About Arizona Rodents

arizona rodent problems

What rodents do we have in Arizona? What kind of problems do they cause? If you want the answers to these questions, and many other common queries, keep reading!  As Arizona’s premier pest control company, we have encountered countless rodents in residential and commercial establishments. Rodents can infest a home or office building overnight and take up residence for months before ever being noticed. We offer pest control in Phoenix and the surrounding cities. If you believe you have a rodent problem, contact us immediately so that we can identify the problem and remove it from the property. Rodents carry disease and in some cases can become aggressive, so be cautious if you notice one in your home or office. 

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What Are Rodents?

Rather than one animal, the word ‘rodent’ covers a number of small mammals known for gnawing with their large incisors. This includes hamsters, rats, mice, porcupines, squirrels, voles, and beavers. Found around the world, except Antarctica, they make up four in every ten mammals. In Arizona, rats and mice are most likely to invade your property, and squirrels have been known to nest in attic spaces, especially in Northern Arizona. Rodents may be seeking food and shelter when they enter your home, if they find what they are looking for then it makes sense to them to call it home. You can prevent rodents from finding food by keeping floors and countertops clean and free of edible goods. If food and water are not available, most rodents will find their way out the same way they came in. If you are dealing with rodent problems in your Arizona home, you can read more about eco-friendly solutions for rat infestations in Arizona

Types of Rodents in Arizona

roof rats infest phoenix homesIn Arizona, the majority of the rodent population seems to be taken up by pack rats, roof rats, and mice; the latter is split between deer mice and house mice. In Phoenix, roof rats are very common and they have even been known to infest entire neighborhoods, making the extermination process even more important. Weeding out a pack of rats in a single attic is one thing, having to identify and locate multiple nests within an infested neighborhood is another. Mice are equally capable of infesting a home, but usually through ground level entry points, whereas roof rats will climb trees and enter in through openings above. Roof rats are also attracted to citrus, keeping citrus trees trimmed and branches away from the roof will prevent them from climbing up and across on to your roof. There are usually obvious signs that rats have infested your home. Although these species of rodents all vary in shape and size, it’s their behavior that earns them the name ‘rodent’ as they gnaw on pipes, electrical wiring, and other parts of the house. This gnawing is oftentimes what gives them access to interior walls and attic spaces. Rodents are very capable of entering a home through open entryways but are just as likely to enter in through an unsealed plumbing opening in a crawl space, or by gnawing through mesh ventilation screens on the roof. As we’ll see later, rodents can also spread disease.

What Do Rodents Eat?

foods rodents eat in ArizonaThe answer to this question varies on the rodent; most rodents will eat nuts, for example, but they don’t look for nuts specifically (except for squirrels). Beavers will only eat plants, and many other rodents split their time between plants and meats. With rats especially, they look for scraps and rotten meat in the human trash. Aside from this, rodents can eat fruit, berries, dairy, bread, and they also search for salt in worn clothes and shoes. Roof rats are attracted to citrus, so lemon trees, orange trees, and other citrus plants can become vulnerable to the rats. Mice are also opportunists that feast on a similar diet, trash, scraps, and food debris littered about are all common feeding sources for mice. 

Where Do Rodents Live?

Once again, rodents are fairly diverse and it depends on the mammal in question; they tend to be either arboreal (living in trees), fossorial (burrowing), or semiaquatic (splitting time between land and water). While beavers look for ponds, lakes, marshes, and other areas with water, squirrels spend their time in trees, and mice can adapt to many different terrains from forests to manmade structures. Roof rats prefer higher grounds, often traveling from trees to the rooftop. There are some species of mice and rats that will burrow, but in the Phoenix metro area, the biggest concern among homeowners is the growing problem of roof rat infestations. Once rats or mice have entered your home, finding a cozy place to hunker down for the night is the least of their concerns. Especially in attic spaces where there is an abundance of warm, soft, insulation to curl up on. In addition to insulation in attics, there are often times boxes and various objects stored in the attic space giving rodents plenty of options when finding a resting place. Rodent prevention starts outside the home by keeping the property free of clutter and food and then continues indoors where cleanliness and a clutter-free living space will prevent rodents from easily finding places to hide an nest. You find additional information here about signs rats are living in your home

