As the cold weather drags into heels into March rodents will be searching for warmth and food, and if they are nesting near your property take extra care not to invite them in. If there is a rat infestation in your area, such as the one reported today in the Bexhill-On-Sea Observer it may be time to fortify your home. Young rats can squeeze into hole just an inch wide so take a good look around your property for entrance holes such as broken pipework or beneath doors.
Tell-tale tunnels through bushes in the garden are a sign of rats around the home. Although they may not have gained access to your house, damage and infection can still occur as a result of outdoor infestation. Deter rodent activity from your home by sealing rubbish in containers and don’t overfeed birds or place bird food on the ground which is easily accessible to rodents.
Rodents use defined, regular routes to move around houses. With bad eyesight, they rely on sensitive hairs to feel their way and this continual contact with surfaces causes grease to rub off their fur leaving behind tell-tale ‘smear marks’ which are most often found along skirting boards or at the entrance of holes. Mice also urinate at smear mark points, causing a characteristic musty smell. The typical evidence to look for in your home and garden are:
- Scratching - noises in walls, under the floor or under decking as vermin scurry around looking for food.
- Droppings – they leave dark, tapered (sausage shaped) droppings about 1 – 2cm long.
- Distinctive smell – rodents leave an ammonia-like smell that will be particularly strong in enclosed areas such as under cupboards, in loft spaces, garages, sheds or under decking.
- Damage – they have teeth that grow continuously and gnaw on wood, plastic and even mild steel to keep them trim. Rats can even cause fires by chewing through cables and wiring.
- Ripped food packaging – they will tear open all types of packaging to find food which may leave teeth marks.
- Nests – built in warm, hidden places using shredded material such as newspaper, plastic and fabrics. Nests will often contain young.
- Burrows – in gardens, especially in compost heaps or under sheds. They will also build nests under garden decking.