Can Rats and Mice Climb Up Gutters?
Pests find ways to enter your home in a multitude of ways. That includes rodents, which are intelligent and determined. You might be surprised to learn that mice and rats can climb gutters and enter your home from the roof.
There are ways that you can protect your home from these pests and prevent them from using your home’s gutters as a highway to travel. Understanding how they climb and why they do it will provide you with a foundation for combating them. That will prevent mice or rats from damaging your property and exposing your family to the diseases they can transmit.
Outside of humans, mice are the most populous urban mammal. These rodents can be small, with most species ranging from one to seven inches. They weigh between 0.5 to 1.0 ounces.
A mouse is intelligent, with a mind that works in similar ways as a human. That intelligence makes them problem solvers, as laboratory mice show as they navigate mazes or solve other problems. It also helps them as they explore, which is why they find surprising ways to enter your home or outlying buildings.
Physically, a mouse can jump high and at a distance compared to its body size. Mice possess claws that allow them to cling to verticle surfaces that are not smooth. These rodents communicate with sound and have a strong sense of smell, which aids them when looking for a way indoors.
Rats also infest areas where humans live. They can be as small as a mouse but are usually bigger. An average rat’s body measures 6.7 to 8.3-inches, with a tail length of approximately the same size (weights range from 3.4 to 8.5-ounces).
Rats are also intelligent problem solvers and are capable of figuring out more complex puzzles. That makes them a popular laboratory animal for experimentation and study. A higher intelligence makes them another difficult pest to keep from entering your home.
Rats can jump up to three feet high and four feet horizontally. These creatures are also excellent climbers, with claws that let them navigate verticle surfaces with minimal hand-holds.
What Type Of Damage Do Mice And Rats Cause?
To understand the potential damage rodents cause each year, look at agricultural production. Approximately 20-percent of all crops grown are destroyed or contaminated by rodents.
For property owners, mice and rats present issues beyond their yard or gardens. Rodents can easily damage your home or other outlying buildings, including:
- Building materials
- Stored items
Mice and rats are notorious for chewing building materials. If they can chew on it, then it becomes a target for use in building their nests. That can include woods, sheet goods, drywall, plastics, and roofing tiles.
Insulation is an easy target for rodents (including blown, rolled, and sheet insulation products). They can pull the insulation into pieces that make softer nesting.
Electrical wiring is not immune to damage from mice or rats. Rodents will chew on the insulation that protects wires and prevents them from shorting. Chewed wires can cause malfunctions and pose a fire danger.
Once inside a building, the furniture becomes a potential home within your home. Mice are known to burrow into cushions to build nests. The material can be used by rats as well.
Boxes, chests, and drawers are furniture targets, especially for mice. Once inside, the items rodents find useful get chewed while everything becomes contaminated.
Appliances become a refuge for all types of pests, including rodents. Dryers, freezers, refrigerators, and washers have plenty of hiding space. The items can stop working and may become dangerous due to things like electrical shorts.
Food is a target for mice and rats. Most species are omnivores, meaning that they eat meat and plants. Rodents have a good sense of smell and will target cupboards and pantries that contain stored foods.
What Type Of Contamination Do Mice And Rats Cause?
Rodents can contaminate surfaces your family uses for eating, sleeping, and moving. Mice and rats do more than making a mess; they also serve as a transmitter of diseases.
Objects become contaminated by rodent dander, hairs, urine, or feces. Mice or rats can also do this by cross-contamination as they move from one place to another.
Mice and rats also bite. That can be an issue with infants due to the smell of milk or formula. Rodents will bit you in a display of aggression or a defensive manner also.
Contamination or bites from rodents can be a problem because they carry a multitude of diseases. There are several, some of which are life-threatening:
- Rat-bite fever
The mice and rats are not the only concern. Fleas, mites, and ticks can travel with rodents. Many of these are happy to attach themselves to a human host.
Problems do not stop once a rodent dies. Dead mice or rats can be dangerous transmitters also.
How Do Mice And Rats Climb Vertically?
Both mice and rats have adaptions that allow them to climb trees, walls, and the gutters on your home. Rats tend to be better climbers, but mice climb well if there is plenty of support (such as where two surfaces meet).
- Dermal ridges
Phalanges are a fancy way of saying “digits” or “fingers.” Rodents have fingers that position to provide a hold on verticle surfaces. Mice or rats can grasp around items or splay open their fingers to contact surfaces while climbing.
The hands and phalanges are not smooth. They have dermal ridges that give their skin texture. That provides friction on vertical surfaces that rodents climb, allowing them to propel upwards.
Both mice and rats have sharp claws. These taper into a point that can be wedged in pours or latched on top of ledges. Rough or uneven surfaces provide enough texture for rodents to hold as they climb with their claws.
These creatures will use their tails to aid in climbing and jumping along vertice surfaces. Mice and rats use this appendage to push their bodies and as a balance. A rat’s tail is thick and rough as well.
Climbing a gutter exterior
Rodents often use the exterior of your downspouts to climb onto ledges or into existing holes on a building’s exterior. They will use the wall to wedge their bodies as they move. Seams and fasteners also present surfaces to cling onto as the mouse or rat climbs.
Climbing a gutter interior
Mice or rats will use the inside of a downspout similarly to the exterior. They can wedge against interior surfaces and use seams or fasteners as grasping points.
Interior debris, like leaves stuck to the wall, can be used to climb. It can also serve as a nest for smaller rats or mice. Rodents can also use their tails effectively in these confined spaces.
How Do You Stop Mice And Rats Climb Your Gutters?
- Limit exterior access points
- Block interior access points
Begin by removing food sources that will attract mice or rats to your property. Put trash bags in cans or bins that have lids. That will reduce the scent of food sources and make it harder to reach the trash.
Rake up leaves and other large debris from your yard. That provides fewer nesting locations for rodents and other pests. Remove boxes or items that mice or rats can use as a home.
Keep vegetation trimmed. Cut tree branches six or more feet from the house. Keep bushes trimmed away from the ground as well as the walls of any buildings.
Limit exterior access points
Keeping branches trimmed away from buildings prevents rodents from jumping. Eliminating vines will also reduce surfaces that rodents will use to assist in climbing gutters.
Install plastic baffles on wires coming to your home. Mice and rats use these to get to the roof and gutters on your property. Reduce hand-holds on the chimneys, siding, utility boxes, and windows next to downspouts.
Inspect the exterior of the gutters. Patch any holes that rodents can climb in. Attach loose downspouts that mice or rats might wedge between to climb.
Block interior access points
Use plastic or metal chicken wire across the bottom of the spout. You can use a variety of fasteners to hold it in place. The wire openings allow drainage while preventing mice or rats from entering the gutter.
You can also install this type of wiring along the top of the gutter system. That will prevent rodents from climbing down the gutter spout.
There are also specialized products that act as pest blockers for your home’s gutter system.