Squirrels and rodents may be cute when observed in nature, but most homeowners do not wish to share their home with them. These critters cause expensive damage to homes and even present health and safety risks to the occupants. It's important to be aware of how these creatures get in, how they survive, and how they can ravage your home.
These animals are very adept at letting themselves in. Squirrels have surprisingly strong teeth and claws, and they have been observed tearing holes in wood, vinyl siding, and even aluminum chimney caps. Rats and mice gain entry by squeezing through tiny spaces. A small mouse can fit through a hole the size of a pencil eraser, so it's important to inspect your home for any gaps that could allow them to squeeze in.
Rodents and squirrels reproduce very quickly under ideal conditions. Squirrels typically give birth to three pups at a time. Mice can drop even larger litters of up to 12 pups. This means that a lone animal can soon turn into a full-blown infestation if there is a reliable food source. If you frequently see signs of rodents in your home, it is likely that they are venturing out in search of more food to sustain their growing population.
While squirrels prefer a diet of wild nuts, they will feed on whatever is available. They may be attracted to your property by garden plants and food matter in the garbage. As a result, they will set up camp in your home in order to be close to the food source. Rats and mice are also adventurous eaters. They will gladly feed on whatever food scraps they can find around your house.
These furry pests are not a mere nuisance; they create conditions that could lead to a house fire. They often do this by tearing open an outdoor dryer vent cover and nesting inside of it. Nesting materials such as leaves and twigs could ignite when the dryer is in use. These creatures have also been known to chew electrical wires, which can cause nearby insulation to catch on fire.
Mice and rats in particular are known to carry a variety of serious diseases. They spread the pathogens by leaving urine and feces or biting humans. Hantavirus, tularemia, hemorrhagic fever, and the bubonic plague are just a few diseases that can be spread by these rodents. Squirrels spread disease as well; their fecal matter contains salmonella and leptospirosis.
There are a number of ways in which these critters can cause inconvenience, expense, and danger for homeowners. Fortunately, it's easy to thwart them once you learn their strategies. The more you know, the easier it will be to keep these creatures out in nature where they belong.