TOM KRAEUTLER: Welcome to the Money Pit Pest Prevention Podcast, presented by Orkin. I am Tom Kraeutler. Well as the cooler temperatures start to settle in for the next few months, it is also the season when rodents seek shelter indoors to get away from the cold and if your home is not made mouse proof, you can bet some of those furry little creatures could find a way in. They can invade your food as well as carry diseases. Greg Baumann is the Vice President of Training and Technical Services for Orkin and he has tips on how to keep mice and rats away during the cold days ahead. Welcome Greg.
GREG BAUMANN: Thank you very much Tom, it is great to be here.
TOM KRAEUTLER: Coming up in this episode of the Money Pit Pest Prevention Podcast, we are going to find out which rodents carry the deadly Hantavirus and where these rodents can be found in the United States. We will also learn how mice can enter your home and how to prevent them from doing so and why some rodents can even cause fires in your house.
So Greg, let’s start by talking about the cold weather. That is when more and more mice head inside. What do we do to our homes to try and eliminate those entry points?
GREG BAUMANN: Well Tom, there are several things that the homeowner can do to try to reduce chances of rodent infestation. First of all, regularly inspect the exterior for droppings, rub marks, anything that might be an indication of rodents.
TOM KRAEUTLER: So droppings are obvious. Rub marks, what do you mean by that? Is this a place where rodents might start to kind of gnaw their way in?
GREG BAUMANN: When we see spots where the rodent frequently moves, these are going to be along the walls themselves because rodents like to touch the wall many times, so it is going to be a little dirtier area on a baseboard for example than you would have in the other parts of the baseboard.
TOM KRAEUTLER: Okay.
GREG BAUMANN: I would like to also suggest that you seal all cracks larger than a quarter of an inch because remember rodents can get through any hole larger than a quarter. Okay? So rats can get through a quarter and mice, believe it or not, can get through smaller holes, the size of a dime. That is pretty small if you think about it.
TOM KRAEUTLER: Wow, so if you can stick your pinky in the hole, a mouse could squeeze through there and get into your house.
GREG BAUMANN: That is exactly right, so maintenance is extremely important.
TOM KRAEUTLER: What about food storage? It would seem that a lot of folks are not as careful as they should be with food storage and that includes pet food.
GREG BAUMANN: Well that is exactly right too because pet food is a really great formulation that rodents love. It has all of the great nutrients for pets and also has the great nutrients for pests.
TOM KRAEUTLER: So if you do not want your pests to be pets, then get the food off the ground.
GREG BAUMANN: That is exactly right.
TOM KRAEUTLER: I think it is a good thing to talk about because dog food for example, it comes in these big heavy bags. A lot of times we will leave that bag on the floor. Mice can certainly chew through the paper bag. We will also leave it in the garage perhaps where we are not paying attention and mice can get in there easier from the outside and chew through it. So with all sorts of food, if you want to prevent rodents you really need to get it up off the ground and wherever possible get it into some sort of container that cannot be chewed through, right?
GREG BAUMANN: Well that is exactly right. You also do not want to leave pet food sit out overnight because that is just a buffet for rodents. Also if you are going to be storing those large bags you were talking about, put them in a large plastic trash can with a tight fitting lid. That is going to keep the rodents from getting in and infesting that food and setting up camp quite honestly, in your garage.
TOM KRAEUTLER: Let’s talk now about the bigger rodents, let’s talk about rats. Now, fortunately rats are not as common in our house than mice are but when they do get in it can be a pretty devastating experience. And not are we talking about the rats that get in your house, there are also rats that live out and around your house. For example, roof rats. So talk to me about the different types of rats and how we can control them.
GREG BAUMANN: Well, there are two main pest rats in the United States. We have the Roof rat as you mentioned and this was something that probably came over to Jamestown, believe it or not, in the 1600’s.
TOM KRAEUTLER: Wow.
GREG BAUMANN: This is not native to the United States. It was imported and then there is the Norway rat.
TOM KRAEUTLER: So these Roof rats could have travelled over on the ships from Europe.
GREG BAUMANN: Roof rats definitely travelled on the ships coming over from Europe.
TOM KRAEUTLER: Wow.
