When you start to see signs of rodents around your home, or you actually see a rat or mouse, it is unsettling. You know those animals create trouble. They use their strong teeth to chew holes in building materials, they get into your home and spread bacteria and ticks, and they hide in your attic and damage stored items. Worst of all, they leave their droppings everywhere they explore. They're gross. Today, we're going to look at a common question we get about rodents and discuss its implications for Orange County residents. Then, we'll offer up some helpful preventative tips to deal with rats and mice. We've packed a lot of information into this article so you're sure to find some useful tips to help you with rodents in Orange County. If you are not inclined to deal with rodent problems yourself, remember that help is just a few clicks away. HomeShield Pest Control offers effective rodent management and general pest control in Orange County. We can do the hard work of rodent control for you. Best of all, you can trust our highly trained technicians to get the results you want. There are few things as frustrating as paying a lot of money, doing a lot of work, and still finding signs of house mice or house rats in your home. With that said, let's look at the common questions we get about common rodents in our area.   

Do Rodents Travel In Air Vents?

Yes. They can. But they don't always. There are many common routes rodents use to get into Orange County homes. Most often, they run along pipes. That is a preferred route. Vents are often more difficult to get into. But rodents are more than able to get into them in most cases. When they get into your vents, they can use them to access areas of your home if they're able to do so. They'll also leave their waste and hair in your vents, which can cause pathogens to become airborne. This can make you sick.

Okay. How do rats and mice get into your vents? There is something you may not know about rodents. They can scale most Orange County exteriors like Spiderman. They use their claws to cling to brick, mortar, wood, and other building materials. There are videos on the internet that may startle you. There are few locations a determined mouse can't get to on the exterior of your home. If you have an unprotected vent, they may access it. If you have a covered vent, they may chew a hole to get past it.

Once inside your vents, a rat or a mouse may not go farther. Most vents are made of tin, which isn't an easy material for a mouse or rat to chew through. They have to find a gap, hole, or point inside your ventilation system where tin turns to rubber or plastic, such as the hose on your dryer. A rodent doesn't need a large hole. Mice are tiny rodents that are able to fit through a hole the size of a dime. Rats are larger rodents but can surprisingly squeeze through a hole the size of a quarter. You shouldn't underestimate their ability to go from ductwork to wall voids.

mouse coming inside

How To Block Mice And Rats From Living In The Walls

Since rodents can go from your vents to your wall voids, maintaining exterior protection for your ventilation system is essential. Make sure all of your vents have covers. Trim tree branches away from your exterior. Put guards on any pipes that a rat or mouse could use to scale your walls. Seal voids underneath structures by applying hardware cloth, particularly voids where dryer vents dump warm air.

Along with protecting your vents, we recommend applying exclusion work. It isn't easy to seal holes and gaps in your exterior, but it is worth the effort. The holes domestic rodents use to get into your home are the same holes other pests use.

  • Inspect exterior doors for gaps. If you notice gaps, align your doors, replace weatherstripping, and install door sweeps to seal them.
  • Inspect your exterior door and window screens. If you see holes, patch them or replace the screens.
  • Use cans of expanding foam to fill in gaps around pipes and voids behind joists.
  • Inspect your sole plates. If rodents are chewing on the wood, use metal flashing to stop them from making a hole large enough to crawl in through.
  • If your home has louvers or gable vents, protect these with hardware cloth.
  • Inspect your garage door seal and make sure rodents aren't able to slip under.
  • Use mortar to patch cracks and holes in your foundation slab or wall.
  • Put wire mesh in your downspouts to prevent rodents from working their way up through your gutter system to access vulnerabilities on your roof. Make sure the wire mesh is snug, so rats and mice can't pull it out. 
  • When deep cleaning your home, patch any holes you find. Doing so will deter rodents.
  • Seal the gaps around pipes that come in underneath your kitchen and bathroom sinks.

Along with these exclusions, consider attractants that bring rats and mice close to your exterior. Remove stacked wood, leaves, yard clutter, and other things rodents use as hiding places. It is also important to thin your landscaping and trim plants near the bottom to prevent rats and mice from easily hiding in landscape vegetation. These animals don't prefer open spaces where predators can see them and attack. 

What Are Non-Toxic Ways To Get Rid Of Rodents?

Often, Orange County residents turn to spring traps and other rodent trapping devices to collect and remove rodents. There is an unfortunate drawback to using these. Rodents are clever. They are gifted with many behavior patterns and abilities that help them avoid traps. When traps fail, residents turn to more drastic measures. But these have the potential to harm you and your family. So, how can you get rid of rodents in a way that won't expose you to harmful materials? The solution is surprisingly simple.

Rodents are motivated by food. A little mouse will eat 15 to 20 times a day! If you make it hard for a mouse to find food in your home, you'll cause it to become torpid. Torpidity looks a lot like hibernation. In a state of torpidity, a mouse or rat will conserve energy and require less food. Unfortunately, they can't keep doing this forever. At some point, the rodents in your home will say, "Forget this! We're outta here!" Okay. Maybe they won't say it, but that's how they'll feel. How do you hide food from rats and mice? Here are some suggestions.

  • Deep clean your kitchen. Rodents get into tight spaces and come out of your wall voids behind your kitchen cabinets. When you clean the sides of your oven, wipe the floor under your refrigerator, and get every nook and cranny of your cabinetry, they won't find food debris, grease, and oil to feed on.
  • Clean your shelves. The food particles on shelves is more than enough food for a tiny mouse. Wiping down shelves is an effective deterrent.
  • Store food in sealed containers. It may seem like a real pain to put your food in containers, but doing so is highly beneficial. It seals smells inside, so rodents can't detect the food. It makes your food harder to access. And, while you're keeping rodents out, you're able to easily examine your foods for pantry pests, which come into your home already inside the products you buy at the grocery store.
  • Manage your trash to reduce smells and prevent access. A scented garbage bag and a receptacle with a cover go a long way toward preventing pest problems.
  • Put pet food down only during the day, or only at meal times. Rodents are active at night.
  • Consider only eating in your kitchen or dining room to prevent food debris in your living room and other parts of your home.
  • Check wastepaper baskets for food items your kids may leave behind.

When you control the food in your home, rodents may decide to leave. The exception to this is when rats or mice are feeding on food sources in your yard and only using your home as a location in which to nest.

Rodent Control The Easy Way In Orange County

If you don't want to have to think about cleaning your home and managing food resources, there is another easy way to control rodents. Year-round pest control from HomeShield Pest Control comes with rodent management. We deploy traps and other products to monitor rodent activity, cull rodent populations, and seal rodents out of your home. You don't have to think about rodents at all. Drop us a line or give us a call to learn more about how we do rodent control in Orange County or to schedule a service visit. We look forward to meeting you.