Picture this: you’re lying in bed late at night when you hear the subtle sound of scratching and rustling within your walls. In addition to the chewed wires and the odd dropping or two, it’s just the latest sign of a problem you’ve been avoiding. After all, how much damage can a couple of tiny mice cause?
Sticking your head in the sand and ignoring the common signs of a rodent infestation won’t do you any favors! In this case, what you don’t know will hurt you.
Instead, it’s time to seek professional rodent control in Boca Raton, FL. Rodents may be relatively small, but they can cause some major damage throughout your home. Worse, these pests create some significant health risks, from spreading diseases to increasing the risk of mold growth.
If you suspect that rodents have entered your home, here are a few hidden dangers you’ll want to be aware of.
One of the most obvious risks of any rodent infestation is contamination. Rodent droppings, urine, and even saliva can contaminate any object or surface they touch. This can pose a serious health risk for anyone in your household.
Contaminated Food and Water
As they create nests and begin to breed, rodents need access to more and more food – which they may get from within your home. According to most estimates, rodents contaminate or consume a whopping 20% of the food supply worldwide.
Rodents may chew through your food packaging and containers to get at the contents within. This may include both human food as well as pet food for your dog, cat, or even birds or fish.
Though few homeowners want to waste food, disposing of anything rodents have gotten into is crucial to prevent the spread of diseases. The FDA recommends inspecting and throwing away any foods that you suspect rodents have touched.
Dishware and Cutlery
While you’re inspecting your food, don’t forget to take a hard look at your dishware, cutlery, and any food-prep surfaces like cutting boards throughout your kitchen. These items are especially attractive when they’re sitting out overnight covered in food residue.
If rodents have come into contact with dishes and other food-related items in your kitchen, make sure to wash them well. If you can, use a dishwasher to benefit from the high-heat washing and disinfecting cycle.
Even if you haven’t noticed rodents in your kitchen, they may still have contaminated your home. Many diseases that rodents carry will travel in the air you breathe, often through tiny droplets and airborne particles.
If you suspect that you have an infestation, the CDC recommends that you air out your property by opening all of the windows and doors. However, don’t vacuum your home! This can spread airborne particles.
You may need to contact an expert for duct cleaning if you think the rodents have crawled into your HVAC system.
We never recommend trying to capture or get rid of rodents on your own. This is because rodent bites and scratches, even shallow or small ones, can be damaging to your health.
First, the good news: small rodents are not known to transmit rabies to humans.
The bad news is that rodents still carry other problematic diseases in addition to common infections.
If a rat bites you, be sure to clean, disinfect, and bandage the wound right away. Experts also recommend seeking a tetanus shot after a rodent bite if you’re not up to date on your immunizations.
If you notice symptoms like muscle aches, headaches, vomiting, joint pain, rashes, or a fever, seek medical treatment. This can be a sign of a dangerous disease that rats transmit through bites and scratches, aptly called “rat-bite fever.” You can also get this disease if you come into contact with a rat’s saliva, droppings, or urine.
Symptoms may crop up with a slight delay after an infected rat bites you, sometimes up to three weeks, so stay alert. Rat-bite fever is easy to treat, often with antibiotics, though it’s important to get an early diagnosis.
We’ve talked a lot about the effects of contamination in your home, but it’s a good idea to be aware of the diseases a rodent infestation can cause. Here are some of the most common diseases caused by rodents:
We often associate salmonella with infected foods, but it’s worth remembering that animals can also cause the infection. People who get sick from salmonella may have a fever, stomach cramps, or diarrhea. Most people won’t need treatment to recover, but a severe enough infection might require antibiotics and hospitalization.
This viral disease can spread in multiple ways. Breathing in contaminated dust, coming into contact with rodent urine or droppings, or getting bitten by a rat will do it. This disease can become life-threatening and has no known cure or vaccine.
One troublesome variation of this disease is hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS). With HPS, you might notice flu-like symptoms, fever, and fatigue.
Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that humans can get via infected water. It can cause a wide range of symptoms, from a high fever to vomiting. An antibiotic regimen can help treat it with an early enough diagnosis.
Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis (LCM)
LCMV is most often found in the common house mouse. Its symptoms include vomiting, headaches, and muscle aches.
In its second stage, it can cause neurological issues with symptoms related to meningitis, encephalitis, and meningoencephalitis. In other words, serious risks of brain inflammation and motor abnormalities may result.
Rodents, rabbits, and hares are among the most common carriers of tularemia, a serious and life-threatening infection. Humans can get infected by handling a rodent or by drinking or eating contaminated substances. Parasites from rodents may also carry tularemia.
As if the diseases above weren’t enough to make your stomach churn, rodents can also carry harmful parasites. Worse, these parasites come with a host of diseases of their own!
Flea infestations are more than a tiny nuisance. They’re also terrible for your health.
