Do Rodents Hibernate In Your Home?

Do Rodents Hibernate In Your Home?

“Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse…” Yes, this is a classic Christmas poem - but it does bring up a relevant point! Do mice, and other rodents, really sleep or hibernate over the winter? The answer is not a straightforward yes or no. There are over 1500 different species of rodents - and they don’t all share the same habits. Obviously, you won’t have a capybara taking up residence in your attic (the world’s largest rodent looks like a guinea pig… a guinea pig that’s the size of a golden retriever!)... but you are probably concerned about more common pests. 

So let’s take a look: do rodents hibernate in your home? 

Rodents’ Favorite Place to Winter? Your Warm Home!

When the weather begins to get colder, rodents like mice, rats, chipmunks, and squirrels seek shelter in which to winter over. Your garage, attic, crawlspaces, outbuildings, etc., make the perfect vacation home. Rats and mice are very adept at gaining entrance: an adult mouse can fit through a hole the size of a dime, and a rat can fit through a hole the size of a quarter. They’ll use those tiny spaces to enter and find warmth, shelter, and, of course, food.

Some rodents do hibernate in the winter. These include groundhogs, chipmunks, and ground squirrels. You are far more likely to see rodents that do not hibernate invading your home. Most common:

Again, because mice and rats are master contortionists, they have a lot more options when it comes to their access to your home. They want to find a spot that has airflow and is close to their food source. Attics, walls, basement, crawl spaces, vents, air ducts, insulation, and in or behind cabinets are all possibilities. 

Both mice and rats are nocturnal, so when you turn in, they’re active. They typically have a small store of food, but when they run out, they’ll try to find more. This makes your kitchen destination #1. Leaving food scraps or crumbs out or in open trash cans can attract them. 

Tree squirrels are much bigger, and they can’t fit through these teeny tiny holes. Still, though, many do find their way into attics, crawl spaces, and vents. They are not nocturnal, and they really, really want to avoid you. You likely will not see them - but you may hear them, and they can damage insulation, wallboards, wiring, and other elements of your home - just as mice and rats can. 

How To Prevent Rodents From Entering Your Home 

The best step is to restrict access: seal up any gaps and cracks on the exterior of your home, and make your yard less appealing. Keep woodpiles covered and away from your house, clear away organic debris, and trim back vegetation.

If they do get inside - remember, they are wily little pests! - make sure that you put all food away, clean away crumbs and scraps, put pet food away at night, cover your trash, and call Rid-a-Bug Exterminating if you have problem “guests” who refuse to vacate. We’re on the way!