How New Construction & Remodeling Projects Lead to Rodent Problems
Many city dwellers complain that construction creates rodent problems. The problems can become so pervasive that they become headline news, such as this “waterfall” of rats in San Francisco and numerous other reports of infestations. This doesn’t only happen in the city, but new home construction and home improvement projects often go hand and hand with pest problems, too. Remodeling and new construction can be frustrating enough as it is, so few homeowners want to talk about the unintended consequences, like an uptick in rat and mouse sightings. Nothing takes the excitement out of a construction project like finding an unexpected infestation.
Before you plan to freshen up the front of your house by upgrading your porch or tear up your yard to add a patio with a fire pit, it’s good to understand how this can impact pests in the area.
Can Construction Cause Mice and Rats?
It isn’t hard to understand why people sometimes think rodents are attracted to new construction or remodeling. If you never noticed a rodent problem in the area before, and then start seeing rats and mice once the work begins, it seems pretty obvious. The idea makes even more sense if you believe that rodents like dirty places with lots of clutter and debris — a construction site would be very attractive to them.
The unfortunate truth is that mice and rats were always in these places, they were just in hiding. The construction just disturbed their nesting ground or hiding spots and brought them out into the open. They may have been nesting in your basement, attic, dryer vent or any other out of the way place for quite some time before the project started.
Help Out Your Neighbors
Construction affects everyone in the area. The sound of pounding hammers, scraping shovels, and the ambient noise of a work site are difficult to ignore. If neighboring construction has disturbed a rodent den, the problem becomes harder to ignore.
Events that are unexpected and/or beyond our control, like when your neighbor decides to channel their inner Bob Villa or when Wrigley Field‘s renovations sent rats running through the neighborhood, are the reason why a pest prevention plan is so important. Whether it’s your home that’s going under construction or not, a natural pest control approach is easy if you follow our DIY four step plan:
- Clean up. Clear away anything pests are attracted to such as easy food sources like a dish full of dog food or that sink full of dirty dishes you forgot to wash.
- Seal up. Caulk and seal entry points, such as cracks, gaps and holes around your home that rodents or insects might enter through.
- Straighten up. Rodents like to hide in tight, narrow spaces so pay special attention if you have a couch pressed up against a wall or rows of boxes in storage. Shrubs and brush near the exterior of your home, woodpiles and compost heaps also create rodent-friendly habitat.
- Pouch up. Place EarthKind’s botanical mouse prevention pouches, Stay Away® Rodent, around your home for a level of protection that goes above and beyond.
Pest prevention is the most successful when a community works together. Talk to your neighbors about the scope of the problem and what steps you are taking around your home. Encourage others to use covered trash cans and to only put garbage outside as close to collection times as possible. Ask people to refrain from feeding wild or stray animals. If food is being left out and attracting rodents, you may want to consider contacting your local Health Department.
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Signs of a Rodent Infestation to Look For
Now that you know the mice didn’t just come out of nowhere, it’s important to be able to recognize signs of rodents you can look for in the future.
Things like greasy looking rub marks close to the floor along walls; signs of gnawing on electrical wires; a stale, musky, “mousey” odor; little black rice-like pellets (droppings), and strange noises like squeaks, rustling, or scurrying sounds all indicate a rat or mouse problem. What may seem like a small thing can turn into a big problem if left unchecked.
The idea that these pests might be living alongside us and we wouldn’t even know it is disturbing, but that’s how these pests have survived and thrived for thousands of years. Remodeling projects, no matter the size, have the potential to disturb them. The problem may not become apparent in some cases until you dig into untouched storage areas like basements, attics, or crawl spaces.
Types of Rats and Mice You May Encounter
There are a few common types of rodents that are likely to cause homeowners problems during construction projects.
- Roof Rat – (aka black rats or ship rats) can be found in the coastal and southern regions of the U.S. They tend to live in the upper parts of buildings frequenting warehouses, factories, and other industrial settings, but can also be found under, in, and around structures.
- Norway Rat – (aka city rats) are happy making their home indoors or out, frequently burrowing in soil, garbage, woodpiles, and under concrete slabs. Although they get the most publicity for stalking NYC subways and earned Chicago the title of “rattiest city,” they can be found anywhere in urban, suburban, and rural America.
- House Mouse – are found all over the world, and can easily adapt to its surrounding environment. This means if they are disturbed during a renovation project, they will move on to the next closest spot they can find and adapt.
- Field Mouse – (aka deer mice) are found in all areas of North America. They prefer the exterior perimeter of homes, buildings, and vehicles.
These pests can all carry numerous diseases that can be extremely harmful such as plague, jaundice, and salmonellosis. It’s important once an infestation is found, to fix the issue.
Rodent Control is a Team Effort
Neighboring residents and businesses may not have control over construction, but they can still take steps to help control mouse and rat problems. Control depends on three factors: food, water, and shelter. Eliminating these three necessities will have the greatest effect on getting rid of rats and mice and preventing future infestations.
Working together as a community can make all the difference when it comes to infestations. The use of a plant-based rodent repellent is an important step to keeping unwanted rodents from intruding upon your property.