FACT. Rats are one of the most common pest issues homeowners face. Rats are known for being destructive by gnawing on structures in and around your home including utility pipes, wood structures, and wiring. In addition to the structural damage rats can cause, it is also possible for rats to pose serious health risks to humans. Diseases caused by rats can be transmitted through bites or scratches. Rat feces illness can be transmitted to humans through rat droppings and urine left around your home. Humans can also get sick through contaminated food caused by rats running across countertops where food is later prepared.
Just how sick can rats make you? Here are some common rat-borne diseases found in the United States.
Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome
Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome is a viral illness spread by deer mice, cotton rats, rice rats, and white-footed mice. HPS is spread by direct contact with rodents or their urine and feces, by breathing in dust contaminated with urine or droppings, or by bite wounds. Symptoms in the first phase of the virus include fatigue, fever, muscle aches, headache, dizziness, chills, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. The symptoms then progress to coughing and shortness of breath. HPS is a severe and sometimes fatal respiratory disease with a 38% mortality rate. There is no specific treatment, cure, or vaccine for hantavirus infection.
Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease spread by rodents worldwide by either eating or drinking food and water contaminated with urine or contact through the skin or mucous membranes with water or soil that is contaminated with urine. Without treatment, leptospirosis can lead to kidney damage, meningitis (inflammation of the membrane around the brain and spinal cord), liver failure, respiratory distress, and even death. Common symptoms include fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, abdominal pain, vomiting, jaundice, diarrhea, and rash. The symptoms are often mistaken for other illnesses. If not treated, the second phase of symptoms includes kidney or liver failure or meningitis. The disease lasts between 1 and 3 weeks. Leptospirosis is treated with antibiotics.
Rat-bite fever is a bacterial illness spread by rats and possibly mice. The disease occurs worldwide and is spread through bites or scratches from an infected rodent, contact with a dead rodent, or eating or drinking food and water that is contaminated by rat feces. If not treated, RBF can be a serious or even fatal disease. RBF is not spread from one person to another. The early symptoms of RBF can be similar to the symptoms of other medical conditions. Common symptoms include fever, headache, muscle pain, headaches, vomiting, joint pain, and rash. If the illness progresses, more severe complication can arise such as abscesses, hepatitis, kidney infections, pneumonia, meningitis, or infections in the heart. RBF is treated with antibiotics.
Salmonellosis is a bacterial disease found worldwide that is spread by rats and mice. Salmonellosis is spread through eating or drinking food and water that is contaminated by rat feces. Salmonellosis is an infection caused by the Salmonella bacteria. Although commonly spread when a person eats contaminated food, the bacteria also can be passed between people and animals. Common symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting, fever, and abdominal cramps. Salmonella infections in people usually resolve within 5-7 days, and most do not require treatment other than drinking plenty of fluids. People with severe diarrhea may need to spend time in a hospital getting rehydrated with intravenous fluids.
Rat-borne diseases can cause serious and sometimes fatal illnesses in humans. The best way to avoid these diseases is to prevent rats from infesting your home in the first place. Here are some common home rat prevention tips:
- Put A Lid On Your Trash: If possible, use trashcans made of metal with snug fitting lids. If you must use plastic, make sure there are no holes in it.
- Don’t Leave Pet Food Out: Store pet food and birdseed in glass or metal containers with tight lids. Make sure to remove them at night and store them away until morning. Make sure to pick up any fallen fruit or nuts off the ground outside your home, as well. Remove standing water from bird feeders.
- Elevate Your Compost: Raise your compost container at least 1 foot off the ground.
- Keep Your Garage Clean: Rodents like to eat lawn seed, tulip bulbs, bone meal, and other items frequently used in gardening. Make sure they are stored in glass or metal containers with tight lids. Keep firewood a good distance from the house. Organize and store boxes in the garage off the ground to eliminate nesting places.
- Clean The Kitchen: Keep food stored in tightly sealed containers. Clean up spilled food and crumbs nightly.
- Keep Your Home Maintained: Make sure openings around your home are properly sealed. Keep your gutters clear of debris and water. Screen your attic vents. Keep screens on windows and doors in good repair and replace when needed.
- Call A Pro: If you suspect you have a rodent problem, call a professional pest control company or a professional wildlife removal company who can evaluate your home and provide you with a comprehensive treatment and exclusion plan.
Request a Free Wildlife Control Estimate
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Most people may not consider birds when they think of pest control; bird removal does, however, fall into the category of wildlife exclusion. While typically benign to homeowners, birds can be detrimental to both homes and health. Birds can be quite noisy, especially if they build a nest in or on your home. They can cause damage to your roof, car, and property. Their nests can block stove, dryer, and fan vents causing fire hazards and rendering them useless. Their nests can also clog gutters and drains, leading to standing water and potential damage to your roof. Their droppings contain uric acid which can damage the paint on your car. Bird droppings also contain pathogens that are dangerous to humans like histoplasmosis. Bird nests can also contain other pests such as mites, parasites, and ticks that can stick around long after the birds have left the nest.
