Once mice or rats have been removed from a home, chances are the area they occupied and damaged needs to be cleaned up professionally and thoroughly. Without performing proper sanitization and decontamination to an area of the home that was once infested by mice, a number if crucial and dangerous problems can and will arise.
The following article conveys a number of the problem situations that can occur (and usually do) if the sanitation and cleanup of a mice/rat infestation gets ignored and/or overlooked.
Note that the following scenarios don’t apply to 100% of all mice control jobs especially if the problem is caught and speedily dealt with, but that’s not usually the case especially considering mice can be quite stealthy and go unnoticed for long periods of time before they usually, accidentally make their presence known.
If you’ve been following our previous posts, you will have come across lots of information that points to what can happen to your home if a rat infestation goes unchecked and you’re probably aware of many of the potentially serious problems. If you’re not up-to-date on our posts, read on so we can explain the problems that can arise in full detail.
Before we continue, remember mice and rats breed like rabbits. They can give birth to babies up to 10 times a year and in each batch can have anywhere from 4 to 14 babies born. Keep this in mind as you read the following information so you can understand how each problem can be easily compounded – compounded by time elapsed and the number of mice that have can or have multiplied in your attic.
We’re not necessarily portraying the worse case, nor the best case scenario here but instead we’re just giving you the basic low down on what usually occurs.
Moisture and mold buildup
If the mice or rats have lived in your home or attic for only a few weeks, their left behind feces and urine excretions can contribute to imbalanced moisture settings in your attic, and can herald and spawn other various mold particles. They can also drag in lots of moisture if they’ve been outside during a rainy/snowy day; on their way back into your attic that moisture comes in with too and it further imbalances the moisture and ventilation in your attic – the exposure to constant moisture can turn your attic upside down. Decaying leaves and other organic refuse tracked in contribute to this decay process and are known to spawn various other forms of mold too.
By simply tracking in waste and refuse into your attic, it’s almost guaranteed that a mold problem has already started.
A common spore-associated with mice and rat infestations are mycotoxins which can a. pass through walls into common living areas easily, and b. are known causes of symptoms like pneumonia, asthma and other respiratory diseases.
There is also an airborne virus specifically related to rats and mice called hantavirus and according to Health Canada;
Humans are most often exposed to the virus by breathing in contaminated airborne particles. This can occur after sweeping or vacuuming infected areas. It is also possible to be exposed to the virus through rodent bites, if the skin is broken, or through ingestion. (source)
There’s much to be avoided and only professionals should be called in to do the job – that is for sure.
The bottom line is, a short period after an infestation has started, mold buildup in your attic will occur. After an infestation, testing for whether mold is present combined with a thorough disinfection of the areas in question are the next necessary steps.
Then there’s the issue where moisture brings in floods or puddles of water, urine and rat waste. This waste can quickly begin to build up and not only has the potential to contaminate other parts of the attic or home, (through cracks, through your ceilings) but can also travel down the drywall or anywhere else moister can get through. All that built up guck is a potential soup of sickness and disease originating from the mice or rats and it’s not something anyone wants to be in contact with; especially your kids and your pets.
In the picture above, we encountered a huge rat infestation, and if you follow this link, you can watch the video to see exactly what we mean about the importance of cleaning up after a mouse/rat removal job, but mostly the importance of understanding the extent of damage they can do.
Dead rats in your attic wreak havoc
The size of the rat, the temperature of the attic and the level of humidity in the attic will all hasten or quicken the dead rat problem. If flies and other insects are devouring on mice/rat carcasses it could take a few weeks for it to decay during which time strong gases are released into the air. These gases (smells) aren’t the easiest to remove and generally only a strong industrial cleaner will take the smell away. (we use a great green product cleaner)
The odor from a rotting mouse/rat body doesn’t disappear once the carcass is picked up and taken away either. Instead, the odor lingers for a few weeks on end. Getting rid of the smell can be quickened through setting up proper (or extra) ventilation points. Decontaminating an attic after an infestation of any sort generally requires wearing safety equipment that ensures the safety of the crew and hinders any cross-contamination. The fact that a crew of cleaners needs to wear protective clothing is a strong indication of the seriousness of this kind of predicament and why being completely aloof as to whether mice are living in your attic is a very big no-no.
It’s a sad fact but mice and rats don’t live forever and so it’s common that during an infestation inspection, our removal team will occasionally come across one or two (and sometimes more) dead carcasses.
