yard for debris such as piles of leaves or excess woodpiles. Rats will often use these to hide or take cover. Consider keeping your woodpiles 20 feet from your home. Try to keep your shrubbery away from the sides of your home and mow the grass frequently.
Rats are always in search of a food source. Eliminating access to food from your property is another great way to keep them from infesting. If you leave your pet bowls outside, consider bringing them inside to avoid attracting them. Make sure to keep all food, including pet and bird food, in airtight containers. Likewise, make sure your trash cans are sealed tightly and take the garbage out frequently.
Suspecting that you have a rat inside your house is always alarming. It’s best to contact a pest control professional who can inspect your home, identify the type of rat, and set you up with a comprehensive treatment plan.