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ARMONK, N.Y. – More rodent pests are seeking refuge in New Castle homes this winter, local pest control agencies say, and Hurricane Sandy is the likely reason.
While mice and rats are becoming popular tenants in towns along the Hudson River, inland towns like Armonk have seen a big increase in squirrel invasions.
“Squirrels like to nest in hollow trees. So when Sandy knocked a good amount of those trees down, they tend to look elsewhere,” said Mickey Wright, owner of Mount Kisco-based Critter Control of the Hudson Valley. “A nice warm attic is usually one of the first places they look.”
Wright said squirrel calls have increased as much as 20 percent in the last three months compared to previous years and that Hurricane Sandy could be the cause. He also said that while rats and mice are more likely to be found in homes closer to water, inland towns have seen an increase in those as well.
“What happens is those guys get pushed inland to neighboring areas, so places like Chappaqua and Armonk have seen a rise there as well ... just not as much as squirrels,” said Wright.
Errol Fisher, president of Elmsford-based Citadel Pest Control, said: “We typically get calls for mice and rats at this time of year because they are fleeing into homes to get warm, but overall we’ve seen more than a 10 percent increase this year, especially after Hurricane Sandy.”
Wright said that even though it's possible Hurricane Sandy also helped decrease rat and mice populations, his company has seen a 10 percent 20 percent increase in calls this year throughout Westchester County.
“We had a very warm winter last year, so the populations of most animals, especially rodents, were way up this year before Hurricane Sandy,” Wright said. “Sandy had an impact for sure in bringing that down as it may have destroyed some dens. I don’t know that it would have permanently chased them out and into homes, but it’s possible that’s been a reason for the increase in calls.”
Fisher and Wright recommend several precautions to prevent rodents from entering homes. The first step is sealing up all holes that could lead into homes or garages.
While rattraps, glue pads and other rodent prevention merchandise is easily available, both said those methods are often ineffective.
“Placing traps is not that easy to do right and can be dangerous for little children and pets,” Wright said. “We get a lot of calls for live trapping, and that’s fine if the mice haven’t made dens in your home. But if they have, it’s very likely they’ll return in the next two days. Overall, trying to trap rodents yourself can be harmful, and bottom line it’s not effective.”