How Rodents Thrive Through The Pittsburgh Winters

Comedian, Lily Tomlin once said that the problem with the rat race is that even if you win, you’re still a rat.

Of course, he was talking about human claws to reach the top of the ladder of success in business and not the rodents that invade our nightmares and carry serious diseases.

Still, the not-so-scary truth is that for every rat you see, there’s one hiding somewhere nearby, and statistics indicate that there’s a rat for every person living in the United States. (Truly the gift that keeps on giving!)

Derived from the Latin verb, rodere, meaning to gnaw, rats and mice have similar behavioral characteristics.

They are comfortable in continuous contact with vertical surfaces, which is why they move along walls and between objects.

They have poor eyesight, but very fine senses of taste and smell. Both have a keen sense of touch, aided by sensitive bristles and guard hair on their bodies.

Pest-control and pest-management companies deal with rodents in their entirety at this time of year when the cold breath of winter is just around the corner.

This is because rats seek shelter from the elements and have been invading warm homes for centuries along with rats and destroying human food sources. Structures, houses, warehouses, barns and office buildings are dry, warm and perfect shelter.

As the weather cools, food sources become scarcer in the wild, and rodents begin to seek additional food and storage sources because they cannot hibernate and fatten up during the cooler months of the year.

How mice survive the winter

Mice get through the winter by burrowing under floorboards, chewing through electrical wiring, climbing up drain spouts and burrowing under doors.

Mice can and will eat anything that comes their way, and they maintain their food reserves over the winter, often incorporating them into their nests. Burrows help keep mice warm in freezing temperatures.

They are usually dug under or against a rock, wall or fence. Mice don’t spend all their time inside their burrows or humans would never see them.

They prefer indoor shelters where they can feed on insulation, utility lines, and drywall, among other things. Nesting sites are more important than the materials they consist of.

Winter nests must be freed by both humans and other predators if they are to serve as survival aids during the colder months of the year.

Rats are intelligent, creative and truly opportunistic when it comes to finding ways to survive the ravages of winter.

Some relevant statistics

The numbers are alarming. A female mouse becomes pregnant about five to ten times a year and can give birth to litters with numbers of 3 to 14 cubs.

This adds up to an average of at least 32 to 56 pups per year from one rat. Female rats typically have six litters per year with 12 pups, although the average is 5 to 10.

They reach sexual maturity at around 5 weeks of age, which means a rat population can grow to around 1,250 pups per year!

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), rodents are responsible for 20 to 25% of all fires of unknown cause.

A recent survey conducted by the NFPA concluded that 29 million Americans have experienced rodent problems in their homes and that rodents invade approximately 21 million private residences annually.

Twenty-four percent occur in attics and garages; 50% in the kitchen; 27% in the basement; 22% bedroom; 25% living room and 9% elsewhere. Forty-five percent of all rodent infestations occur during the fall and winter months of the year.

6 Simple Rat Prevention Tips

Our pest-control and pest-management experts at Pestco recommend the following proactive tips to prevent rodents from entering your suspected home.

Check them out and fix what you can!

Cracks and holes on the outside of the seal

Since mice and rats are quite adept at squeezing through very small cracks, it’s best to close any you can find with an opening larger than 1/4 inch.

While you’re at it, check window screens, repair any tears, and seal any cracks in walls or foundations with wire mesh.

If you own a house with a chimney, add a cap to it because mice and rats know how to get up

Trim branches and shrubs away from the house

Plants, shrubs and trees can act as natural bridges for rodents to enter your home or attic through the roof.

Improve Firewood

It is recommended to store firewood at least 20 feet away from the house, as it serves as a haven for mice and rats. Raise the logs at least 18 inches off the ground.

Store all food items in sealed containers

Make sure all food (including pet food) is stored in plastic containers and monitor exposed surfaces for food residue and crumbs. Don’t ignore the not-so-obvious spots like: under fridges and other appliances.

Install a brush strip

This will close the small gap at the base of the exterior door. Use glue instead of screws for easy installation. This is an economical option as it helps keep the heat inside the house.

Store the box off the floor

This will eliminate an otherwise perfect hiding place.

Call Pestco for Pittsburgh Rodent Control!

Family-owned and operated, we’ve been a part of the Pittsburgh landscape since the late 1940s, and our mission has remained unchanged for the past nearly eighty years —

It is to provide experienced, responsive and uncompromising pest control and pest-management services to all our loyal customers.

While the focus of rodent control is always prevention, if an infestation exists, our treatment plan involves a balance between baiting and trapping and environmental techniques.

If you are a Pittsburgh homeowner and fear mice or rats have somehow gotten a foothold Inside your home or on your property, call our team and rest assured that we will always find an effective solution!

Photo credit: Pixabay

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