It’s that time of year when rodents – including rats and mice – start looking in earnest for food and shelter. January is the peak of the winter season in Virginia, with the average low temperatures dropping to 26°F. So, if your home is more hospitable than the weather outside – and it likely is – then rodents will do whatever it takes to overwinter in your basement, attic, and even behind your refrigerator. If it’s a spot where they’ll remain largely undetected, then it’s a great place for them to set up camp.

Because rats, mice, and other rodents are mammals, they need to maintain a warm body temperature to survive. They also need food, and this time of year food is harder to come by. Couple the frigid cold with the lack of food sources, and it’s easy to understand why rodents seek shelter indoors. But not any home, mind you. Like a house burglar, they’ll target the home that looks the most inviting and easiest to enter.

Here’s what rodents tend to look for:

  • Wood piles, leaf piles, shrubs, and/or debris that are nestled against the home’s exterior.
  • Food and water that are easily accessible, especially in trash cans and compost piles.
  • Pet excrement outside the home that is not removed immediately.
  • Pet food inside the home that is not appropriately sealed.
  • A home that is especially messy, with food left on counters and in sinks, and spills that aren’t cleaned up immediately.

6 Ways to Keep Your Home Rodent-Free

Outside Your Home

1. Move Firewood Off the Ground

Rats and mice love to hide in stacks of firewood. So, if you keep a stash of firewood outside your home, elevate your logs at least 18 inches off the ground and store your log pile away from your home.

2. Maintain Landscaping

Tree branches are often used by rats – especially roof rats – to gain easy access to your roof or attic. Trim any branches hanging close to your house and tidy up any overgrown vegetation. In addition, remove weeds and leaf piles to ensure neighborhood rats and mice have fewer places to hide.

Entrances to Your Home

3. Seal Points of Entry

Rats and mice are known to squeeze through very small gaps – even as small as the width of a pencil. So, seal off any place that makes it possible for a rat or mouse to gain entry and close off any opening larger than ¼-inch. If your window screens have tears, patch them. If your exterior walls or foundation have cracks, seal them with wire mesh. Examine spots where pipes enter your home; if there are gaps, fill them with mesh and caulk. Check your dryer vent to make sure it has a screen. Finally, if you have a chimney, add a cap; rodents are excellent climbers.

4. Install a Brush Strip

Block the small gaps at the base of your exterior doors – which are common with older doors – with a brush strip. For easy installation, choose one with an adhesive strip rather than screws. Brush strips are not only a rodent deterrent, but also saves energy by keeping the heat inside your home.

Inside Your Home

5. Store Your Food, as Well as Your Pet’s

Keeping your countertops and other surfaces clear of food and residue will ensure rats and mice don’t consider your home an all-you-can-eat buffet. Check for crumbs under the counters, refrigerator, and other appliances. Make sure all food is stored in sealed containers to prevent easy access. Remember, rats and mice like dog and cat food, so keep these sealed, too.

6. Remove Clutter

Rats and mice prefer basements, attics, and garages, because these are frequently the areas that have clutter. And clutter = convenient hiding spots. Make these areas less tempting by removing the clutter, especially stacks of old newspapers and other junk. Don’t leave laundry on the floor. Piles of boxes clustered together can also be inviting, so remove these, too.

Call Us – We’re Professionals

The first step in keeping rats and mice at bay this winter is by knowing what attracts these rodents to your home in the first place and then taking the steps outlined above. The second step is contacting a company that provides professional rodent control services, such as Eco Pest Control. Our trained staff are expert in rodent control and removal. We can inspect your home for signs of rodent infestation, help you set up a customized prevention plan, and tackle any infestation problem you might have.