â€¦.thatâ€™s right,Â oh, rats!
Over the years we have had some interesting experiences in dealing with rodents. Rodents are very destructive to homes and are the carriers of disease. Unfortunately they seem to be everywhere in the communities where we work!
Often evidence of rodent infestation is noted in inspection reports relating to the sale of a home and well-counseled sellers are advised to attend to the situation right away.
House With a Rodent Infestation
We have many disgusting stories we could tell, but one in particular comes to mind.
We were once contacted about a property in Portola Valley, one of the hillside communities we serve. The executor of the deceased ownerâ€™s estate told us that the elderly owner had been placed in an assisted living environment prior to her death. During this time the home was unoccupied and a toilet had overflowed resulting in the floor rotting to the point that there was an open hole.
Unfortunately, this opening allowed for a rodent infestation, actually a rodent invasion! Their â€œevidenceâ€ was everywhere; the floors, the furniture, the counters were covered by urine and feces!
Health Danger Associated with Rodent Infestation
Unaware of the significant health hazard this posed, we politely walked through the property and recommended that a rodent abatement company be contacted to seal openings and clean the home. At a subsequent appointment, the rodent abatement company quickly pointed out the dangers of the hantavirus, a life-threatening disease carried by rodents, and recommended that no one be provided access to the property until it had been properly sanitized including removal and disposal of furnishings and wall to wall carpeting, and the access openings sealed. This was not a mere â€œindustrial cleaningâ€ due to the extent of the infestation! Given the overall condition of the home and the likelihood that the future owner would build a new home, the cost to complete this process was not warranted.
We wrapped the home in caution tape, did not allow access to the structure and provided lots of disclaimers and disclosures about the hazards of the hantavirus pulmonary syndrome! The property sold to someone who demolished the structure and built new.
Rarely is an infestation this extreme, but no matter the extent, the presence of rodents in a home is always a nasty problem! Based on our Portola Valley experience we are sensitive to the health hazards and the destruction that can occur in a home.
Signs of a Rodent Infestation
There is a saying, â€œI smell a rat!â€, and certainly when a rat dies at your house you will notice! The odor is intense and unforgettable! Rats and mice are nocturnal so you may not see them but here are some common signs associated with a rodent infestation:
- Urine pools or streaks
- Squeaking and other noises â€“ they will rustle around in the attic and wall cavities
- â€œGreaseâ€ marks around access openings to the house, such as foundation or attic vents
- Nibbling or gnawing marks on wires and wood. Their teeth are very strong!
Rodents have very poor vision they are known to urinate and defecate to create trails that they can follow. Rodent droppings may be the source of disease and when the droppings break apart they may release dangerous airborne particles that can be ingested and cause infection. Saliva and urine can also transmit disease.
When a homeowner becomes aware of the presence of rats or mice in their home it is a good idea to call on a licensed professional abatement company equipped to trap and remove the rodents and to properly sanitize your home to eliminate the odors to prevent a recurring infestation. In addition it is essential to find the openings through which the rodents gain access to your home.
Preventing a Rodent Infestation
Here are a few tips for preventing a rodent infestation:
- Check your home for unsealed openings. If any are found, caulk securely. Remember rodents have very strong teeth.
- Check your attic and foundation vents to make sure they are tight and secure.
- Check window screens for holes
- Make sure your trash and recycling bins are covered tightly
- Do not leave pet food outside
- Secure pet doors and keep other doors closed