Help protect your home from rodents this winter

The cold temperatures are settling in for the winter months, and if you’re not careful, rodents can also settle into your home. Your house – especially your kitchen – offers everything rats and mice are looking for: food, water and warmth.

“Rodents are cute in the movies, not in the house,” says Dr. Ron Harrison, technical services director at Orkin. “They are disease-transmitters and cause huge problems structurally. They’ve been known to cause fires by gnawing through electrical wires.”

Rodents are a triple threat to homeowners because they can contaminate food, destroy property and spread serious diseases, including Hantavirus and LCMV, a viral disease that can cause inflammation of the brain (encephalitis). They can spread these diseases through their urine and feces or directly through bites. Fleas, lice and ticks can also be brought into your home by rodents and can carry infection to humans after feeding on an infected mouse or rat.

It’s easier than you think for a rodent to get into your home. A rat can fit through an opening as small as a quarter, while a mouse can squeeze through a hole smaller than a dime. It’s important to contact a pest professional because rats can sense traps and bait. They colonize in attics, burrows, under concrete and porches, in walls and other hard to reach places.

Harrison offers the following tips to help prevent rodents from getting into your home this winter:

* Seal all cracks and install weather strips at the bottom of exterior doors.

* Trim branches, plants and bushes that hang over the home.

* Plant vegetation at least 12 inches away from the home.

* Keep the interior of the home clean.

* Store all food, including pet food, and garbage properly in sealed containers.

* Do not leave dishes in the sink or pet food out overnight.

It’s important to contact a licensed pest management professional such as Orkin for help in identifying and addressing rodent problems. For a free home inspection or for more information on rodents, call (800) 800-ORKIN or visit