Some people think mice and rats are adorable. In fact, some people think they're so adorable they have them as pets. As a pest control company, you might think that we disagree with the idea of having rodents as pets, but we don't. Mice and rats can make great pets. But there is a big difference between a domesticated rodent and a rodent that lives in the wild. A pet rodent isn't allowed to get into the wrong places, such as a dumpster, a sewer, a compost heap, or the woods. The woods? Yup. When rodents scurry around in the woods they pick up ticks and fleas, which are vectors for human pathogens. As we talk today about the problems rodents cause in Florida homes, we hope to weave a thread that will give you a broader understanding of why wild rodents are such a problem when they get in, and hopefully shed light on any misconceptions you may have about those wild mice being adorable houseguests.
Food contamination is a serious concern when rodents get into a home. One of the ways mice and rats can contaminate your food is by exposing it to harmful bacteria. They pick this bacteria up from climbing around in dumpsters, trash cans, sewers, and other dirty places. These are locations a pet rodent would not have access to. But contaminating food isn't as big an issue as the contamination of dishes and food-prep surfaces. When a rodent gets into your food packaging, you're likely to notice the hole. You may also see food spilled out onto your shelves or floor. When they climb on your cutting board or explore cabinets with dishes, you're not going to realize contamination has occurred.
Rodents are the highest risk for the start of harmful tick and flea infestations. They are even more of a threat than your dog or cat. The locations that rodents frequent are places where ticks and fleas hide such as tall grass, damp forests, and shaded locations under vegetation. So, when they get into your home, it is likely that they won't come in alone. But that isn't where the threat ends. Rodents can carry human pathogens inside them. If an infected rodent brings ticks or fleas into your home, those parasites can transfer diseases to you and your pets. A pet rodent is contained, so it can't pick up parasites or harmful human pathogens.
When rodents chew their way into your home, they can create pathways for water to get in and cause damage. When they get into your attic or storage areas, they can damage stored furniture, appliances, boxes, memorabilia, clothing, and more. As they move about your home they can damage building materials such as wallpaper, baseboards, sheetrock, and insulation. Pet rodents can do this too if you let them out of their cage and they get away from you. Rodents have to chew on things. If they don't, their ever-growing front teeth will get too long.
Droppings and Urine
Mice and rats leave their droppings and urine everywhere they roam. This can be a problem when rodents get into your home because their urine can create quite a smell, and droppings and urine can create a contamination issue. They also don't have a problem sleeping where they leave their urine and droppings. Since pet rodents aren't exposed to harmful bacteria and human pathogens, their waste isn't quite as threatening. Pet rodents will also groom themselves and others, which reduces your chances of being exposed to harmful bacteria. The grooming behavior of a wild rodent actually works against them. It causes them to ingest things that can make them sick and ultimately make you or your pets sick when infected rodents leave their feces and urine in your home.
The Big Picture
We have only touched the surface of the ways rodents can be harmful when they get into your Florida home. There are more. But our goal wasn't to overwhelm you with a long list of rodent dangers. We want to give you insight into why rodents are harmful so you will consider taking action to prevent the harm these animals can cause.
If you live in Bradenton or the Greater Tampa area, and you need assistance with rodent control, reach out to us. Keller's Pest Control uses field-tested products and methods to effectively remove and exclude rodents. We'll give you the support you need to get those rodents under control.