With a new season comes new pests seeking shelter in and around your home. Fall pests frequently include one of the most unwelcome home invaders: rodents. Rodents, may be cute at a pet store, but they are health and safety hazards in your home.  

Rats and mice can cause serious damage to your home. They’re constantly gnawing on wires, electric cables, books, wood, etc., and will nest when they find shelter, damaging insulation, drywall, and possibly even the structure of your home. 

Rodents also carry disease and contaminate food supplies. They contaminate or eat up to 20% of the world’s food every year. On top of leaving droppings, urine, and hair in food, they often carry fleas, mites, ticks, and lice.  This increases the chance for disease and more pests in your home. Rodents also carry many diseases themselves, like hantavirus, typhus, leptospirosis, and salmonella.  

As temperatures drop and rodents are looking for a warm place to stay this winter, it’s best to take the opportunity to rodent-proof your home before it gets too cold! Here are some tips to keep your home rodent-free this fall. 

1. Seal any Potential Entry Points 

Make it as hard as possible for pests of any kind to enter your home by sealing entry points. Fix holes in door screens and replace any cracked/broken windows. Fill gaps around doors and windows with gaskets, sweeps, or weather stripping, and mend cracks in your foundation with caulk or cement. Ensure that venting is appropriately intact, and minimize any gaps around the places where phone, cable, and gas lines enter your home. 

2. Sanitize What You Can 

Spring isn’t the only season for cleaning! Food residue, crumbs, and water attract hungry rodents. Wipe counters after preparing food. Sweep under appliances and cabinets for any dropped crumbs. Keep garbage covered, and take it out as soon as it’s full. If you have pets, consider putting their food away at night and make sure to maintain a clean area around it. 

3. Store Food Properly 

Food will attract many types of pests! It’s essential to properly store food — including pet food — so it doesn’t become bait for unwanted critters in your home. Seal up leftovers in airtight containers, store food in the fridge, and get rid of anything that has expired promptly. 

4. Minimize Moisture 

Along with food and shelter, mice and rats also need water. Whether it’s the dog’s water bowl, a leaky pipe, or a damp bathroom, any built-up water can entice rodents and other pests into your home. Be diligent in checking for plumbing problems, keeping your home well-ventilated, and avoid standing water wherever possible.  

5. Keep the Yard Tidy 

Your yard can also attract rodents to your property with places to hide away or offer easy access into your home. Last year’s wood pile, extra boxes from storage, or other items left outdoors become shelter for a variety of inhabitants very quickly.  Minimize any piles of debris, trim branches and shrubs, and store wood piles at least 4 feet away from the home to help deter pests.