If you watch the video from our explanation as to why pest control matters in Burlington, you’ll see an example of a dead rat stuck between the home’s bricks and siding of the home we were inspecting for mice and squirrels.
We’re not sure how he got stuck there but indeed he did. A dead mouse is definitely an eye-sore in that type of situation but most of the times they’re hidden away in the attic and not found until contamination clean-up is called in for service.
The image you see above is slightly grainy but if you look carefully, you can see the rat’s tail and it’s head. We aren’t sure how he ended up in this predicament but he and the rest of his buddies were removed. The entire attic was decontaminated as is the common procedure with this level of an infestation.
With dead rat and mice bodies hanging around, you can expect your summer to be filled with wondering why there are so many flies hanging around. When fly larva hatch by the thousands, we all know they need to eat and they also like to fly around their surroundings, which generally speaking is your home. You can place a bet that the flies you’re swatting away from your kitchen table had already been feasting on the remains of a dead rat. It’s not a nice picture we know, but how else can we stress the importance of rat cleanup and decontamination?
Cleanup and decontamination is highly important, and you’ll be glad to know that attic cleanup from wildlife and pests is a significant part of our removal process. Just say the word and our crew will get in there and ensure everything is cleaned up the right way.
Reconstruction of damaged areas
Mice and rats like to chew through almost anything if they have to get somewhere (like into another part of the home where they’ve found a source of food). Depending on the length of time they’ve lived in your attic combined with how much chewing they’ve done, the damage can go as far as causing the structure of your home or attic to be put in jeopardy.
We’re not saying major structural damage is always the result of mice damage, but we can state that it’s not that uncommon. Just one area of the attic for instance, that’s chewed out could actually affect the structural integrity of the whole home depending on where it is. This goes to show that cleanup is one problem, but reconstruction damage can be another!
The question really is “can you afford not to have an inspection for mice?”
Cross damage through chewing electronics/utilities
chewed a hole into her dishwasher water drainage line. Not only was she stressed out at the messy cleanup and sanitation issue but finding out her home insurance didn’t cover the damage done by the mice was her boiling point. With prevention methods originally set up, this wouldn’t have happened to her but the point is, the end result of damage like this is that the contamination needs to be cleaned professionally or else the problems we mentioned above will occur.
Rats don’t mind chewing through wires either, and if it suits their mission, they will chew straight through them with disregard to any damage it may cause elsewhere in the home. All the reasons mice chew through wires isn’t clear but we know they do, and we know they can cause a lot of problems if left alone to continue.
The reality: if you have mice, and you let them multiply (as quickly as they do) the issues we’ve mentioned above are bound to happen – it’s only a matter of time. According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs:
They [mice and rats] can be vectors for over 200 diseases, are responsible for greater than 25% of fires in rural farm houses and barns because of their propensity to chew on electrical wire. (source)
Various sources across the web including some government websites claim that at least 25% family home fires are started as a result of mice or rats chewing through wires. The earliest sign mice are in your attic or walls is when you see the lights in your home start flickering. This could be due to another issue, but it’s better to be safe than sorry in this situation – call in for an inspection.
Caved in ceilings from water (urine/elements)
We’ve reported about this in the past. Ceilings can end up caving in from the pressure of all the refuse the mice or rats are storing up. The problem is multiplied if the area is saturated with water and urine. We’ve entered many homes for pest control and found serious water (and urine) damage to ceilings in various parts of the home. Once the ceiling caves in the mess gets everywhere and sanitation becomes truly a horror.
The take home
We genuinely suggest that any homeowner reading this article, if you’ve never had a home inspection for pests and wildlife that you do call your local pest control company for an inspection and to set up prevention. The reason why is simple; when pests like rats, mice or any wild animal for that matter get in, they can go undetected for months and even years at a time and within that time usually do cause thousands of dollars of damage – damage to many difference parts of your home too. Like we’ve mentioned in the past, protecting your home can also save you from being sued by a future owner in the case that you ever decide to sell. Rats and mice damage insulation, drywall, eavestroughs, wood structures, wires, pipes, wallboard, cardboard, windowpanes, countertops, doors, ledges – the list goes on.
It may sound crazy but giving your home protection from pests and wildlife is exactly like getting insurance on your home and is an added benefit that will ultimately give you and your family true peace of mind.