What are rodents?
Rodents are mammals that can all be identified by their front incisors that are continuously growing. Rodents must continually chew on objects in or around your home in order for these large teeth to grow. They are also well known for living close to people and taking advantage of food, water, and shelter sources that we unintentionally offer them.
Three of the most common species of rodents found in McKinney, Plano, and northeastern Texas are mice, rats, and squirrels.
Mice have mall, slender bodies. Their tails and large ears are covered in a light layer of velvety fur that is usually grayish-brown, dark gray, or black; their underbellies are lighter in color than the rest of their bodies.
Roof rats are identified by the brown or black fur on their backs, but with lighter grey or white fur on their underbellies. Fully grown, these rats typically grow to be between 6-10 inches with an additional 6-10 inch hairless tail.
Squirrels are small to medium-sized rodents. Their short, thick fur can be a variety of colors including gray, yellow, red, or brown, and their bellies are usually lighter in color than the rest of their bodies. Squirrels typically have long, bushy tails they use for balance.
Are rodents dangerous?
Rodents living inside with people have the potential to contaminate food sources, dishes, utensils, and surfaces of homes with their urine, feces, and saliva and spread a wide variety of diseases and bacteria to people, including Hantavirus, dysentery, leptospirosis, and salmonellosis. They can also create structural damage inside homes or businesses by chewing on things like furniture, flooring, drywall, insulation, walls, clothing, pictures, and books. Rodents can also damage gardens, lawns, and the exterior of your home.
Why do I have a rodent problem?
Rodents are a year-round threat, but tend to move indoors in higher numbers during the cooler winter months. They are initially attracted to properties that offer them ample sources of food, water, and shelter. Once comfortable on your property, they will quickly find their way into your home, usually while foraging for food. They enter homes and other structures in many ways including through chimneys, spaces in the foundation and exterior walls, holes along the roofline and vents, and spaces around utility lines.
What do rodents eat?
Rodents eat a wide variety of different foods, from birdseed to garbage, and everything in between, though their preferences do vary from species to species:
Mice - Outside, mice often feed on plants, seeds, nuts, and fruits as well as vegetables from gardens and scraps from compost piles and trash cans. Inside, mice will feed on just about anything they can find but prefer grain-based products such as seeds, cereals, pasta, and sweets, even establishing their nests close to food sources for easier access.
Roof rats - When hunting for food, roof rats are mostly active at night, preferring to forage together at sun-up and sun-down in groups of as many as 10 at a time! They will eat almost anything they can find, but they prefer fruits, berries, nuts, or seeds (Those who love bird feeders… you have been warned!). They are known to eat snails and slugs, insects, and other bugs, rotten food in trash and landfills, and even fish if they live by the water.
Squirrels - The squirrels found in our area feed primarily on plants, fruits, seeds, bark, and nuts, though they will occasionally feed on insects. When living in communities, you may also find these squirrels snacking on the birdseed in your birdfeeders or getting into garbage cans while looking for food scraps.
Where will I find rodents?
Whether living inside or outside of your home, rodents tend to choose quiet, out-of-the-way places to nest. Trees, woodpiles, dense vegetation, tall grass, or the abandoned nests of other small animals are all popular outdoor nesting spots. Inside, rodents are found nesting in attics, behind walls, under floors, and above ceilings in areas near food sources.
Outside, mice live comfortably in many different locations with preference to secluded places that keep them out of view from predators. Open fields with tall grass, crop fields, garden areas, yards, wood or rock piles, shrubs and bushes, and wooded areas can all become home to mice. Indoors, mice hide and nest in secluded spots near food and water. Areas behind large appliances, underneath cabinets, attics, basements, and crawlspaces are all places that mice like to forage for food and nest in.
Roof rats can be found throughout the world, but are much more common in warmer climates and especially areas near the ocean or other bodies of water. Roof rats live in colonies and make nests. As their name suggests, Roof rats are often found living up high in trees (especially palm trees) and inside attics.
Squirrels, like most rodents, are highly adaptable and are found living in rural, urban, and suburban areas. Depending on their exact species, squirrels nest in a variety of places including bushes, shrubs, trees, in the ground, under the foundation of your property, and under woodpiles. Squirrels often find their way into homes through spaces along the roofline and nest inside attics, chimneys, and behind wall voids.
When are rodents most active?
Mice commonly move indoors during the cooler winter months or during the extreme heat of the summer. They are nocturnal and spend most of their day resting, coming out overnight to forage for food. Mice do not hibernate. Rats are also nocturnal pests that do not hibernate. During the winter season, it is uncommon for rats to breed frequently. Squirrels are frequently seen running around foraging for food during the day; they are most active and productive on dry days. All of these rodents remain active throughout the year but become less active during periods of extremely hot or cold weather, relying on the food they have stored away.
Interesting facts about common Texas rodents
Looking to learn more about the most common rodent found in your area? We can help with that! Here are some interesting facts that you may not have known about the rodent species that commonly invade Northeast Texas homes and businesses, including mice, roof rats, and squirrels!
Mice are prolific breeders and a single female mouse can have up to 13 litters in just one year!
Mice are grazers and feed between 15 and 20 times a day.
One of the biggest reasons mice are so difficult to keep out of homes is because they can squeeze their bodies through spaces the diameter of a dime.
Female roof rats can have 3-6 litters a year with each litter consisting of 5-8. That is a potential for up to almost 50 babies a year! Can you imagine?
Roof rats' teeth are extremely strong, giving them the ability to chew through objects made of brick, glass, lead, aluminum, and even cinder blocks.
Despite their large size, roof rats can squeeze their bodies through space the diameter of a quarter.
Rats have poor eyesight and use their whiskers to navigate their way from their nests to food sources and back again. In fact, a common sign of a rat infestation is finding grease marks on the wall from their fur; because of their poor eyesight, they tend to travel the same path each day.
Roof rats are responsible for giving humanity the terrible Bubonic Plague, or the Black Death, which is estimated to have killed between 50 million people or nearly 50% of the population in Europe alone during the Middle Ages from 1346 to 1353. What is extra interesting about this is fleas living on rats may have been the real culprits in spreading the actual disease. Either way, roof rats definitely had a hand in it.
Squirrels are known for their love of nuts, but also feed on a variety of other foods including roots, leaves, fruits, vegetables, insects, and even bird eggs.
The four most common species of squirrels living throughout the United States are grey, fox, red, and ground squirrels; the fox squirrel is the most widely distributed squirrel species found throughout Texas.
How do I get rid of rodents?
To eliminate and/or prevent rodents, partner with Around The Block Pest Control. Our friendly and highly trained professionals deliver modern and effective pest control solutions. We will work closely with you to eliminate rodents and stop future rodents from making themselves at home in your Texas home or business.
Around The Block offers a variety of residential and commercial pest control services: general pest coverage, organic services, bed bugs control, fire ant control, mosquito control, rodent control, and more. To learn more about the rodent control services we offer throughout northeastern Texas, contact Around The Block Pest Control today!
How can I prevent rodents in the future?
In addition to our professional services, the following tips can help to prevent problems with rodents invading your property in McKinney, Texas and surrounding areas:
Make sure outdoor trash cans and compost bins have tight-fitting lids on them.
Keep outdoor eating areas clean by removing food debris and trash.
Eliminate entry points into your home or business.
Eliminate all clutter that could function as hiding spots from your property.
Pick up fallen fruits and vegetables from gardens.
Remove wild bird/animal feeders from your property.
Place woodpiles a distance away from the outside of your home.
Trim tree branches, shrubs, and bushes back away from the exterior of your structure.