Common Winter Rodents: Identifying and Preventing These Furry Pests
Insects aren’t the only pests overwintering in and around our homes. During the cold winter months, many mammals go into hibernation. Not these furry pests. Whether they’re invading your home and getting into your food or they’re wreaking havoc on your lawn outside, winter rodents can be a real problem. Here in New Hampshire, we have four common winter rodents to watch out for during this frigid season.
Common Winter Rodents Inside
The freezing temperatures of winter force many rodents to seek out warmer shelter. For mice, this often ends up being our homes. With a sturdy structure to protect against the elements, cozy spots to hide in, and unlimited food and water, your home is the perfect home for mice.
Here in New Hampshire, the two most common mice to be found indoors during the winter are the house mouse and the white-footed mouse. The house mouse is gray with a pointed, pink nose. At 2-3 inches long, the house mouse is a tiny pest. The white-footed mouse is a bit bigger, at 6-8 inches long. This big-eared and big-eyed mouse has white feet (as the name suggests) and a white underbelly. These common winter rodents take up refuge in the walls, ceiling, attic, basement, or under the cabinets in the kitchen. They need easy access to food and water so the kitchen is a common place to find them. Be on the lookout for the telltale signs of a mouse infestation.
Common Signs of Mice in the House
- Chew marks on boxes, paper products, and in the pantry.
- Evidence of food tampering.
- Nesting materials.
- Small droppings.
Rats are also common winter rodents that tend to find their way into our homes during the frigid winter months. In New Hampshire, we have the Norway rat and the roof rat, both of which have been known to infest homes, especially in the winter. Rats are known to carry dangerous and deadly diseases, making home pest control essential.
Rats are much larger than mice. The Norway rat, also known as the brown rat, can reach 20 inches in length, including the tail. It has brown or gray fur with small eyes, small ears, and a slanted nose. The roof rat, also known as the black rat or house rat, can get up to 15 inches long, including the tail. It has black or brown fur, big eyes, big ears, and a pointed nose. Because rats are larger pests than mice, they require access to a lot of food. Rats are usually discovered in attics, basements, walls, floors, in the kitchen pantry, and under kitchen cabinets.
Common Signs of Rats in the House
- Grease marks against walls along the rat’s path.
- Signs of chewing on boxes and insulation.
- Rounded rat droppings.
- Sounds, like scratching and squeaking, in the walls and ceiling.
- Nesting material.
- Evidence of snacking in pantries and cabinets.
Common Winter Rodents Outside
Our home isn’t the only place affected by these common winter rodents. Voles love to take advantage of the snow cover to turn the lawn into their own personal buffet. These tiny rodents can be between 3-9 inches long and are voracious eaters.
During the winter months, voles chew through the grass under a blanket of snow. When the snow melts, you may find a large network of intersecting paths of clipped and chewed grass. These vole runways can be a large, sprawling eyesore in the spring, but rarely results in permanent damage. They save the permanent damage for the trees. Voles have been known to girdle trees. This means they chew a strip of bark from around an entire tree. This damage cuts off the top of the tree from the water and nutrients being absorbed by the roots. Without access to water and nutrients, the tree can eventually die. For such a little pest, voles can cause immense damage.
Vole damage can be prevented with strategic fall lawn care and maintenance. Continue mowing the lawn until the grass has completely stopped growing. Long grass is a favorite hiding spot from these vulnerable winter rodents. Trim the branches of your trees and shrubs close to the ground and remove all leaves and lawn debris to eliminate popular vole hiding spots.
Finally, there are the infamous moles. Though they are not rodents, they are an important furry winter pest to be aware of. Moles do not hibernate during the winter. In fact, moles stay very active during these cold months. In New Hampshire, we have 3 common moles that affect our lawns, the eastern mole, hairy-tailed mole, and the famous star-nosed mole. It’s very rare to see a mole above the ground, as they live out the majority of their lives in their subterranean tunnels.
Moles, contrary to popular belief, do not eat plants or roots. Instead, moles feast on worms, grubs, and any insects they find in their tunnels. Typically, mole tunnels are fairly shallow, with sporadic mounds of earth throughout the lawn. During the winter, when the ground is frozen, moles dig deeper underground. These sprawling networks of underground tunnels disrupt and damage grass roots, resulting in patches of damaged grass on the surface.
Mole prevention can be done by eliminating popular food sources for them. The 7-Step Lawn Care Program from Alliance Landscaping includes effective grub control, eliminating one of the mole’s favorite snacks, and making your lawn less hospitable to moles.
Protect Your Home and Lawn From These Common Winter Rodents
The best way to protect your home from common winter rodents, like rats and mice, is with interior pest control services from the experts at Alliance Landscaping. We can also help prevent moles by eliminating the grubs from your lawn with our 7-Step Lawn Care Program. Give your home and lawn all the protection it needs from these winter pests, with services from Alliance Landscaping.
To find out more, call us at (603) 704-4230. For the latest updates on our current news and offerings, follow us on Twitter and Facebook. If you need more tips on pest control, lawn care, tree care, or more.