Signs That Rodents Are Nesting in Your Home

With some of the bigger rodents, people often notice their presence or they see teeth marks around the home; perhaps in the pipes or wiring. For smaller rodents, like mice and rats, it could be a case of nests, scampering sounds, droppings, unusual odors, gnawed holes, and a change in behavior in a cat/dog. If you spot any of these signs, it can be wise to examine all dark areas with a flashlight; this includes behind appliances, in outhouses, garages, attics, and in areas where trash is regularly stored. Rodents are sneaky creatures, mostly it’s caused by fear, but regardless they are great at hiding when they hear humans or animals approaching. With roof rats, there isn’t much foot traffic on top of the home, so there are fewer opportunities for homeowners to identify the problem. When roof rats infest it’s usually audible enough to notice. In the evenings when the house is quiet, there are usually sounds of pitter-patter or scratching above the ceiling. Arizona roof rats will invade attic space and scurry along the ceiling sheetrock, the sound of their footsteps is very noticeable. If they are burrowing through insulation, or gnawing through a cardboard storage box, scratching noises will become apparent. If you hear anything like this, chances are it’s a roof rat, but there are instances where squirrels and raccoon will take up residence in the attic also. If you feel you may have rodents in your attic space you can check the rooftop for openings, check the attic for rodents, and when the attic space is cleared patch up any openings to prevent re-entry.

Dangers of Rodents

health concerns caused by ratsAccording to industry experts, rats and mice alone can carry up to 35 types of disease so this is the largest danger of having rodents in and around the home (along with physical damage to the home). These diseases from rodents can spread to humans when handling the rodents or even after just coming into contact with their saliva, urine, or feces. Depending on the species, indirect contact can also cause problems; for example, through mites, fleas, or ticks. Roof rats and other attic invading pests will urinate and defecate in the areas above the ceiling, and with little ventilation, it can become a toxic hazard for anyone entering the area. As urine seeps into the ceiling sheetrock, the odor can become very noticeable, making the home an unpleasant place to occupy for the residents. As rats and mice infest beyond crawl spaces and attics and enter the place of dwelling, countertops, cabinet drawers, and other surface areas can quickly become contaminated with urine and fecal matter. This is where disease can spread if you are unaware that there is a problem. Fecal matter is easier to identify, but can easily be mistaken for crumbs or debris. Rat and mouse urine is harder to notice and identify, especially if it has had time to dry on the countertops. Many times these rodents will climb through the cabinets and drawers contaminating cooking supplies like pots and pans and even silverware.

The list of diseases is long, but includes leptospirosis, hantavirus, rat-bite fever, and, famously, plague; the effects of these range from bacterial infection to flu-like symptoms and fever. Rodents should be removed from the property by all means necessary. There are always options, rodent relocation and extermination are both services that are available here in the Phoenix metro area. If you prefer eco-friendly ways of dealing with rodents, there are plenty of options available to you, just ask us today. You can learn more about other infectious diseases in Arizona here.

How to Prevent Rodent Infestations

Since trash is one of the easiest ways for rodents to impact your home, we recommend sealing all trash bags tightly and even using tight-fitting lids on containers. Furthermore, walk around the outside of your home and seal all holes, clean up water (and other substance) spillages, and clear any piles of leaves. If you cut off their food supply and remove any potential homes, you shouldn’t ever have to worry about rodents. If you currently have an extensive problem, we recommend contacting professionals so they can deal with the issue without causing too much harm to the rodents or your home! For more information about rats and rodents of Arizona, you can read these 5 popular FAQ’s about Arizona rats

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