Washington State Rodents: A Comprehensive Guide.

How long do rodents live? What kinds of problems can they cause for households? What do they eat? How do they get into homes? And how can you get rid of them? Have no fear: our Guide to Washington Rodents is here to provide answers to those very questions and many more. 

Types of Rodents in Washington State

Mouse hiding underneath oven

While there are many types of rodents in Washington, these are the 4 that most often get into homes.

Deer Mice: This common mouse is relatively easy to identify: they are a brown color and approximately 5-8 inches in length. While they are commonly found in more rural areas and tend to avoid occupied residential areas, that doesn’t mean that they aren’t a problem. Less trafficked areas like a shed or pool house can be a prime target for deer mice – not to mention quieter parts of the home like basements, attics, and crawl spaces, especially in the cold winter months. Deer mice also:

– Have a heavy established presence in the Pacific Northwest
– Are attracted to food sources and safe, comfortable locations to nest (such as homes)
– Reproduce rapidly when left unchecked and will expand into new areas when population density gets too high
– Can reproduce every 3-4 weeks when breeding conditions are right, with 1-11 pups per litter

Once they’re in they can very quickly become problematic, spreading urine and mouse poop around, gnawing on wiring (a fire hazard), and possibly even spreading diseases like Salmonella and Hantavirus. 

House Mice: House mice are more difficult to spot than deer mice, and are much more likely to try and get into a home. 

– At only 2 1/2 – 3 3/4″ long they can easily squeeze through even the smallest of holes
– Leave behind waste, and can cause damage to homes through gnawing and scratching.

Roof Rats: Named for their excellent climbing skills that allow them to easily access the roofs of buildings, roof rats are dark brown or black in color with a lighter underbelly. Some more roof rat facts:

– Adept climbers and can fall indefinitely without risk of bodily injury like a squirrel
– Heavy established presence in the Pacific Northwest
– Up to 6 litters a year, with up to 8 rat pups per litter
– Dark brown or black in color with a lighter underbelly.
– Have long, thin bodies and can grow to between six to eight inches in length, with a long, scaly tail that can double their total length.

Norway Rats: Norway rats have an established presence in the Pacific North West:

– They are attracted attracted by both food sources and warm, comfortable locations.
– When left unchecked they can reproduce rapidly with up to 12 litters a year – each litter with up to 14 rat pups in it. 
– Norway rats aren’t agile climbers like Roof Rats are. Instead, they’ll enter buildings at ground level and can also burrow beneath structures (causing further damage) to get in. 
– They are brown or gray in color and have a shaggier appearance.
– They can grow up nine and half inches long.

What Do Mice and Rats Eat? 

There are a few things that will make a home attractive to mice and rats, and one of them is food. In the wild, rodents like mice and rats are attracted to grains, fruits and seeds – they have a carb-heavy diet. In domestic settings, mice and rats will seek out these types of foods, but they become much more indiscriminate. Rodents inside a home will eat basically anything. 

And what about the mice and cheese stereotype? They will eat it, but according to Pestworld they’d sooner go for foods like:

– Cookies
– Crackers
– Candy
– Grains
– Peanut butter

How Long Do Rodents Live?

Group of rats in home

Rodent life spans differ based on the type of rodent and the circumstances that the rodent is living under. In a home setting with warmth and food access mice can live around 2 years and rats can live over 2 years.

Mice can get pregnant 5-10 times a year and have an average of 6-8 mouse babies per litter and rats can get pregnant up to 7 times a year with 5-12 rat babies a litter, which equals up to 80 baby mice per female mouse a year and up to 84 baby rats per female rat each year. 

But mice and rats don’t just arrive in singles or pairs. While rodents typically live independently in the wild, when they live inside a structure like a home they will live in larger groups due to limitations on livable space and an overall easier access to food. That means you could have a group of rodents in your home that is having hundreds of rodent babies in your walls every year. 

That’s why taking measures to prevent or eliminate a rodent problem early on in the cycle of the problem is so important!

What Attracts Mice and Rats

Rodents are always on the lookout for safe shelter and easy access to food, which naturally makes Washington homes a prime target. Keeping your home tidy and free of easily accessible food is one essential piece to discouraging a rodent infestation, but even more important is sealing up any potential rodent entry points. Below is a list of some of the most common gaps in structural integrity in homes that allow rodents to get in.

– Cracks in the foundation.
– Uncovered chimneys. 
– Gaps around window frames. 
– Broken screens on windows or doors. 
– Gaps around ground-level doors.
– Flimsy aluminum soffits. 
– Plastic vent covers or dryer vents. 
– Holes found in roof eaves and rooflines. 
– Openings around plumbing, cables, and gas lines. 

Signs of Rodents 

Rats peaking out of cage

So far we’ve learned a lot about rodents, but what are the actual signs that you’re dealing with a rodent infestation? The most common signs, according to the EPA, are: 

– Rodent droppings around food packages, in drawers or cupboards, and under the sink.
– Nesting material such as shredded paper, fabric, or dried plant matter. 
– Signs of chewing on food packaging.
– Holes chewed through walls and floors that create entry points into the home.
– Stale smells coming from hidden areas.

If you notice one or more of these signs, contact a professional rodent control company ASAP so that they can treat your rodent problem and limit the damage they cause. 

Preventing Rodents 

Knowing the signs is important, but what about outright prevention? We have a few tips for that, too:

1. Routinely inspect your property– seal up any holes, gaps, or cracks as they develop, fix any leaky outdoor pipes, and review any concerns with your pest control technician. 

2. Be mindful of trash- Ideally, you should wait to take out your trash until your trash-pickup day or use containers with locking lids. For indoor trash, try to keep everything in a trash can with a tightly sealed lid, and be sure to clean up any food waste like crumbs, spills, and leftovers before you go to bed. 

3. Compost piles and gardens should be a distance away from your house and not right up against it. Compost piles and gardens attract rodents, and if they are rubbing up agains your home itself it will become all the more attractive to rodents interested in an all-inclusive stay at your home. 

Getting Rid of Rodents

If you are currently dealing with a rodent problem, you might think you can handle it on your own. It’s just a few dinky mice, right? Not exactly. Remember that rodents can reproduce very quickly, and while you may only see a mouse here and there, you could be dealing with a whole community of mice or rats in your walls. To safely and effectively handle a rodent issue, get in touch with the rodent experts at GoodMonsters. Our comprehensive rodent control process prioritizes getting rodents out and keeping them out, while also using the safest methods to ensure that you, your loved ones, and your property remain clean and safe. 

Looking for help with rodents? Just contact us here and we will take care of your rodent problem ASAP!