Are you ready for it? Here is your rodent rundown, the ultimate guide to guarding your property against rodents and keeping rodents out. We'll look at common rodent species in Orange County and the differences you should know. We'll share some of the ways rodents present a danger to health and property. We'll discuss how rodents infest your home and the safest way to remove these pests. If you stick with us all the way to the end, we'll give you some smart and effective rodent prevention tips that can prevent future infestations after dealing with a rodent control issue. These tips will also help prevent you from having a rodent infestation in the first place. If you need quick answers to rodent questions or immediate service for rodents in Orange County, contact us at any time. Your HomeShield Pest Control service team provides the highest level of pest control in Orange County, and we are here to provide advice and service options. 

Common Rodent Species: Identifying Different Types Of Rodents

There are basically three kinds of rodents in Orange County. There are rodents that create problems in your lawn and landscaping but never enter your home; rodents that accidentally enter your home but don't stay long; and rodents that can take up permanent residence in your home. We'll focus on that last group today. In this group are field mice, roof rats, and Norway rats. 

What do you need to know most about home-invading rodents that stay permanently? Wild rodents don't act like pet rodents. Pet rodents, rats and mice, make pretty good pets; they groom themselves quite a bit and they are generally harmless to humans. But wild rodents aren't the same as pet rodents. Do they groom themselves? Sure. But they also get into very dirty places, like dumpsters, trash cans, and sewers. Are they harmless to humans? Not always. Rats can get aggressive. It depends on the personality of the rat and the circumstances of your encounter. If a rat feels threatened, it may turn and attack, but most of the time, both rats and mice won't harm you directly. We'll discuss some of the indirect ways they may harm you, in a moment. First, let's look at the behavior patterns of rats and mice that relate to rodent prevention.

Mouse Behavior: Mice are tiny rodents with strong teeth. If a mouse creates an opening the width of a dime, it can squeeze into your home. Once inside, a mouse is able to climb up rough surfaces and use your wall voids to go from the ground level to your attic. In your attic, a mouse can create a nest out of building materials, such as insulation, sheetrock paper, and wallpaper. After mice have made a nest, they're going to search for food inside your home, which will lead them to your kitchen and pantry. They can chew through paper, cardboard, and the thin plastic that protects your bread to find a meal.

How do you identify mice? If you see a mouse, you can identify it by its small body, long tail, pointed nose, and prominent ears. If you only see the droppings, you can inspect them to tell whether you have rats or mice. Mouse droppings are smaller than grains of rice.

Rat Behavior: Rats are big rodents with strong teeth. An adult rat can squeeze through a gap the width of a quarter. If it finds a smaller opening, it can make it large enough for entry, even if the material is concrete. Rats can scrape and claw their way through surprising entry points. Once inside, they'll do all the things mice can do. The major difference is that they'll target robust food sources, such as dry dog food, meats, and nuts. There are a few differences between roof rats and Norway rats. Roof rats climb trees and often enter homes the same way squirrels do. Norway rats are burrowing rodents that tend to get into homes through gaps around pipes and other ground-level entry points.

How do you identify rats? A rat has a tail that is thicker than a mouse's tail and a rat has a rounded snout. You can also tell rats from mice by their size. They are nearly twice the size of mice. If you don't see a rat, look for their droppings. The droppings of a rat are slightly larger than grains of rice.

These are the pests you're up against. When they get into your home, they can explore every inch. As they do, they may present a threat to your health and property in ways that might surprise you. Let's quickly look at the dangers.

baby rat outside

Rodent Dangers: Health Risks And Property Damage

While rats and mice are rarely a direct danger, there are many ways they impact humans indirectly. These animals may make great pets, but it isn't good to have wild rodents in your home. All rodents have a propensity to do things you'll definitely not want them doing in your home.

  • Droppings everywhere. You can't expect a wild rodent to go outside to take care of business. You also don't have the option of creating a sleeping area for them that allows you to collect their droppings on a newspaper beneath a wire mesh floor. They come in contact with their fecal matter and urine, and no amount of grooming will make them sanitary animals. Droppings are also a source of contamination when left on insulation, floors, and other surfaces. 
  • So many holes. Rodents make holes in all sorts of things. They chew holes to get into your home. They make access holes to enter your kitchen and pantry from wall voids. They make holes in your food packaging. Rodents can't help but make holes. They're wired to do this from birth.
  • Gnawing. Rodents have incisors that never stop growing throughout their entire lives. If these teeth aren't filed down, they can harm the rodents. So rats and mice are driven to gnaw on everything. When crawling around in walls, they sometimes gnaw through wires. We don't need to tell you how bad that is. 
  • Not so picky eating habits. Rats and mice feed on what is available. In their pursuit of a bit to eat, they often feed on decaying organic material and also fecal matter. When they climb into a dumpster to get to a meal, they pick up tiny organisms. While some of the organisms are removed during grooming, these animals are rarely clean enough to roam your pantry harmlessly.
  • Ticks and fleas. Rodents pick these parasites up as they explore tall grass, damp hiding places, vegetation, and forested areas. If they acquire infected ticks or fleas, these pests can present a risk to you and your dog or cat when they enter your home.

Wild animals present risks inside your home. They aren't harmless woodland critters, and they definitely aren't pets. When you detect rodent activity inside your home, it is important to contact a licensed pest management professional for rodent control. Let's take a look at why this is the case. 

Professional Rodent Control: The Safe Way To Remove An Infestation

When you get professional rodent control, it is the safest option for you and the rodents. Safe for rodents? Yes, indeed. Improper rodent control can cause unnecessary harm to rats and mice. For example, if caught in a trap by one limb, a rodent may chew that limb off to escape the trap, leaving it permanently wounded and in misery. Professionals use products that do not cause unnecessary harm; the rats and mice don't know what hit them. But, most of all, we use methods that are safe for humans. There are far too many stories of residents using harmful materials to get rid of rats and mice only to expose their dog, cat, or children to the materials. Professionals use tamper-resistant devices and apply high safety standards when applying materials within your home.

If you're dealing with a rat or mouse problem, contact your local pest control service provider for trusted, science-based solutions. If you're in Orange County, contact HomeShield Pest Control for the best rodent control near you. We use advanced technologies and field-tested strategies to deal with rodents quickly and safely. 

Rodent Prevention Tips: How to Keep Your Property Rodent-Free

Once the rodents are gone (or long before you have a rodent control problem) it is time to think about prevention. Rodent prevention is hard work, but it is simple to understand. Here's what you'll need to do.

  • Remove ground clutter in your yard.
  • Trim your landscape vegetation near the bases of your plants.
  • Remove objects near your home.
  • Move bird feeders far from your outside walls.
  • Rake nuts up in your yard and remove them or store them in a bin.
  • Keep trash in covered containers and wash the containers periodically.
  • Seal gaps in your exterior with expanding foam or caulk.
  • Replace damaged weatherstripping or worn-out sweeps.
  • Use mortar to patch foundation cracks.
  • Repair screens.
  • Trim branches away from your home.
  • Use guards to keep rodents from using power lines or pipes on the sides of your home to gain access to your roof.
  • Protect your gutter downspouts so rodents can't climb inside.

These simple prevention tips can provide a high level of protection and prevent rodent infestations under normal conditions. If you have higher-than-normal rodent pressures, more control is likely required. For assistance, contact HomeShield Pest Control for assistance in Orange County.