GREG BAUMANN: They were not native to this country and then there is the Norway rat. Now the Norway rat is kind of a bad name because it kind of implies that the Norwegians sent the rat here. Well, that is not what happened at all. It was first studied in Norway and both of these rats are native of Asia.
TOM KRAEUTLER: So the Norway rat is what we would consider sort of the common rat that we would see here?
GREG BAUMANN: It is the brown rat, the sewer rat, the rat that we see down at the ground level. Whereas the Roof rats are a lot more agile, they have a tall that is longer than the body, whereas the Norway rat has a tall that is shorter than the body. You hear people saying, “I saw a rat the size of a cat”. Well, that is bit of an exaggeration because they usually do not grow more than just a couple of pounds.
TOM KRAEUTLER: So it is a fish story, right? Yes, good point. So do the Roof rats actually spend most of their time up on the roof? Or do you get those in the basements and crawl spaces as well?
GREG BAUMANN: Roof rats will be very, very happy to be at the floor level. It is just that they are extremely agile, they can climb really, really well. Roof rats were responsible for hosting the flea that caused the plague of the 1400’s.
TOM KRAEUTLER: Oh nice.
GREG BAUMANN: Which decimated Europe.
TOM KRAEUTLER: Wow.
GREG BAUMANN: So these are not friendly little cute rodents. People sometimes like little mice? You do not want to like a rodent and you do not want to like a mouse either.
TOM KRAEUTLER: Aside from the gross factor, what is the biggest concern with rodents like mice and rats setting up shop inside your home? Are there a lot of diseases associated with them? You mentioned the fleas but just what about the basic diseases?
GREG BAUMANN: Yes, they can spread many diseases, in fact there are strict regulations against having rodents in food handling establishments and that is for a reason. Because they do spread disease, they can spread salmonella, they can contaminate the food with their droppings and their urine, and they can also be responsible for Hantavirus, which is a pulmonary disease. It is very common out in the West and we are seeing an increase throughout the country right now.
TOM KRAEUTLER: You guys actually did an interesting survey, you called it ‘The Most Dangerous Pests Survey’. You found out that four percent of all Americans have seen rodents in their house but that actually doubles in Mid-Atlantic states like New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania.
GREG BAUMANN: Yes, that is exactly right. I think it goes up to nine percent for those states in the Northeast, so rodents are a serious issue especially where you have concentrated populations because you might be near an apartment building that has a lot of rodents. Those rodents, the overflow population, will try to find a nice area and it could be your house.
TOM KRAEUTLER: We know that we do not want rodents in our house and we know that there are some things that we can do to try to make our homes less attractive to rodents. What if they are already there, we need to get rid of them, so the typical approaches might be the mouse trap? There might be baits or other types of poisons? What do you recommend a consumer do and at what point do they call in a pro?
GREG BAUMANN: If they see any signs of rodents, the most important thing is to give us a call and Orkin has specialist. They will go out and take a look and see, are those droppings really from a rodent or is it just dirt? What kind of rodent will it be and once you determine the type of rodent, you want to look for the source. After they determine the source, then they will do a customized treatment that is suitable for that location. It is not something that a consumer typically wants to get involved with, it is something that a trained professional is probably best suited for.
TOM KRAEUTLER: Good advice because there are risks associated with using for example, baits. I mean, you want to use them in the right place, in the right amounts and you want to place them in such a way where they cannot be exposed to pets or small kids.
GREG BAUMANN: Absolutely. One of the big concerns that we have as an industry is, we want to make sure that we use tamper resistance bait stations to make sure that children and pets cannot access the bait. Because after all, we only want the rodents to come in contact with the bait.
TOM KRAEUTLER: Good advice. Gregg Baumann, the Vice President of Training and Technical Services for Orkin. Thanks so much for filling us in on how to keep these little critters outside of our house.
GREG BAUMANN: My pleasure Tom.
TOM KRAEUTLER: If you would like to learn more about how to identify and prevent pest problems in your home, visit Orkin.com. The Orkin.com site is full of useful information to help identify and eliminate insect problems in and around your home, including a pest library where you will be able to look-up any pest that you come across as well as find a local Orkin Pest Control professional to help you eliminate those pests. It is all online at Orkin.com. Orkin, pest control down to a science. I am Tom Kraeutler, thanks for listening.