What to do if rodents get into your own home this fall

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Fall in Maine can be a lovely time of year. It is when leaf peeping reaches its peak. It’s when colder nights just beg for a cozy blanket and a good book and pumpkin spice, everything is everywhere. Fall can also be a headache for homeowners, however, as rodents also look for places to hang out for the winter.

To a rodent, your house is just as good – if not better – than a hole in the ground.

How bad are these uninvited guests?

Pest experts warn that once rodents gain access to a home, the situation can quickly escalate from a minor annoyance to serious threats to the health of your family or home. In Maine, rodents such as squirrels, mice, chipmunks, and rats can transmit disease in their feces or urine. You can also carry rabies.

If the health issues weren’t bad enough, remember that the word “rodent” comes from the Latin “rodre” which means “to gnaw”. This is exactly what mice, squirrels, rats, and chipmunks will do to pass some time in the winter. Your single pair of incisors on your upper and lower jaw never stop growing, so rodents have to chew to keep them from getting too long. Any chewing on woodwork, cables, insulation, or plastic pipes in your home can cause major damage in a short amount of time.

This is how you prevent and drive away unwanted wildlife

If rodents are moving into your home, the best defense is a good insult. Strict attention to the plumbing and upkeep of your home goes a long way toward ensuring a rodent-free winter in Maine

Experts recommend keeping your home clean and free of trash and food that could become a rodent buffet. It’s also a good idea to do a thorough inspection inside and outside your home to look for any small cracks or crevices that they could enter. Then seal these openings.

Remember that rodents can push their bodies through the smallest of openings. For example, a mouse needs a hole no larger than the diameter of a pencil to get into your home.

But if you hear walls or ceilings sinking from your attic and see feces somewhere inside, the animals have already broken your defenses and settled down. Now is the time to drive them away.

Delivery of the eviction notice

When it comes to getting rodents out of your home, you have two basic options: you can move them live, or you can use a kill trap.

While using a live trap sounds like a friendly, humane thing, wildlife experts warn that at best it can be a short-term solution to your rodent problem, and at worst it can cause long-term suffering for the animal itself.

If you release a trapped rodent outside near your home, it will likely just find its way back inside. Moving it far from your home will solve this problem, but you will bring the animal out of its home range. It doesn’t know where to find food and water, or where to hide from predators. It basically prepares the animal for failure, suffering and eventual starvation.

The more compassionate approach is a metal or plastic “jaw” trap that closes around the rodent’s neck, breaking it, killing the animal instantly. Many jaw traps are now equipped with a mechanism that allows you to remove the dead rodent without ever having to handle its body.

A third option is to use a specially formulated chemical poison to kill rodents. This can work, but you run the risk of the animal crawling away from somewhere in your house and dying, leaving you with the stench of a decaying body. It’s also not a good idea to use poison in areas where it can be detected and ingested by young children or pets.

If your rodent problem gets so serious that stronger action is required, consider calling in professional exterminators who are experts at getting rodents back outside where they belong.