A Guide to New York Rodents◀ Back To Blog
February 28, 2022
How long do rodents live? What kinds of problems can they cause for households? What do they eat? How do they get into homes? And how can you get rid of them? Have no fear: our Guide to New York Rodents is here to provide answers to those very questions and many more.
Types of Rodents in New York
While there are many types of rodents in New York State, the most common infestors can be boiled down to a dirty ⅓ dozen:
- Deer Mice
This common mouse is relatively easy to identify: they are a brown color and approximately 5-8 inches in length. While they are commonly found in more rural areas and tend to avoid occupied residential areas, that doesn’t mean that they aren’t a problem. Less trafficked areas like a shed or pool house can be a prime target for deer mice – not to mention quieter parts of the home like basements, attics, and crawl spaces, especially in the cold winter months.
Once they’re in they can very quickly become problematic, spreading urine and mouse poop around, gnawing on wiring (a fire hazard), and possibly even spreading diseases like Salmonella and Hantavirus.
- House Mice
House mice are a bit more difficult to spot than deer mice, and are much more likely to try and get into a home – in other words, they live up to their name. At only 2 1/2 - 3 3/4" long they can easily squeeze through even the smallest of holes, and like deer mice they carry disease, leave behind waste, and can cause damage to homes through gnawing and scratching.
- Roof Rats
Named for their excellent climbing skills that allow them to easily access the roofs of buildings, roof rats are dark brown or black in color with a lighter underbelly. They have long, thin bodies and can grow to between six to eight inches in length, with a long, scaly tail that can double their total length.
- Norway Rats
With their heavy, dense bodies Norway rats aren’t agile climbers like Roof Rats are. Instead, they’ll enter buildings at ground level and can also burrow beneath structures (causing further damage) to get in. They are brown or gray in color and have a shaggier appearance. They can grow up nine and half inches long (holy moly!), with another six to eight including the tail.
What Do Mice and Rats Eat?
There are a few things that will make a home attractive to mice and rats, and one of them is food. In the wild, rodents like mice and rats are mostly drawn to things like grains, fruits and seeds – in other words, they are attracted to carbs. In more domestic settings, mice and rats will seek out these types of foods, but they become much more indiscriminate; in other words, rodents inside a home approach food as an anything-goes situation. Considering they will gnaw at non-food objects like wiring, don’t think for a second that there is a particular food that mice and rats are not willing to get their lusty paws on.
And what about the mice and cheese stereotype? Sure, they’ll eat it, but according to Pestworld, they’d sooner go for foods like cookies, crackers, candy, grains, and even peanut butter. Read ‘em and weep, Tom & Jerry.
How Long Do Rodents Live?
If you are having rodent trouble, how long can you expect it to persist? While rodent life spans differ based on type of rodent and the circumstances that the rodent is living under, in a home setting with warmth and food access mice can live around 2 years and rats can live over 2 years.
Considering that mice can get pregnant 5-10 times a year and have an average of 6-8 mouse babies per litter and rats can get pregnant up to 7 times a year with 5-12 rat babies a litter, let’s do the math:
- One year of a mouse infestation = up to 80 baby mice per female mouse
- One year of a rat infestation = up to 84 baby rats per female mouse
Another horrifying fact to consider is that rodents in confined spaces will often live in groups, which means that if just one group of mice/rats with a few females in it moves into your house, you could be looking at literally hundreds of mice/rodents crawling around your home just a few months after the initial infestation. Yikes.
What Makes Rodents Dangerous
Mice and rats, as we touched on above, are truly dangerous in 2 important ways:
- They can threaten the safety of your home by damaging the actual property.
- They can carry and spread diseases.
Mice can transmit diseases through their urine, feces, and saliva. They can also carry bacteria that can cause food poisoning, and can introduce parasites like fleas, mites, and ticks to your house. New York rodents have even been recorded to carry the following disease-causing bacteria:
- E. coli
- Clostridium difficile
This bacteria can be spread by contact with rat saliva, urine or feces.Rats can even spread viral diseases including rat-bite fever and hemorrhagic fevers caused by Seoul hantavirus.
On top of ALL of that nastiness, rodents can also use their sharp teeth to chew through flooring, carpet, electric wire, piping, and other building materials, causing damage and sometimes even creating fire hazards.
What Attracts Mice and Rats
Rats and mice are primarily looking for 2 things when they retreat from the wilderness into human homes: food and shelter. Keeping a clean home can reduce your chances of attracting rodents, but even that is no guarantee that a mouse or rat won’t weasel its way into your home somehow. Common entry points for rodents include (but are not limited to):
- Cracks in the foundation.
- Uncovered chimneys.
- Gaps around window frames.
- Broken screens on windows or doors.
- Gaps around ground-level doors.
- Flimsy aluminum soffits.
- Plastic vent covers or dryer vents.
- Holes found in roof eaves and rooflines.
- Openings around plumbing, cables, and gas lines.
Mice and rats are especially likely to try to get into your home between October and February (colder temperatures and all that jazz) so it’s important to do whatever you can to seal up potential entry points before the start of cold weather…or suffer the consequences.
Signs of Rodents
So now we know a bunch of the regular behaviors of rodents and the terrors that can inflict on our health, homes, and hearts. But what are the actual signs that you might have a real rodent issue? A few common signs according to the EPA are:
- Rodent droppings around food packages, in drawers or cupboards, and under the sink.
- Nesting material such as shredded paper, fabric, or dried plant matter.
- Signs of chewing on food packaging.
- Holes chewed through walls and floors that create entry points into the home.
- Stale smells coming from hidden areas.
If you identify one or more of these signs, don’t hesitate to contact Thomas Pest Services; remember that just a few rodents can soon become a hundred. Don’t wait!
And what about prevention? There are a few things that you can do to increase the chances that your home stays rodent-free:
- Routine inspections of your property and seal up any holes, gaps, or cracks as they develop, fix any leaky outdoor pipes, and review any concerns with your pest control technician.
- Be mindful of placing trash outside your house. Ideally, you should wait to take out your trash until your trash-pickup day or use containers with locking lids.
- Compost piles and gardens should be a distance away from your house and not right up against it for rats to explore.
Even if rodents can’t get into your house, that doesn’t mean your yard- or even your automobile- is totally safe. That’s right, rats can build nests, store food, and even have babies in your engine. So basically if you’re using a car that’s been sitting around for awhile, it might be wise to sneak a peek under the hood and make sure a mouse or rat hasn’t been hanging out inside messing with things.
Let’s move to the yard, where mice and rats are attracted to unkempt and overgrown areas and places they can hide like untrimmed bushes, leaf piles, or items in your yard like equipment, kid’s play areas, etc. They can damage these sorts of areas and structures on your property, and can also mess up fruit trees, gardens, and barns.
Getting Rid of Rodents
So let’s say you have rodents: now what? Take a deep breath, and then contact Thomas Pest Services. We’ll create a customized treatment plan based on your unique rodent situation, install any necessary equipment to take care of the issue, clean up whatever mess the rodents have made, and seal up any entry points that we discover to make sure that rodents won’t come back. Sounds good? Great! Just get in touch with us and we’ll turn your rodent issue into a thing of the past as soon as we possibly can.