Top Five Fall Rodent-Proofing Tips

Make sure your home is not an open door for rodents and other pests

Some parts of the Northwest have already seen snow, and as the cool temperatures start to settle in for the next few months, Orkin, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Rollins Inc., advises homeowners to pest-proof their homes now, because fall is when most insect and rodent pests seek shelter for the winter months.

"As the weather starts to cool, rodents and other pests move inside to overwinter and breed," said Pat Copps, Pacific division technical services director at Orkin. "A pregnant female mouse can produce an average of eight pups in a litter, and a rat, seven pups on average, and there are typically four to five litters per year. Their gestation period is about a month, so before you know it, one mouse can turn into a major problem for homeowners."

Mice can fit through an opening the size of a dime, so it is important to fix any cracks in and under siding, doors and windows. In addition to warmth, rodents enter homes looking for food and water. They prefer cereals and grains, but will eat just about anything.

As you prepare your home for winter, Orkin recommends the five following tips:

>>Make sure all holes, gaps and cracks larger than ¼ of an inch are sealed.

>>Replace door sweeps and make sure doors and windows close tightly.

>>Clean out gutters and install gutter guards to prevent leaves and debris from accumulating.

>>Store firewood as far from the home as possible.

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

"With the recent increase in the number of vector borne diseases caused by Hantavirus and Bubonic plague, it is extremely important to be proactive in protecting your home this winter against mice and rats," said Copps. "Both diseases tend to occur more frequently in rural parts of western states, which are where rodent activity is higher this year."

Hantavirus is carried in rodent urine and feces, and people can breathe in the affected particles through the air. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the plague is most often transmitted by fleas. When an infected rodent dies from the plague and the fleas from that can carry the bacteria when they bite people or pets.