Cold weather sends rodents, particularly mice and rats, indoors — not to escape the cold, but to find food. Rodents have a fur coat to keep them warm, but when their outdoor food source starts to dwindle, they seek food in other places, such as a home or other indoor dwelling. In the mid-Atlantic region, the most common types of mice are deer mice and the most common types of rats are the Norway brown rat and the black roof rat. Mice and rats are both nocturnal. So, if you see a rodent during the day, that’s an indication of an infestation.

See how mice and rats differ in appearance and behaviors:


Mice build nests and like to do so in warm dark places, such as insulation or other soft materials. Mice have large ears and eyes for their smaller heads. Mice prefer grains, seeds, fruit and seeds as a diet but will eat almost anything. They are especially fond of bird food, so if you keep birdfeeders, make sure your unused food is kept in a rodent-proof container. Mice are burrowing animals and despite their furry round appearance, their skeletons are quite small and they are built to squeeze into tight spaces, as small as a dime. They will gnaw and chew their way to food and it is possible to spot them scurrying around during the day. Mice fear rats, and if they smell them they will leave.


The Norway brown rat grows to approximately 1 pound and the black roof rat tops out at 12 ounces. Rats’ heads are larger and their ears are smaller than mice. And while their species are similar, rats will kill and eat mice. Rats will eat practically anything, including non-food items such as plastic and rocks. They can enter a space as small as the size of a quarter. Rats need food, water and shelter to survive, which could be in or near your home. And, if you see one rat there are likely more that you don’t see.


Black Rat

Black Rat

Health Risks and Diseases

Mice and rats are dirty rodents and their urine and feces carry germs and diseases that you don’t want in your home. This is especially dangerous if you have rodents that are in your pantry, or in your kitchen, near food sources. The more recognizable diseases carried by rodents include the Bubonic Plague, Hantavirus – a dangerous respiratory virus – and Salmonella. All can be deadly if not caught and treated properly.

Another health risk associated with mice infestations is an allergic reaction to the fur and waste. According to a 2004 study conducted by the National Institutes of Health, 82% of homes (from a sample of 831 homes) in the US were reported to have mouse allergens. These allergens were found in dust in the homes.

Some sanitation rules include:

  • Dampening rodent droppings before picking them up to prevent fungal spores from becoming airborne.
  • Wearing a mask when you clean rodent droppings.
  • Disposing of any food around where you’ve found evidence of a rodent.
  • Sanitizing the area where droppings have been found.

Signs of Infestation

Some noises are indicative of rat and mice activity, such as clawing, or gnawing on wood or plastic. These sounds can reverberate on concrete. If you have rodents in your attic, you might hear scratching, gnawing and clawing sounds as they make a nest. If you have horses, or other outdoor animals and store their food in a garage, shed or barn, you might notice that bags are being gnawed through or there are droppings around the vicinity of the food. They can damage the insulation in your home and even damage wiring in the walls. You may see rub marks, places that the oil from the fur of rodents have rubbed against baseboard or points of entry. If you see droppings or hear chewing or scurrying, chances are you have an infestation.

Call in the Professionals

Rodents can pose serious risks if they are in your property. Our trained staff knows how to locate entry points and can walk you through your house to show you how to keep it rat and mouse free.  If you find evidence of a rodent infestation, call Triple S Services to schedule your free inspection and evaluation right away. 800-457-3785.

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