The weather is finally cooling down, and you know what that means: “rodent season” is coming. Of course, rodents can be a problem during any time of year in Southern California, but chilly temperatures mean that indoor infestations will be on the rise. Here’s what you need to know about keeping rats and mice out of your humble abode this winter.
WHY ARE RODENTS SUCH A PROBLEM DURING WINTER?
Rodents are actually more like us than we like to think: they’d much rather be warm and cozy than freezing their tails off outside on a chilly night. As winter approaches, rodents begin to seek shelter where they can find protection from the cold. There are few places warmer than a climate-controlled human home.
Furthermore, wild mice and rats eat a diet that consists largely of seeds, plants, and fruits. Those items become scarcer during fall and winter. Consequently, rodents start to forage for food in human yards and homes, raiding bird feeders, eating cat and dog kibble that’s left outdoors, scrounging through garbage cans, and sneaking indoors to eat food stored in garages and pantries.
HOW TO KEEP RODENTS OUT OF YOUR HOME THIS WINTER
Even if you’ve never seen a mouse or rat around your home, it’s a good idea to use these rodent-proofing tips to make sure a pest control problem never starts. After all, rodents breed extremely fast and from a very young age, and what starts as one mouse can become an infestation before you know it.
1. Cut back any tree branches that are touching your home, especially the roof.
Rats and mice are very clever when it comes to finding a way inside homes. They’ll often use trees like a ladder to climb into windows or onto your roof. If you have particularly tall trees that need trimming, enlist the help of a licensed and insured tree expert so that you can stay safe on the ground.
2. Air-seal your windows and exterior doors.
Did you know that mice can squeeze through a gap as small as a dime? Some can even fit through holes no larger than a pencil’s diameter! You can prevent mice from entering your home by installing caulk on your windows and weatherstripping on your exterior doors. Plus, that air-sealing will help lower your energy bills and make your home more comfortable.
3. Make sure your door sweeps are intact.
Door sweeps are areas that homeowners frequently forget to check. If the sweep is worn or too high off the doorframe, a mouse can easily slip underneath. Also, make sure your garage door’s sweep makes contact with the ground all the way across.
4. Store woodpiles away from your home.
If you use real wood in your fireplace or fire pit, make sure to store it at least 20 feet away from your home. Rodents frequently hide in woodpiles and also use them to access homes.
5. Block access to exterior vents.
Exterior vents are another common access point into homes for mice and rats. You can prevent this by blocking the vent with steel wool. Take care to only caulk the edges so that you’re sealing the steel wool in place but still allowing airflow in and out of the vent.
6. Seal gaps around your home’s exterior.
Do a perimeter check of your home to look for any tiny gaps that a rodent could squeeze through. Typical locations are holes in the walls made for pipes, wires, and cables, or even the refrigerant line for your air conditioner. You can fill the gaps either with steel wool and caulk or a foam sealant.
7. Cut back overgrown landscaping.
Make sure to trim back bushes, shrubs, and vines that are overgrown. These make good hiding places for rodents and make your property a more inviting place to look for shelter.
8. Avoid leaving pet food and birdseed outdoors.
Rats and mice are opportunistic omnivores, meaning they will go for whatever food source is most convenient. Leaving out seeds in a birdfeeder or kibble in a bowl on your patio is an open invitation for foraging rodents to come to your property and stick around for “seconds.”