Cold winter months mean less food availability for rats and mice in their natural habitats. It is a known fact pest rodents are more likely to enter people's homes in their search for food and shelter at this time of the year. Flooding in some areas may also make rats and mice move on to find new places to live closer to man. Sheltered from the adverse weather conditions in barns, garages and in peoples' homes rats and mice start their rapid reproduction cycle. Rats and mice can breed even more efficiently than rabbits and from a single pair they can develop sizeable infestations very quickly. In favourable conditions such as a loft space with nearby food supply in the kitchen rats can give birth to a new litter every 28 days and mice about every 21 days. Rats and mice are often carriers of serious diseases some of which can be fatal to man. Weil's disease and Salmonellosis rank amongst the most widespread rodent-borne diseases. Parasites such as fleas, ticks and tapeworms can also be carried and transmitted by them to pets and people. And mind rats and mice are not only a health hazard to residents but they can wreck your property considerably in a relatively short time. Some examples of the most serious rodent damage to the property can be by burrowing under foundations and so weakening the structure of the building and gnawing through electric cables setting fire to the building. The above are good enough reasons for any responsible tenant, landlord or homeowner to protect their health as well as to prevent losses on the property. Being good climbers, both rats and mice can enter properties via points raised several yards from the ground. Some examples of rodent entry into a property may be via air vents, at gas pipes and along electric cables, openings in and under steps, drainage faults and many more. You can prevent rats and mice from gaining entry by checking for the above and sealing the potential rodent entry points bearing in mind mice can squeeze through holes as small as 5 millimetres while rats would need a bigger opening of about 20 millimetres. If you were not sure whether you already have pest rodents in your house you could look for signs such as droppings, characteristic smell, rodent hairs, footprints, tail swipes, smears etc. The places I would recommend you to check first are under the kitchen sink, gas and electricity meter cupboards, pantry, boiler cupboards, under the bath and in the loft space. Look out for rodent droppings. Rat droppings are 9 to 12 milimetres long, mice droppings are 3 - 7 millimetres long. If you discover a rat or mice infestation taking place in your property do not start with sealing and blocking up the rodent entry points. You will first need to get rid of the rodents before you should proceed to proofing. Two of the main means of rodent control are trapping and poisoning. Whether you are using rodent break-back traps or poisonous baits make sure they are out of the reach of children or secured in tamperproof boxes, also denying access to your pets. Some rodent control products for amateur use can be purchased from DIY stores. When buying them, please read and follow the label. Be aware that control requires time so be patient. It does not usually end with trapping and killing one or a few rats or mice. Czechmate Pest Control will be pleased to provide you with free advice and offers professional assistance at a low cost whenever needed. 7-day-a-week call out service covers the whole of Ayrshire, Inverclyde, Glasgow and Lanarkshire.