If the rodents in your home carry fleas, you may start to notice flea-related dermatitis and other forms of skin irritation. Fleas will also affect any family pets, so be on the lookout for excessive scratching in your furry friends.
In addition, fleas transmit hazardous conditions. This includes everything from flea-borne typhus to tungiasis. They can even transmit tapeworm larvae in certain conditions!
These tiny critters are also responsible for the plagues that killed millions of people during the Middle Ages. These plagues still exist today, and rodent infestations put you at a greater risk of dealing with them in your home.
You may be smart about avoiding ticks when you’re outside, but are you as cautious in your own home? When you have a rodent infestation, any ticks biting a rat or mouse can easily move to a human host.
Ticks are responsible for many debilitating pathogens. The CDC lists over a dozen harmful tick-related diseases, including Lyme disease and tularemia. Even if they don’t transmit a disease, ticks can also put you at a greater risk of a bacterial infection at the bite site.
A serious mite infestation can become as bad as bed bugs. As they reproduce in your home, these tiny parasites may make a meal out of humans instead of the rodents they’ve traveled on.
Mites don’t spread diseases like the parasites above, but these tiny critters can cause itchy, red bumps on your skin. Like bedbugs, they’re most likely to bite you while you’re asleep. They’re also difficult to get rid of, especially if you haven’t yet dealt with your rodent infestation.
In addition to the rodent health hazards above, a nest of rats or mice can wreak havoc on your home. Nothing is safe from their gnashing teeth, whether indoors or outdoors!
With enough rodents gnawing away, the damage can impact the structure of your home. In the worst-case scenario, it can even render your home unlivable. Here are a few reasons why rodent structural damage can become a nightmare:
Inviting Other Pests
As if one type of pest wasn’t enough, structural damage can invite more pests. When rats chew holes in your walls, floors, or attic, they’re creating tiny entryways through which other animals can crawl. As your rodent infestation grows, these holes may become bigger, allowing larger critters like squirrels or raccoons to squirm through.
Damaging the Foundation
If rodents burrow into your home through the ground, your property’s foundation may be at risk. With larger nests of rodents, the branching tunnels can become extensive.
This can cause the ground to shift and settle under your home, putting more pressure on your foundation. If you start to notice common signs like stuck windows, cracks in your walls, or uneven floors, you may need to seek foundation repair.
Attracting Moisture and Mold
Moisture is bad news for your home. That’s why your roof, siding, and other protective coverings are designed to keep rainwater at bay. Once rodents have gnawed through those shields, it becomes easier for moisture to creep into your home.
As it builds, moisture may cause premature warping, buckling, or rotting within your home. This can cause sagging ceilings or floors, deteriorating walls, and other forms of structural damage.
On top of this, moisture creates a breeding ground for mildew, fungus, and mold. As they grow, these organic substances can become a serious health hazard.
Mold in particular can cause a flare-up of allergies, asthma, and other respiratory conditions. They can also cause severe reactions like fever, shortness of breath, headaches, and other symptoms.
Beyond the overall structure of your home, rodents can pose a serious threat to your electrical wiring. As they seek shelter in dark corners of your home, they may chew through wires to get further in.
This can lead to a range of frustrating issues such as flickering lights, fraying wires, power fluctuations, and malfunctioning or failing appliances. You may also notice that you’re heading to the breaker box more often to deal with a tripped breaker.
Beyond frustration, electrical damage can become a safety concern. A compromised electrical system boosts your risk of a house fire. If you notice sparks or a burning smell, contact an electrician right away.
Other Property Damage
Though structural and electrical damage can create the biggest health hazards for your home, rodents won’t stop there. All of your belongings are at risk, provided that rats want to get into them!
They may chew through your home’s insulation to gather material for their nests, for example. This can make it harder for your home to stay warm or cold as needed, and the lower energy efficiency can translate to higher energy bills.
Rodents may chew through upholstered furniture to seek soft materials as well. They’ve even been known to chew through the seats of a car!
Rodents will dig into any area of your home, though they’re most likely to seek out unused areas. This means that the valuables you’ve stored in your attic, basement, or garage may be at risk. From family photos to valuable artwork to crucial documents, rodents can get through it all.
Don’t forget about the damage to your landscaping! Rodents will eat flowers, roots, and vegetables, which can turn your blossoming garden into rows of stunted or dead plants.
Get Rodent Control in Boca Raton, FL
Rodent infestations are not something you should ignore. Rats and mice can cause serious damage to your health and home, and that damage only grows as the infestation does. That’s why it’s crucial to get professional help as soon as possible.
If you’re worried about any of the hazards above, contact the team at Prodigy Pest for rodent control in Boca Raton, FL. As the trusted pest control service throughout the area, we’re proud to offer rodent deterrent and extermination services to homeowners. Whether you’re dealing with our local Florida palm rats or another species entirely, we’ll take care of your home while offering our customary 100% satisfaction guarantee.
To learn more, text us at (941) 567-4225 for a free quote or fill out our online form.