Birds have been known to build their nests in some very inconvenient places in and around homes. They are often found above doors, over garages, inside sheds, and other high-traffic areas. They can also nest in places that are dangerous to the birds themselves – on top of lawnmowers, heat pumps, etc.
While the decision to remove the bird nest may seem simple, there are Federal laws regarding bird nest removal that make it illegal to remove certain species of birds or their nests. Best practice is always to check with a wildlife control company before attempting to remove any bird nests from your home. If you have verified that the species of bird invading your property is not protected and removal of the nest is legal and necessary, here are some steps to take to ensure both proper and safe removal and/or relocation.
The best way to eliminate bird nests from your property is to prevent them from building in the first place. Remove any food scraps and open trash from around your home as this invites them to feed. Make sure trash is secured tightly in containers. Place any bird feeders and birdbaths away from the home and further out in the yard. Only put out enough food for a few birds and clean up any spills regularly. Consider installing gutter guards to prevent nesting in gutters and downspouts. Vents are a common nesting place for birds so install vent covers and screens. Use perch repellents if necessary; these are rows of bird spikes installed on ledges, window sills, and around the perimeter of the roof to prevent birds from alighting on perches. You can also use visual repellents such as plastic owls, hawks, snakes, and even coyotes. If you use visual repellents, make sure to move them often as the birds will get used to them being in one place. Hang reflective bird diverters from strings on your porch also.
The best time to remove a nest is when it is still in the building stage. If you notice a bird nest already built or remove one this season, keep an eye out in the same area next season and stop it before it is fully completed.
2. Check for Activity
Always make sure a nest is inactive before removing or relocating it. Never attempt to remove or relocate a nest if there are birds or eggs present. It is best to wait until after nesting season for any removal or relocation. Eggs in a nest without signs of the parents don’t necessarily mean the nest has been abandoned. The parents may be out feeding or they may have left to allow the eggs a chance to cool down.
3. Wait For the End of Nesting Season
The best time to remove or relocate a nest is after nesting season is over. Most birds only nest once per year; however, some species will nest 4 to 5 times. The time varies with the species of bird. Without knowing the specific species of bird, it is difficult to determine the best time to remove or relocate the nest. A professional can help identify the species you are dealing with and help determine the best time to remove the nest.
4. Use Proper Precautions
Once you have positively identified the species of bird you have, confirmed it is legal to remove the nest, and have made sure the nest is inactive and no eggs are present, you can proceed with removing or relocating the nest. Bird nests can harbor other pests and residual bird droppings that can contain dangerous pathogens for humans. Make sure to wear long sleeves, long pants, latex gloves, and a respiratory mask to protect yourself. Carefully inspect the nest to make sure it is empty of eggs and birds. Spray the nest with an antibacterial spray. Once dry, remove the nest and dispose of it in a securely sealed container or exterior trash bag. Dispose of it in the trash away from the home. Clean the area where the nest was with a strong disinfectant. Remove and dispose of your gloves. Remove your clothing and wash them immediately in hot water. Wash your hands thoroughly.
5. Call A Professional
It can be difficult to determine whether or not the bird nest in or on your home is legal to remove or the best way to remove it. If you have a bird nest that is causing problems in or on your property, contact a professional wildlife exclusion company who can positively identify the species of bird you have, properly remove or dispose of the nest, and help you identify areas where nesting could be a potential issue in the future.
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While we most often think of wildlife being a problem in the winter months, these animals don’t just disappear when the weather gets warm. Wildlife can still be quite active in the summer, wreaking havoc on our homes and gardens. Whatever the time of year, preventing and controlling these nuisance pests is of the utmost importance, as they not only cause damage to homes and property, but can also pose significant health risks to both humans and pets. Wildlife prevention (also known as wildlife exclusion) is the first line of control against critters; however, once they have established themselves in or around your home, wildlife removal becomes a more necessary option. Let’s look at some common summer wildlife, as well as ways to exclude them from your home.
Snakes are cold-blooded animals that require heat and sunlight for energy. They are more active in the summer months because they require more energy for mating. Too much exposure can overheat them so snakes are typically more active in the early morning and late evenings or at night in the summertime. They will also seek out shelter during the hottest parts of the day in cool, dark places like underneath rocks and decks or in basements. Snakes will choose where they live based on the availability of food, shelter, and shade.
To prevent snakes this summer:
- Clear away yard clutter, piles of leaves, and wood.
- Keep your grass mowed short to eliminate coverage.
- Trim bushes and hedges regularly.
- Make sure birdseed doesn’t fall on the ground and clean it up if it does.
- Block access to any potential hibernation areas.
