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The "Big Four" Rodents: What You Should Know

What are the Big Four?

In Utah, there are four significant rodents we encounter most often. They are:

  1. Rats
  2. Mice
  3. Voles
  4. Gophers

These creatures are developed to get into your home. They are pervasive and determined, and there’s only so much you can do to control them. But they are not created equally. Here’s what you need to know about each species of rodent.

Rats

Rats are one of the creatures no homeowner wants to see scurrying around their home. (Unless it’s a pet, of course.)

Rats are not very particular about where they live. They can find content underground in sewers, crevices in an attic or basement, or even a dark corner behind a couch. They don’t care about the barriers in front of them but rather whether a space is warm and near food. That’s why cleaning up food droppings and crumbs is so essential. Deterrence is one of the best methods of defense.

A rodent infestation is not the same as squashing an ant you see crawling on the wall. Unless they show up in droves, you probably don’t think twice about that ant. Rats can carry disease and can even damage the structural integrity of your home.

Mice

Like rats, mice also don’t care much about the environment in which they take up residence. They are looking for food and shelter, and guess what: you have both.

Mice can also create a nest by burrowing in furniture or car seats. They’ll chew through wood, paper, wires, and cloth without a problem. Their droppings are small and will likely come in pieces near one another. Mice are also at risk for carrying disease and should not be ignored if found in a home.

Mice only need a small hole to enter a building, and they will squeeze and gnaw until it’s big enough for them.

Voles

Yes, vole, which is different from its similar-looking friend, the mole. They also look similar to mice and are sometimes referred to as field mice. According to PennState, the most significant identifier is tail length. Voles have short tails, and mice have long tails that are sometimes half their body length.

Voles can be five to seven inches long and are a bit chunky with short legs. Voles are known to gnaw at trees and tree trunks and have even been found creating extensive trails of burrows throughout crop fields.

The most significant difference between voles and mice is that voles are more interested in staying outside than coming in. So you’ll want to keep an eye out for them if you have any foliage or crops growing in your yards. You will likely find vole damage in the spring, as snow melts and you can see a criss-cross of runways that voles used to travel through the snow.

Gophers

According to Oregon State University, gophers are useful when in the wild. They aerate the soil, eat insects, and mix surface soil layers. When they enter farms and yards looking for a home or just dinner, they become a nuisance.

Gophers are known for burrowing underground, where they create complicated routes to move about the land. Their tunnels usually are found between four and 12 inches below the surface and can number in the hundreds. While it may seem harmless, these tunnels can interfere with underground roots, change irrigation patterns, and impact vegetative growth.

In Utah, the western pocket gopher is the most common. They feed on vegetation, including roots, grass, and leaves. They also tend to damage sidewalks, electric lines, poles, and more. They’re strong and persistent!

Utah’s Rodent Control Team

If you suspect a rodent has infiltrated your yard or home, call the experts at Guardian Pest & Lawn. We have extensive knowledge of Utah’s rodents and use effective methods of removing them from your home.

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