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Vector control on keeping wee beasties at bay

While rodent-related service calls to Santa Clara County Vector Control are thus far lower this year compared to last – 955 between Jan. 1 and Nov. 24, 2019, versus 831 during that same period in 2020 – dropping temperatures associated with the fall and winter months present an incentive for opportunistic Bay Area denizens such as the house mouse, the Norway rat and the roof rat to seek shelter indoors. 

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Courtesy of Santa Clara County Vector Control
Hollowed-out fruit, like this orange, is a sure sign of rodent activity, according to Santa Clara County Vector Control.

The Town Crier spoke with Beverly Perez, Vector Control community resource specialist, last week to learn what local (human) residents can do to safeguard their homes.

Q: What risks do interactions with rodents pose to humans?
A: They carry ectoparasites, like fleas and mites. They do carry diseases that can be transmitted to you through their fecal matter and their urine. So it’s best to avoid having them near or around your home.

Q: What signs might suggest a rodent problem inside a home?
A: Crawling or running noises, especially during nighttime. Rodents like to eat fruits, especially citrus fruits. So if (people) have an orange tree and they have an orange that’s basically carved out from the inside with just the peel hanging, that’s definitely a sign of rodent infestation. If they find chewed wires or rub marks along cables or pipes. Rub marks look like dark shadows, like oil and grease, and that’s from them running up and down the pipes or the cables. So if they find these spots, these black rub marks, that’s also a sign of a rodent infestation.

Q: Is it possible the pandemic may affect the public’s awareness of rodents?
A: I think more people are working from home, so you tend to notice things that you didn’t before. So I do agree with that. Also, with some restaurants having shut down, those rodents would then seek food or shelter elsewhere, so that may also add to that.

Q: What steps does Vector Control recommend for anyone who suspects they may have a rodent problem?
A: Prevention is the best way to avoid a rodent infestation. So eliminating their shelter or their food source or their water source is the best way to prevent the problem. Don’t leave your pet food or water bowls outside because that does provide food and water for them – and that includes wildlife as well. Repair any damaged ventilation screens because that’s where they can gain access to your home. Make sure everything is sealed properly: openings around pipes or cables, that those are sealed properly as well. Fixing any leaky faucets would help eliminate their water sources. … Cleaning up bird feeders, the seeds that fall, and picking up any fallen fruit would also be a great way to prevent attracting rodents because rodents can then attract larger wildlife. So it just helps prevent all kinds of
issues.

Q: Does Vector Control maintain a position on rodenticide, pesticides designed to kill rats, mice?
A: We recommend no use of poison. Our staff can actually go out and provide a (free) home inspection and pinpoint attractants or points of access to the home and teach the public how to properly set up a trap to trap rodents. They can call the district office at (408) 918-4770 or they can also visit our website and submit a service request.

For more information, visit sccgov.org/sites/vector.

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