ABC Blog

Rodent Identification Guide: What Pest Do I Have?

a house mouse

When you suspect you have a rodent problem, the first step is to identify what type has invaded your home. This is because different forms of rodents require different control strategies. Unfortunately, most homeowners aren’t experienced in wildlife identification and control. So, it’s often difficult for them to figure out on their own what kind of creature they’re dealing with. Nonetheless, there are some initial steps you can take to try to identify what kind of pest is in your home or yard.

Although there are many different rodent species out there, ranging from mice to porcupines, not every type of rodent will seek out your property. The most common types of rodents that can live in residential areas are house mice, Norway rats and roof rats. With these rodents, each type has some distinctive characteristics that stick out.

House Mice

As you can see in the image above, house mice are small … Read Full Post »

How to Keep Mice Out of Your Shed

a shed in a backyard that is infested with mice

Outdoor sheds are great sheltered places to store lawn care tools, empty pots and other gardening items. But, when your shed starts functioning as a warm, protected shelter for mice, it’s time to intervene. The first step is learning how to keep mice out of your shed. Then, you can take decisive measures to keep your property, including your shed, free of these rodents.

Mice are drawn to sheds, garages and other structures for the same reasons as rats and other wild animals. They are seeking shelter, which means a good place to nest and breed. In warmer months, mice might live quite happily outdoors. But, during the colder months of the year, adequate food and warm shelter are both in short supply. Fall and winter are when mice are most likely to move into your shed and other structures on your property. That said, they breed year-round and are also … Read Full Post »

Do Mice Come Out During the Day?

A mouse out during the day eating a piece of food

People often think that mice are only active at night because they usually spot them or hear them at night. In reality, you can see a mouse any time of day. Mice have just evolved to be more active at night because there are typically fewer dangers for them after the sun goes down. For example, in the wild, mice learned there were fewer predators out when it was dark, so this was the ideal time to go searching for food. This same principle can be applied to mice that are living inside your home. Once you turn off the lights and everyone heads to bed, including your pets, there’s a better chance for mice to find food and build their nests without putting themselves in harm’s way.

However, there are reasons that you might see a mouse out during the day. These rodents may be traveling to a place where … Read Full Post »

Signs of Rats: Identification and Control Tips

a rat coming out from underneath a deck

Have you noticed signs of rats living somewhere in your home, attic or garage? If you suspect you have a rat infestation, it’s unsettling—and trying to address it on your own can quickly lead to frustration, as you learn that setting out a few traps won’t be enough to resolve the problem. Like mice and other wild rodent pests, rats are opportunists. They are also wily, clever animals. They enter people’s homes (and other buildings on the property) in search of food and shelter. If they find an opening, they’ll use it to get inside. Rats are also prolific breeders, so if they have a chance to build a nest, their population can expand quickly.

You may notice signs of rats in your home, but you’re even more likely to find them in your attic, garage, shed or some other less-visited place on your property. Since rats are nocturnal, they’re most … Read Full Post »

Rats Won’t Go Near Traps: What Am I Doing Wrong?

a rat that is staring at a trap but won't go near it

It’s stressful enough to discover there might be rats in or around your home. It’s downright maddening to spend valuable time and money to set traps—only to find that the rats won’t go near your traps. If this kind of infuriating situation is happening to you, don’t panic. And know you aren’t alone. Rats are much more intelligent than many homeowners realize. For example, studies have shown that rats recognize when foods result in harm to another rat in the colony, and then actively avoid these foods in the future. They also notice when an object like a trap is a new addition to their environment, and they avoid it.

One way to get around this hurdle and convince rats to approach the trap is to trick them into thinking the trap is a safe object. Start by placing bait on your trap, but don’t set it quite yet. Once you … Read Full Post »

How To Identify a Rat’s Nest

Three dark-colored immature rats sleeping in a nest made of torn paper and other materials

Spotting a rat’s nest might be the first sign of an infestation in your home. But how do you know if what you’re seeing is the home of one of these hard-to-spot rodents, particularly if you don’t observe the rat itself? Rodents tend to nest in more protected areas that homeowners don’t usually frequent. In addition, different species of rats build nests that typically vary in appearance and can be found in different spots on your property. Generally speaking, a rat’s nest looks like a ball that is 4 to 6 inches in diameter that is loosely woven.

