Nine species of rats and mice live in West Virginia. The house mouse and Norway rat are common invaders of local residences. Both adapt well to living among humans and are happy to take up space in and under your home. Rats and mice rely on their sense of smell, which is quite powerful, to help them find food. They don't typically travel more than 300 feet from their nests, so you can follow them to their nests if you see mouse or rat droppings along baseboards, under appliances, or on countertops.
Rat and mice damage includes gnawed electrical wires, carpets, cabinets, baseboards, and furniture. They gnaw on every type of material because their teeth never stop growing. Their incisors can grow as much as five inches in a year and be painful if not filed down. Gnawing keeps rodent teeth short and pain-free. In addition to gnawing, Norway rats like to burrow underground, specifically under your home. Burrows create gaps in soil that lead to unstable foundations. If you notice your driveway or sidewalks cracking, it may be due to rat activity.
Rodents have no problems entering a home that is not adequately sealed. Mice can fit through a hole the size of a dime, and rats through holes the size of a quarter. If they are denning in your attic or walls, rats will build nests from insulation, drywall pieces, and anything else they find. You will likely hear them scratching, clawing, squeaking, squealing, and rummaging. Rats and mice usually enter the kitchen and pantry, contaminating expensive groceries.
The biggest threat to your home is the ability of rats and mice to reproduce. These animals give birth to a new litter seven or more times yearly. With each delivery, an average of six pups are born. Females are ready to reproduce three months after birth, meaning the number of rodents will continue to grow at an alarming rate. Rats and mice do not live alone. If you see one, you must figure out if you have one family or ten or more living in your home.
Because rats and mice carry diseases and mold spores can grow on their feces, making it harmful to humans if inhaled, call the wildlife experts for help removing them. They know how to set the correct traps and bait for each species, which can differ greatly. They also know where to place traps based on rat and mouse behaviors.