- Walk the perimeter of your home and seal, cover, or repair any crack or crevice that is greater than 1/4″.
- Check your garage, garage doors, windows, and exterior doors for gaps and seal them.
- Seal any gaps around water pipes, electrical lines, sump pumps, and other spots that utilities enter your home.
- Ventilate crawlspaces and repair leaky faucets and pipes as these attract pests which, in turn, attract snakes.
While bats are scary to many people, they are actually quite beneficial at keeping insect populations down. In the southern United States, many bat species are active year-round. Bats enter homes through openings. They can cause damage in homes by ruining insulation, causing structural damage when their urine soaks through to sheet rock or particle board, and their urine and feces causing health concerns for occupants of the home. Bats also carry serious diseases such as rabies, with 1 to 3 cases of bat transmitted rabies occurring each year. Bats are nocturnal and emerge at dusk in search of food. Female bats search for summer roosts where they stay until they have their young. For this reason, unless there is a threat to public health, eviction or exclusion of bats should not take place between April and August. Colonies will disband in late summer as bats leave for their winter roosts.
To prevent bats in the summer:
- If you have a bat in your home, locate any openings leading to living spaces in your home from attics, garages, walls, etc and seal them off.
- Close all doors to the room where the bat is and open all windows and exterior doors to allow the bat to escape.
- Inspect and caulk any openings on the exterior of your home that are larger than 1/4″.
- Use window screens, chimney caps, and screen vents.
- Fill any electrical and plumbing holes with steel wool or caulk.
- If you find an entry point, cover it with plastic sheeting or bird netting and then once all the bats are gone, seal it off completely.
- Professional removal is recommended. Professional wildlife pest control will:
- Assess any entry points.
- Install one-way systems to allow bats to exit but not return.
- Seal any entry points.
- Clear, decontaminate, and deodorize the affected area.
Armadillos mate in the fall, with their young born in the spring, making them very active in the summer months. They prefer habitats near streams or other water sources with sandy or clay soil. They are often found in forests, woodlands, prairies, salt marshes, coastal dunes, pastures, cemeteries, parks, golf courses, and crop lands. They love to nest in rock piles, around trees and shrubs, and under rock slabs. Armadillos dig burrows that can be up to 25 feet long, which can significantly damage tree roots. These burrows can also cause flooding if they are dug around crawlspaces, patios, or walkways. Armadillos have poorly developed teeth and limited mobility. they have poor eyesight but a keen sense of smell. They have very few natural predators. They are strong diggers which they rely on to find shelter and food and causing most of the damage around your home and property. Armadillos will eat fruit (especially from gardens and compost piles), grubs, worms, beetles, wasps, ants, millipedes, centipedes, and snails.
To prevent armadillos in the summer:
- Eliminate food sources by getting rid of insects around your home.
- Clean up any rotten fruit that may fall to the ground.
- Maintain proper landscaping by keeping grass mowed and shrubs and trees trimmed.
- Install sturdy fencing that goes at least 1 foot into the ground and at a slight angle.
- Eliminate any areas of excess moisture in your yard as this leads to more grubs and worms.
- Set traps and relocate the armadillos.
Opossum females are laden with their young in the summer months, making them more active in their search for food. Opossums are found throughout the United States. They live in trees and will stay in them as much as possible. They also prefer wet areas like marshes and swamps. Opossums are nocturnal and will forage for food at night. They are beneficial in they eat harmful and unwanted pests around your home. They prefer to eat snails, slugs, spiders, cockroaches, rats, mice and snakes. They will also eat nuts, grass, fruit, roadkill, and garbage. They are rarely aggressive and will play dead when they feel threatened.
To prevent opossums this summer:
- Don’t leave pet food or water out overnight.
- Don’t leave garage doors, pet doors, or unscreened windows open at night.
- Pick up any fruit that has fallen from trees.
- Cover garbage cans at night.
- Clear out any dense bushes, shrubbery, or woodpiles.
- Keep swimming pools and hot tubs covered at night.
- Keep trees and shrubbery trimmed away from fences.
Raccoons are highly intelligent and curious animals. They typically give birth to their young in April and May, making them very active in the summer months. They are found throughout the United States. They prefer to live in heavily wooded areas with access to trees, water, and vegetation. They are extremely adaptable, however, and will make their homes in attics, sewers, barns, and sheds. They are dexterous, capable of opening doors, jars, bottles, and latches. They are known to carry several bacterial diseases. Raccoons are nocturnal animals, searching for food at night. They will eat almost anything including birds, eggs, fish, shellfish, frogs, fruit, insects, nuts, seeds, and even snakes. They are known to destroy gardens, tip over garbage cans, and cause structural damage in their quest for food.
To prevent raccoons this summer:
- Secure trash can lids, especially at night.
- Double bag any trash that contains meat.
- Remove brush and keep shrubbery trimmed.
