How Rodents Thrive Through The Pittsburgh Winters

How do rodents like rats thrive throughout Pittsburgh winters? Our entomologists explain and provide 6 simple tips to protect your home or business!


Comedienne, Lily Tomlin, once said that the problem with the rat race is that even if you win, you are still a rat.

Of course, she was talking about humans clawing to reach the top of the ladder of success in business and not the rodents that invade our nightmares and are vectors of serious disease.

Still, not such a sobering fact is that for every rat you see, there are many more lurking somewhere nearby, and statistics indicate there is a rat for every person living in the United States. (Truly the gift that keeps on giving!)

Derived from the Latin verb, rodere, meaning to gnaw, rats and mice have similar behavioral characteristics.

They are comfortable having constant contact with vertical surfaces, which is why they run along walls and between objects.

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They have poor eyesight, but highly astute senses of taste and smell. Both share a keen perception of touch, which is aided by sensitive whiskers and guard hairs on their bodies. 

Pest-control and pest-management companies have their hands full dealing with rodents at this time of year when the cold breath of winter lies just around the corner.

This is because rats seek shelter from the elements, and along with mice, have been invading warm homes and decimating human food sources for centuries. Structures, homes, warehouses, barns and office buildings are dry, warm and perfect shelters.

Food sources become scarce in the wild as the weather turns colder, and rodents begin to seek extra food and stockpile sources because they cannot hibernate and fatten themselves up during the colder months of the year. 

How Rats Survive Through Winter

Rats get through the winter by burrowing under floorboards, chewing through electrical cables, climbing up drain spouts, and squeezing under doors.

Rats can and will eat anything they come across, and they maintain their food stockpiles throughout the winter, often incorporating them into their nests. Burrows helps to keep rats warm in freezing temperatures.

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They are usually dug under or against a rock, wall or fence. Rodents do not spend all their time inside their burrows or humans would never see them.

They much prefer indoor shelter where they can feed upon insulation, utility lines and dry wall, among other things. Nesting locations are far more important than the materials that comprise them.

Winter nests must be free from notice by both humans and other predators if they are to serve as aids for survival during the colder months of the year.

Rodents are smart, creative and true opportunists when it comes to finding ways to outlast and outthink the ravages of winter. 

A Few Relevant Statistics

The numbers are alarming. A female mouse gets pregnant about five to ten times annually and can give birth to litters with numbers ranging from 3 to 14 pups.

This add up to on average, at least 32 to 56 pups per year from just one mouse. Female rats usually have six litters per year with 12 pups, although the average is more like 5 to 10.

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They reach sexual maturity at about 5 weeks of age, which means that a rat population can increase up to about 1,250 pups per year!

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), rodents are responsible for 20 to 25% of all fires of unknown causes.

A recent survey conducted by NFPA concluded that 29 million Americans have experienced a rodent problem in their homes, and that annually rodents invade about 21 million private residences.

Twenty four percent occurs in attics and garages; 50% in kitchens; 27% in basements; 22% bedrooms; 25% living rooms and 9% elsewhere. Forty-five percent of all rodent infestations occur in the fall and winter months of the year.

6 Simple Rodent Prevention Tips

Our pest-control and pest-management specialists at Pestco recommend the following proactive tips to prevent the ingress of rodents into your unsuspecting home.

Check them out and fix what you can!

Seal Outside Cracks and Holes

Due to the fact that mice and rats are quite adept at squeezing through very small cracks, it is best to close off any you may find that provides an opening larger than 1/4 inch.

While you are at it, check window screens, repair any tears, and seal off any cracks in walls or foundations with wire mesh.

If you are a home owner with a chimney, add a cap to it because rats and mice know how to climb.

Keep Branches And Shrubbery Trimmed Away From The Home

Plants, shrubs and trees can serve as natural bridges for rodents seeking entry into your home or attic via the roof.

Elevate Firewood

It is recommended to store firewood at least 20 feet from the home ,as it serves as a haven for rats and mice. Elevate logs at least 18 inches off the ground.

Store All Food Stuffs In Sealed Containers

Make sure all food (including pet food) is stored in plastic containers, and monitor exposed surfaces for food residue and crumbs. Do not overlook not so obvious spots such as: under the fridge and other appliances.

Install A Brush Strip

This will block off small gaps in the base of exterior doors. Use adhesives instead of screws for easier installation. It is also an economical option because it helps to keep heat inside the home.

Store Boxes Off The Floor

This will eliminate an otherwise perfect hiding place. 

Call Pestco For The Very Best In Pittsburgh Rodent Control!

Family owned and operated, we have been part of the Pittsburgh landscape since the late 1940s, and our mission over the course of the last almost eighty years has remained unchanged —

It is to provide experienced, responsive and uncompromising pest control and pest-management services to all of our loyal customers.

Pestco Professional Services team

Although the focus of rodent control is always prevention, if there is an infestation, our treatment plan involves a balance between baiting and trapping and environmental strategies.

If you are a Pittsburgh homeowner and fear rats or mice have somehow gained a foothold  inside your home or on your property, call our teams and rest easy that we will always find a workable solution!


Photo Credits: Pixabay


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