A skittering in the attic. A munching sound in your walls. Droppings in the pantry. All of these are signs that you have a rodent problem in your home. But rodents are common – is it something that you actually need to worry about? As it turns out, the problems that rodents can cause might actually be understated – and we have the scoop on all you need to know about Louisiana rodents.
Types of Rodents Common in Louisiana
While there are a number of different types of rodents that can be found all over Louisiana, there are three that are the most common when it comes to home infestation:
- House Mice
- Norway Rats
- Roof Rats
Each of these rodents is very common in Louisiana homes, and they pose problems for homeowners that range from headache-inducing to downright dangerous. Before we break down rodent dangers, let’s first get into the observable differences between each of these rodents that can help you identify what kind of rodent infestation you are likely dealing with.
The common house mouse can seem innocuous enough, but they can carry disease, contaminate food, cause damage with scratching and gnawing, and reproduce rapidly – with a single female house mouse capable of having 35 babies a year.
House mice have distinctive features that can make them relatively easy to identify – if you can get eyes on them:
- Gray or light brown fur with a cream-colored belly
- 2-4” long
- Pointed muzzles
- Large ears
- Round bodies
Rats have a scarier reputation among house rodents due to their size and their penchant to carry disease – but the most common threat that a Norway rat poses is their scratching and gnawing, which can be the cause of anything from minor damage to house fires.
Norway rats are:
- Brown furred with a smattering of black hair
- Gray, off-white, or yellow-ish bellies
- Long bodies – 7-10”
- Tails shorter than bodies
- Small eyes and ears
Roof rats are smaller than their rodential counterpart Norway Rats, but that doesn’t make them any less of a threat to Louisiana homes. Like Norway Rats they gnaw, scratch and bite, and they also are notorious food contaminators who can spread diseases. Their penchant for nesting in higher elevation areas inside of structures is where they get their name – and if you think you have roof rats the roof or attic are a good place to start.
What do roof rats look like compared to Norway Rats?:
- Brown and black-furred
- Gray, white, or black bellies
- 6-8” long bodies that are long and thin
- Long tails – tails are longer than bodies
- Large ears and eyes
Rodent Damage, Explained
Rodents cause all types of damage around the home. Clothing, wood, paper products (think books and photographs), and even insulation are all perfect materials for rodent nest-building, and that puts them at risk of destruction if and when you are dealing with a rodent infestation. Even upholstered furniture isn’t safe: rodents will burrow into furniture and even car seats because they are perfect as warm, safe nests.
While the sort of damage identified above is nothing to scoff at, where rodents become a truly dangerous threat is when they start messing with electrical wiring. Because they will munch on the insulation around the wiring, mice and rats can create an unstable and dangerous situation surrounding your home’s electrical system – and in some cases this can lead to house fires. In fact, according to PestWorld, “it’s estimated that rodents are responsible for 20 percent to 25 percent of all fires of unknown causes because of their propensity for chewing electrical wiring and gas lines.” An electrical fire can lead to serious house damage, complete destruction, and even death – put simply, a rodent infestation can be dangerous, expensive, and even life-threatening to ignore.
Human Food is Rodent Food
Perhaps the number one thing that attracts rodents to homes is access to food. Rodents tend to prefer a carbohydrate-heavy diet, but they are ultimately not picky: they will scavenge for anything that can, and the more accessible the better. There are, however, some foods found around almost any kitchen that are especially appealing to rodents, including:
- Other sweet fruits
- Pet food
There are a few things that you can do to make the food in your home less appealing to rodents, including:
- Keeping food sealed in tightly secured containers.
- Don’t leave crumbs or dirty dishes around the home. Try to sweep and vacuum the rooms that you eat in regularly, and wash dishes and utensils shortly after use.
- Don’t leave your pet food out overnight – instead clean out open bowls and secure all pet food in sealed containers.
- Keep both indoor and outdoor trash in tightly secured garbage containers. Rodents have no problem scavenging food out of the trash, and even outdoor trash can ultimately lead to rodents in the home.
Other Things That Attract Rodents
While food access is a major rodent attractant, it’s not the only reason that your home can make mice and rats jump for joy. The warmth and shelter that your home provides to you and your family is also extremely appealing to rodents, especially between November and March when nights can get chilly in New Orleans and the rest of Louisiana.
Clutter can also be a major attractant to rodents: the more stuff scattered about in your basement, attic, or garage, the more resources that rodents will have access to for nest-building – and that can make your home and property a whole lot more appealing than your tidier neighbor’s.
Signs of a Rodent Infestation
While we identified many of the signs of a rodent infestation earlier, let’s review the common signs of rodents to make sure that we have everything covered:
- 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 which create entry points into the home.
- Stale smells coming from hidden areas.
Rodents and Disease
Wild rodents also have a pretty notorious reputation for their ability to spread diseases to humans and other pets – usually spread to humans through accidental inhalation or consumption of their feces or urine particles (we know – super gross). While the bubonic plague is for the most part far in the past, it is among a number of diseases that rodents are capable of transmitting to humans, according to the CDC:
A severe illness caused by exposure to the droppings or urine of mice that carry the virus. Though rare, it can sometimes be fatal.
Leptospirosis is a disease caused by bacteria called Leptospira that infects both humans and a wide range of animals. Some wild rodents carry the Leptospira bacteria and pass them in their urine. Soil or water contaminated with infected urine are the most common causes of human infection.
Plague is a serious infection of humans caused by a germ called Yersinia pestis. It is usually caused by the bite of a flea that has fed on an infected wild animal, such as a rat. It usually causes large sores and abscesses in the glands of the arms and legs. Dogs, and especially cats, can also become infected and can spread the disease to their human companions.
Tularemia is a bacterial disease caused by Francisella tularensis and is most commonly found in wild animals, including wild rodents. People and their pets can become ill from tularemia by coming into contact with infected dead or ill animals through animal bites and exposure to contaminated blood or raw meat. Tularemia can also be transmitted by the bite of an infected tick, exposure to contaminated water or soil, and inhalation of bacteria.
It’s pretty clear that rodents can be dangerous in quite a few different ways – but what can we do to prevent them? Cleaning up food and water in and around the home is a good start, but that won’t completely ward off a group of chilly rodents. Keeping your home and property relatively tidy- limiting clutter, leaf piles, and piles of mulch- can also make nesting harder for rodents, but even that isn’t enough. The number one way to protect your home from rodent infestation is to seal the access points inside and outside of your home, which includes any holes, cracks, or crevices.
So if you do all of that you are safe from rodents, right? Possibly, but there is always a risk that you’ll miss something in your own rodent prevention efforts, and even the smallest mistake can mean big problems because mice can squeeze through a hole or crack as small as ¼”. True rodent prevention requires professional help, and that’s where Lajaunie’s Pest Control comes in.
Here’s how our rodent control process works:
- Free inspection. Our trained rodent exterminators will perform a free rodent inspection to determine the points of entry and the severity of your infestation.
- Customized treatment plan. We’ll provide a customized treatment plan based on our findings from the inspection.
- Family-safe treatments. We understand that protecting your family is at the forefront of your mind, which is why we offer family-friendly rodent stations for pest service agreement holders.
Want to start protecting your home from rodents today? Give us a call at (985) 401-7244 or contact us here to schedule your rodent control treatment today!