Rodents invade Phoenix-area homes as cooler weather moves in

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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

Cooler and wetter weather is bringing some unwanted guests into Valley homes.

"When we put on jackets, basically, is when they like to enter," said Brad Olsen with Urban Desert Pest Control.

According to Olsen, roof rats, Norway rats, pack rats and mice are all looking for a warm place to stay, as Valley temperatures drop into the 50s. In response, they're moving indoors. A house with the gap the width of a thumb is big enough for a rat to enter, and the width of a pinkie is big enough for a mouse to enter.

"They have no boundaries. They just go wherever they want to go," said Peggy Mertz of Peoria.

Mertz has lived in her home for 12 years.

"I have not ever been in a place where rats were an issue. It's something like you've seen on television, but not in your yard," said Mertz.

Only recently, things got ugly.

"We came out one morning and the rug was literally shredded," said Mertz.

Mertz also found mats, umbrellas and succulents chewed up. Worried the rodents would move indoors, she called Olsen for help.

Olsen recommended closing off any gaps around the home.

"Where your pipe fittings come in, your air conditioning unit," said Olsen.

He said homeowners who decide to only use traps or bait to catch the rodents, are just putting a Band-Aid on what could become a bigger problem.

"They leave pheromone trails for other rodents to follow, so you might take care of the one or two that's [sic] in the structure, but a year later, another rat goes by, it catches that pheromone trail, and it'll literally gain access to the same point that the other ones were," said Olsen.

Olsen also suggested clearing any clutter around the home, like woodpiles, sheds and garbage cans. This is where rodents like to nest when the weather is warmer. 

Olsen even made a startling discovery in Mertz's barbecue.

"He looked in the bottom part first, there were droppings down there, and I grossed out over that," said Mertz. "Then, he opened the lid and all inside where the drip pan is, were all these droppings."

Olsen suggests those who find rodent droppings to starve those critters out by removing any food sources, like bird seed, grass seed, citrus, pet food and table scraps in the garbage. Wear a mask and spray the area with bleach before sweeping away the mess.

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