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First it Was Squirrels on Our Roads, Soon it Will be Mice in Our Homes

  • Mammal Rodent Cute Mouse Animal Nager Nature

  • Mouse traps are one way to eliminate some mice from your home, but they won’t solve the problem, pest experts say. “Snap traps can be quite effective, but they are a Band-Aid. They will not solve the problem,” said James Byrne, owner of Expert Pest Control in Manchester.

Concord Monitor
Published: 10/7/2018 12:02:57 AM
Modified: 10/7/2018 12:02:57 AM

It may seem like we have just lived through “The Summer of the Squirrel,” but that isn’t the half of it. What’s really happening might be called “The Rise of the Rodents” — and they’re coming for your house.

“It’s been going on for several years. This year is busier for all rodents, but it has been increasing for years,” said Susan Lincoln, owner of Hampshire Pest Control in Northwood, N.H., since 1975.

The population of squirrels, chipmunks and mice has grown markedly and has been noticed by many people, mostly in the form of roadkill squirrels. With fall here, they’ll be looking for warm places to live, such as attics, basements and walls, and pest-control firms are noticing.

“We are getting literally bombarded with calls about mice. We’ve already started to get them now,” said James Byrne, owner of Expert Pest Control in Manchester, N.H., for three decades. “Once we get the first couple of frosts, forget it.”

Both Lincoln and Byrne expect a busier-than-usual fall handling complaints about rodents, especially mice, because things have already been busier than usual.

“Usually in the spring the mice are not as plentiful inside houses. This year, it was all different. People were experiencing a problem in their homes with mice when the mice should have been outside, doing their outdoor activities,” Lincoln said.

“It’s not just mice but rats as well, along with squirrels and chipmunks.”

Yes, rats.

“We have noticed it more with the rat population. We’re finding them in areas where they are not normally found ... when there are no farms or streams around or dumpsters,” Lincoln said.

Byrne echoed that sentiment.

“Rats are all over the place, in the country as well as the city,” he said.

Almost more common than usual are calls about squirrels — not just the big gray squirrels but smaller red squirrels and flying squirrels, too.

“Wish I had some scientific thing that said, “This is why it’s happening.” But I really do not know why,” Byrne said.

The problem began early in the summer, when gardeners started reporting loss of fruits, berries and vegetables to marauding rodents. By late summer, the state’s surfeit of roadkill had become front-page news throughout the region.

One apparent cause is a couple of abundant years in nuts, berries and other wild foods in the forests, especially acorns, according to wildlife experts This helped rodent populations thrive. The region’s drought in the first half of the summer then could have disrupted feeding patterns by rodents, sending them into gardens and buildings in search of food.

Populations of squirrels and other small mammals often rise and fall in cyclical patterns, and New Hampshire may be seeing some of that effect, as well.

What to Do

If mice or other rodents become a problem indoors, what can you do?

According to pest control firms, the key is to limit their ability to get indoors and kill those that do.

Limiting access is hard. Blocking off all the holes that rodents use to get inside is extremely difficult, especially when trying to keep out mice.

“They can get in through an opening a quarter of an inch wide. You can’t close off every single area, but certainly you can block areas that look like they’re being used,” said Susan Lincoln, owner of Hampshire Pest Control in Northwood, N.H.

As for killing them, mousetraps are a tried and true measure but they probably won’t do the whole trick.

“Snap traps can be quite effective, but they are a Band-Aid. They will not solve the problem,” said James Byrne, owner of Expert Pest Control in Manchester.

Pest control firms use poisoned bait to more thoroughly tackle the problem. This must be done with care, especially in a home where pets live.

David Brooks




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