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It’s time to prepare for the fall rodent season

newspaper-headerAs cooler weather approaches, we should all be aware that commensal rodents (the kind that can live closely with humans) are looking for a warm and inviting place to spend the winter.  And that could very well be your home or business!

Rats and mice have no respect for economic level or status.  Being careful about how you store your household trash is great but leaving fruit from your tree on the ground or feeding your pet outside could be inviting rodents to dinner.  Rats and mice have adapted to live in and near our homes where they cause tremendous damage and spread disease.

The three most common rodents encountered by citizens of Virginia are the Norway rat, the roof rat and the house mouse.  All of these rodents are good jumpers, climbers, swimmers and gnawers.

The Norway rat is a burrower, usually nesting in a dirt burrow up to 150 feet from its food supply.  And that food supply is often in or around your home or business.

Roof rats are long, slender rodents that reside in arboreal spaces. Roof rats may inhabit trees, roofs, eaves, crawlspaces or attics. Their tails are as long as or longer than their bodies.

The house mouse usually nests indoors within stored materials, but can also live outside, burrowing in areas around fields and lawns.  Mice often become a problem when they enter homes in the fall seeking warmth.  Mice occupy a small territory, traveling only 10 to 30 feet from their nests for food.

“Rodent populations are increasing throughout the Commonwealth” reports Gena Lupini, President of the Virginia Pest Management Association.  “Some of our member companies are reporting increases of up to 50% in rodent service calls this year over 2011”.

“Our mild winter has helped increase rodent populations statewide. Sharp drops in temperature that usually hit temperate regions in the winter naturally increase the rats’ mortality rate and reduces the speed with which they breed”, says Ms. Lupini. “Additionally, warmer weather means more people outside, discarding more trash and food that feeds urban rat populations”

“Our VPMA professionals are experts in rodent biology and are trained to find rodent habitats, understand the scope and size of the problem and determine which combination of rodent proofing, elimination of food sources and control measures will eliminate the infestation” she continued.

The Virginia Pest Management Association recommends the following:

·      DO NOT store garbage outside in plastic bags.  Plastic garbage bags are not rodent-proof and should be placed in a garbage can with a tight fitting lid.

·      DO NOT allow birdseed to accumulate on the ground.  Do not leave pet food or animal waste outside.  Store pet food or birdseed in container with a tight fitting lid.

·      DO NOT leave ripe fruit and vegetables under trees or in the garden to decay.

·      DO NOT leave food scraps in compost piles.

·      DO remove any piles of debris or building material such as old brick or boards that may provide shelter for rodents.

·      DO clear brush, weeds and heavy ground covers, especially around foundations.

·      DO trim tree limbs that are touching or very near the structure.

·      DO contact a VPMA member company for professional assessment and control if you suspect a rodent problem in your home or business.

Hiring a professional may be well worth it, say the experts, if you want to protect your home.

For more information on pest management, contact the Virginia Pest Management Association at 877-875-8722 or visit the VPMA website to find VPMA member companies at

Augusta Health Augusta Free Press Kris McMackin CPA
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Augusta Free Press