- Keep grass mowed short.
- Seal any entry points to chimneys, eaves, and attics.
- Install motion detecting sprinklers or strobe lights.
- Remove any fallen fruit from trees.
- Bring bird feeders and pet food in at night.
- Seal pet doors at night.
Rats are active year-round. The summer provides them with ample sources of food making them very active. They are also busy making burrows and storing food in preparation for the winter. Rats can reproduce very quickly so control and elimination can be extremely difficult. They are excellent climbers and are well adapted to living in human environments. Rats can contaminate food, cause fire hazards by chewing through wires, and their urine and feces can cause serious health concerns.
To prevent rats this summer:
- Fill or seal any cracks, crevices, and holes found in foundations or siding.
- Install chimney caps and cover vents with screens.
- Replace any torn screens on windows and doors.
- Remove clutter from garages and storage areas.
- Try to use plastic storage bins versus cardboard boxes.
- Store firewood away from your home.
- Remove bird feeders and pet food at night.
- Keep food and pet food stored in airtight containers.
- Use trash cans with lids.
- Keep your kitchen clean from crumbs and spills.
- Empty the trash regularly.
Prevention is always a good first step at keeping wildlife away. Once you have a wildlife issue, however, prevention usually needs to shift to removal and exclusion. Consider contacting a professional wildlife control company who can assess your wildlife issue and provide you with the safest and most appropriate treatment and prevention options.
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The winter months can bring wildlife indoors as they search for food and shelter from the cold weather, causing property damage by chewing through the wood, insulation, and wiring in your home, and can also carry diseases that threaten the health of you and your family. What critters should you be concerned about? Most wildlife control services include the exclusion, removal, and control of animals such as squirrels, rodents, raccoons, snakes, bees, and birds. Safe removal of the nuisance critter is always the first priority when it comes to wildlife, but what can you do to prevent these animals from getting into your home or property to begin with? Keep reading for tips on wildlife prevention and bird control.
- Install door sweeps on exterior doors.
- Repair or replace any damaged window and door screens.
- Replace loose mortar around foundations and weatherstripping around windows and doors.
- Inspect the exterior of your home including the siding for damage, holes, and leaks and repair them immediately.
- Repair any holes under exterior stairs, porches, balconies, etc. to keep animals from taking up residence underneath them.
- Install chimney caps.
- Cover the openings to exhaust fans, soffits, attic vents, and utility pipes.
- Inspect your roof annually for water damage and loose or damaged shingles.
- Keep your attic, basement, and crawlspace well ventilated and dry.
- Clean eaves and gutters regularly to prevent debris from building up.
- Don’t leave your garage door open for prolonged periods of time or overnight.
- Keep tree limbs cut back at least 6 to 8 feet from your roof line.
- Store your firewood off the ground and at least 20 feet from your home.
- Keep your grills or barbecues clean and grease-free.
- If you have fruit trees make sure you pick or dispose of ripe fruit and clean up any spoiled fruit that may collect at the base of the trees.
- Clean up leaves and brush and don’t leave them in piles around your property.
- Store your birdseed in secure containers and don’t leave birdseed in your feeders overnight.
- Bring in your pet’s food and water dishes at night.
- Store food in airtight containers.
- Dispose of your garbage regularly and use cans that have secure lids.
If you suspect a wildlife problem, contact a professional wildlife control company. A wildlife removal expert will inspect your home to identify the animal nuisance, determine where they are getting in, remove them, and prevent the wildlife from getting into your home in the future. They can also inform you of any existing damage or contamination and provide you with a recommendation for repairs or clean-up.
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Some people think that when the temperatures drop, they will have less pest issues. For some critters this may be true, as they use the autumn to store up for a cold winter, during which they hide away. However, some of the larger animals such as squirrels, raccoons, possums, etc., might want to use your home for a warm space to hide away from the weather. Northwest Exterminating’s Wildlife Team knows just what to do in order to keep your home a pest-free zone!
Depending on what type of animals may be in your area, they can leave you susceptible to various issues. For instance, some squirrels like to make nests in attics, using your insulation as material! The costs of repair plus the hazards of a potential electrical fire due to damaged wires makes it really necessary to block this area off from potential unwanted guests. Aside from squirrels, other creatures have the potential to do damage in the form of bites or fleas that might affect your children or pets.
To reduce these risks against you, Northwest’s Wildlife Team specializes in wildlife exclusion. One of form of wildlife exclusion involves sealing up any potential openings to secure your home. The Wildlife Team will inspect your home, evaluating potential problem areas and implementing measures to eliminate these issues. However, if by chance your home has already gotten unsolicited attention from these pests, the Wildlife Team knows just what to do to take care of your home and prevent the issue from happening in the future. If you need a Wildlife representative, please contact us at 888-466-7849 or visit our website www.callnorthwest.com