Those of us who grew up rooting for Jerry to get the best of Tom on Saturday mornings might want to switch sides: it’s Rodent Awareness Week and things are about to get real for uninvited members of order Rodentia.
Mice (it’s a rare rat that makes it into a suburban home) look for warm cozy places to wait out the winter, said Michael Bensche, director of marketing for Agawam-based Braman Termite and Pest Elimination.
Rodent Awareness Week is Nov. 16 though 22.
“It has gotten worse in the last decade,” Bensche said. “Mice used to enter in the fall and leave in the spring. But now, once they come in they set up housekeeping until you do something to get rid of them.’
And don’t depend on a house cat. Tom from the cartoons put forth an effort – however futile – but today’s tabby’s won’t even bother.
“I can’t tell you how many people call us for help with a rodent population and tell us to be careful of their cat,” Bensche said. “To be honest we treat our house cats a little bit too well. Cats get fat, dumb and lazy.”
First, the warning signs that you have a mouse problem, according to Bensche and his Braman staff:
- Droppings: A trail of rodent droppings is typically found in kitchen cabinets and pantries, along walls, on top of foundations, and in boxes, bags and old furniture.
- Noises: Rodents often make scurrying sounds, especially at night, as they move about and nest.
- Gnaw marks: New gnaw marks tend to be rough to the touch and are light colored.
- Burrows: Inside, rodents often nest in various materials such as insulation, and they are drawn to areas that are dark and secluded.
- Damaged food packages: House mice prefer to feed on cereals and seeds. Norway rats are omnivorous.
Braman’s staff will first find out where the little critters got in, Bensche said. That means checking anyplace where the exterior of the home is deteriorating.
A mouse can squeeze through a spot the size of dime.
That means checking and closing up:
- Poorly fitting doors, especially hatchways and garages.
- Holes where pipes and wires enter the house. look for the gas meter and the oil-fill for the furnace.
- Holes or loose mortar in a block or brick foundation.
- Once the means of entry is taken care of, Bensche said exterminators will use a variety of traps, baits and tracking powders to eliminate the mice.