Norway rats, also called sewer rats or brown rats, are stocky rodents that often dig burrows in moist areas, such as under woodpiles or trash, along home foundations, fields or in gardens. They line these nests with fibrous materials, such as cloth or shredded paper. If these rats come into a building, they … Read Full Post »

Do Raccoons Hibernate? What You Need to Know

a raccoon climbing down a tree

Raccoons are highly intelligent and curious creatures that can live anywhere from your local neighborhood to a farm out in the countryside. They’re highly adaptable, which means they can survive on all types of food, including fruit, small animals, pet food and even random waste they find in your trash can.

Raccoons use their hand-like paws to get into all sorts of places that most animals aren’t able to access. These animals also use their five-fingered paws to examine and tear apart any food they find. During the fall, raccoons begin to eat as much as possible, which helps them build up an extra layer of body fat and a thicker coat of fur, so they can get through the winter.

While raccoons don’t technically hibernate, they can sleep for long periods of time, and they often hide in their dens when it’s extremely cold outside. Raccoons are also opportunistic, and they … Read Full Post »

How Do Mice Get in My Attic? Rodent Proofing 101

A mouse scurrying around in an attic

If you’ve noticed signs of mice in your attic—such as droppings, piles of shredded paper or insulation, scratching or squeaking noises coming from within the walls or actual mouse sightings—you’re probably wondering how the mice got there.

Mice, rats and other rodent pests normally get into attics, garages and homes through gaps in exterior walls that lead to interior spaces. Even a seemingly tiny gap around a dryer or bathroom vent, for example, can be a good entry point for a mouse, since mice can squeeze through holes as small as the size of a dime. Yes, you read that right! These creatures are incredibly well-adapted to contort their bodies to fit through extremely small holes.

The reason why mice infiltrate people’s homes is the same as that of any animal trying to get inside: They are seeking warm, dry shelter; food and water and a good place to build a nest … Read Full Post »

Do Possums Attack? Your Questions Answered

A possum bearing its teeth as if it was going to attack

Possums are undeniably odd-looking animals, especially when they’re feeling threatened. When they sense danger, their first response is often to hiss and bare their teeth. But, do possums attack? Consider this as a clue: When hissing and showing off that triangular-shaped mouth full of pointy little teeth doesn’t scare off a potential predator, the possum’s next move is the one responsible for the common phrase, “playing possum.” That’s right—when faced with danger, this creature rolls over, goes limp, closes its eyes and pretends to be lifeless. Not exactly the behavior of an aggressive, menacing attacker.

Possums are not known to attack. In fact, they are known to be quite gentle and docile, though pet owners do report dogs or cats getting into fights with possums. Like any wild animal, possums do their best to avoid being cornered. They are far more likely to flee or play possum than to use any … Read Full Post »

What Do Rats Sound Like?

A rat peering into a home from a crawl space

Unfortunately, there are a number of animals that can invade your home in search of shelter, water and food. And, many times, you’ll start noticing the signs of these visitors before actually spotting them. So, how can you determine if you have rats in your home, or something else? One way to differentiate between rats and other creatures is by listening to the sounds they make.

If you have rats in your home, you’ll likely hear several specific noises:

  • Scurrying sounds as rats travel from place to place
  • Thumps as they play or fight
  • Scratching and chewing as they eat and gather supplies for nests
  • Squeaks from immature rats coming from a nest

Most vocalizations occur outside of the realm of what a human is capable of hearing. Most audible sounds come from rats that are in a state of distress.

Where will these sounds originate? For most people, your attic. This can be disturbing, because we … Read Full Post »