MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. – Hurricane Sandy caused flooding and power outages throughout Mount Vernon, and local pest control agencies said it also could be causing pests like mice and rats to invade homes near the Hudson River.
Pest control agencies in Westchester and the Hudson Valley said calls have increased 10 to 20 percent in the past three months compared to previous years, and that Hurricane Sandy could be the cause.
Many rats and wild mice live near abundant food sources like lakes and rivers, according to Critter Control of the Hudson Valley. While it is difficult to track their patterns, it is likely that many rats and mice fled the Hudson River when it flooded during Hurricane Sandy, said Errol Fisher, president of Elmsford-based Citadel Pest Control.
“We typically get calls for mice and rats at this time of year, because they are fleeing into homes to get warm, but overall we’ve seen more than a 10 percent increase this year, especially after Hurricane Sandy,” he said. “When they are displaced from their homes that are in close proximity of the water and it floods, they can move up into homes to try and survive.”
Mickey Wright, owner of Critter Control of the Hudson Valley, said it is possible that Hurricane Sandy also helped decrease the rat and mice population along the river. Wright noted that the company has seen an increase in calls this year throughout the county.
“We had a very warm winter last year, so populations of most animals, especially rodents, were way up this year before Hurricane Sandy,” he said. “Sandy had an impact in bringing that down, as it may have destroyed some dens. I don’t know that it would have permanently chased them out and into homes, but it’s possible that has been a reason for the increase in calls.”
Fisher and Wright recommended that residents take several precautions in preventing rodents from entering their homes. They agreed that the first step in prevention is sealing up all holes that could lead into homes or garages.
“It’s very important that this is done well, because a mouse can fit into a hole the size of a dime, and mice and rats can both chew softer materials to make bigger holes,” Fisher said. “The most effective and humane method of preventing rodents is sealing up all cracks and holes so they can’t get inside.”
While rat traps, glue pads and other rodent prevention merchandise are easily available, both agreed that those methods are often ineffective.
“Placing traps is not that easy to do right, and can be dangerous for little children and pets,” Wright said. “We get a lot of calls for live trapping, and that’s fine if the mice haven’t made dens in your home, but if they have, it’s very likely they’ll return in the next two days. Overall, trying to trap rodents yourself can be harmful and bottom-line, it’s not effective.”