My Mother Lode: Your doorbell rings, but no one is there. Perhaps your mother-in-law is lying on the door mat again, to be funny. (If she only knew.) Then you see the little suitcases lined up along the sidewalk.
It’s that time of year. The weather is changing and, like persistent relatives, there are small living beings that instinctively know that your home will be warm as winter moves in our direction.
Over-wintering creatures can easily get in, but not normally through the front door. House mice wiggle in through a quarter-inch space; roof rats squeeze through a half-inch space.
Evidence that you have unwanted guests includes droppings, fresh gnaw marks, shredded bedding, damaged materials, and partially eaten food. You might not see rats or mice during the day; they are shy and prefer to move at night. With rats, you might hear noises in the walls or attic. There will be remnants of nests in your little-used closets, garage, or woodpile. There may be garden damage. As soon as mice and rats discover your garden, they will set their sights on indoors.