We’ve had a lot more flooding this winter than most, and it can impact the natural nesting areas of rodents, forcing them to seek higher ground including inside your home (particularly into “high ground” such as attics). Storm debris, cut tree trunks and limbs, and materials may become lodged in drainage ditches or along streams and can quickly become homes for displaced rodents, especially rats. Loosened soil around holes left by fallen trees create ideal burrowing sites. Damage to your home’s exterior can provide animals with easier access to sheltered areas, such as your crawlspace, basement, attic or even wall voids.
Watch for signs: Norway rats – they usually nest in underground burrows but in flooded areas, they will move to higher ground and may nest indoors. Roof rats typically nest above ground including in trees.
As soon as possible, clear debris around your home. Debris that cannot be removed from the site immediately, should be placed as far as possible from the building. When time and conditions allow, trim back lawns and overgrown vegetation near buildings to eliminate protective cover for rodents. Remove or contain potential food sources such as household trash, spoiled or discarded food, bird feed, or grass seed that might attract rats. Do not leave bowls of pet food outdoors overnight. They attract rats and other animals that can pose other problems, such as raccoons, skunks, and opossums.
Depending on their age and size, rats can fit through openings as small as a quarter-sized openings. Seal gaps around water pipes, utility line entry points, vents, crawlspace accesses and doors. Rodents can chew easily through foam and dried caulk to gain entry. Use sheet metal or 1/4-inch mesh galvanized hardware cloth to close large openings.