Rats and Mice: Insulation Contamination!

Rat covering eyes with paws

How do you identify a rat infestation in and around Knoxville TN? It isn’t too hard if you know what signs to look out for. If you’ve found small droppings in the back of the cabinets or larger ones in the corners of your attic, these are both signs of rodents on your property. The same applies if you hear scratching or chittering in your walls or find chew marks on your stored belongings. If you have a mouse or rat infestation in your home, you can count on Russell’s Pest Control for a comprehensive extermination for your household. However, if the rodents get inside your insulation there’s a chance that they can cause damage we are not able to handle.

What attracts rats and mice to insulation, and what can you do to keep the two from meeting? Can Russell’s Pest Control help? Find out more below!

Do Rodents Like Insulation?

Why do rodents leave the Great outdoors in favor of your household? They do so by looking for a source of food and shelter. Ideally, this is in a place that is comfortable while also being relatively undisturbed, giving them the opportunity to nest, feed and reproduce in peace. Your wall voids and the space in your attic make great homes – and the insulation there is an added bonus.

Fiberglass batting is the most common choice of insulation for homes around Knoxville. Unfortunately, it’s also the variety most appealing to rat and mouse infestations. The material is soft and warm, and it’s very easy for rodents to tunnel through it while they go from place to place. They’ll even tear off pieces of fiberglass to either eat or use in their nest.

Once rodents use your insulation to nest, there’s little hope of repair. The material is not only structurally damaged, thanks to the presence of rat or mouse droppings it’s now potentially toxic. To avoid spreading Hantavirus into the air, it’s best to leave replacing your insulation to a professional.

Protecting Your Insulation from Rodents

Bad news: there is no variety of insulation that’s completely rodent-proof. We offer TAP® Insulation, which is chemically treated to kill and deter many varieties of pests. However, it’s only meant to treat insects as large as cockroaches or slugs, so even a smaller mouse would likely not be affected. No, when it comes to protecting your insulation from rats and mice, the best thing you can do is make sure they don’t get in to begin with.

It’s called wildlife exclusion, and at Russell’s Pest Control it is only one aspect of our comprehensive rodent treatment program. There’s a chance that, as you read this, there are gaps, cracks and openings rodents could use to get inside your home. With our help, we can cover and fill these potential entry points. This will not only protect you from rodents but many other forms of pests as well.

Your insulation works hard to keep you comfortable throughout the year. Returning the favor is easy with the help of Russell’s Pest Control. Contact us today to get started!

Do I Hear Animal Noises in the Attic?

Inspecting an attic for pests in Knoxville TN - Russell's Pest Control

Are you hearing scratching, scampering, or loud thuds coming from your attic? Odd sounds from your ceiling and walls are the first signs that many use to identify their wildlife problems. While it can be plainly apparent that animals are living in your attic by the sounds, the kind of animals and the source of the infestation can be difficult to discern without professional help. The critter control team at Russell’s Pest Control has your back here! We have the tools and capabilities to safely remove all kinds of animals from homes around Knoxville TN. Read on to learn how to get rid of animals in the attic!

Finding Animals in the Attic

If you think the noises you’re hearing from above are being caused by animals, you’ll want to inspect your home for other signs of animal activity. Here are a few things to look for in your search for evidence of a wildlife infestation:

  • Torn-up or destroyed insulation
  • Bite marks on hard surfaces in your home or on items stored in your attic
  • Urine and feces in crawl spaces, behind appliances, or in cluttered corners
  • Branches, leaves, and torn paper around your roof and attic

What Animals Do I Have in my Attic?

Once you’re sure that you have animals inside your home, it’s important to figure out what they are in order to safely move forward with wildlife removal measures. These are the animals that we most commonly find in our customers’ attics around Knoxville TN, along with the signs that reveal them:

  1. Raccoons: Raccoons are the strongest wild animals that we deal with inside our homes. They can tear through walls and break off roofing to get inside. Raccoons are active at night, so if you’re hearing loud noises while you sleep, this could be your problem.
  2. Squirrels: Squirrels sneak into our homes through gaps in roofing fixtures, as opposed to the more destructive raccoons. They are active during the day, so if they’re in your attic, you’ll hear light scurrying noises. Squirrel noises are softer and happen at different times than raccoon noises.
  3. Rats and mice: Damaged insulation is a good sign of rats or mice nesting in your attic. You’ll also likely notice gnawing marks and droppings around your home—rodents have to access water daily, so they’ll move around your property often.
  4. Birds: These invaders make themselves well known with their chirping sounds. If you believe you’re hearing birds inside your home, act quickly to get rid of them, because their droppings can create multiple health risks.

Safest Way to Get Rid of Animals in the Attic

You can seal off your trash bins, keep your yard tidy, and routinely inspect your home for holes and gaps to keep wildlife out. However, if wild animals have already started nesting or breeding inside your home, the safest and most effective way to deal with them is to get your local critter control professionals involved. At Russell’s Pest Control, we equip our wildlife removal team with humane and effective pest control products and strategies to safely get rid of wildlife and restore your home’s peace. Contact us today for a free quote or to learn more!

Rodents And New Construction

A norway rat in Knoxville TN - Russell's Pest ControlHere in Knoxville TN, we’ve helped clear rodents out of dozens of homes and businesses every winter. While we commonly think of older homes as having more vulnerabilities that could lead to rodent problems, brand-new construction provides rats and mice with all kinds of opportunities to find shelter for the winter. If you’re going through the process of building a new home or office and are experiencing or worried about rodent problems, read on. Our rodent exterminators at Russell’s Pest Control are here to teach you the best ways to secure your property from rodent problems.

Rodent Infestations in New Construction

The arrival of the winter season means that the mice and rats in this area are on the hunt for indoor nesting sites to keep them warm until the cold passes. Mice can invade any building that has a hole the size of a pencil or larger. Their bone structure can flex and bend to allow them to fit into impossibly small spaces. Rats may require slightly larger openings, but they’ll still squeeze through unbelievably tight spots. Because of this, all homeowners should make sure that their foundation vents are in good order and that weather-stripping is in place around all doors and windows.

However, some property owners are at greater risk than others. For instance, mice and rats always put more pressure on homeowners in areas near new constructions. Even if one of your neighbors is undergoing construction, the rodents nesting underground near the build site, finding their hiding spots revealed, will have to scramble to new homes. They might find yours suitable!

How to Keep Rodents and Mice Out

So, what can you do to prevent rodents from acting on new construction to find warm shelters? These are a few steps that we recommend you take: 

  1. Seal all gaps that give access to your building: This is easier when it’s not your home that’s undergoing construction. Inspect the outside of your property to seal any cracks in your walls, foundation, plumbing fixtures, or otherwise with either a silicone-based caulk or steel wool as you see fit. If your home is undergoing construction, make sure that any temporary tarping isn’t leaving small gaps that could allow rodents in.
  2. Be safe about food: Make sure your bins are sealable, your food is sealed and stowed away, and your trash cans are far away from your home. Rodents will pick up on the scent of food and establish nests nearby a food source, which can easily be obtained through your waste.
  3. Tidy up your yard: Having overgrown plants can allow for temporary rodent hiding places outside your home before they sneak into your house.

Professional Rodent Exterminators in Knoxville TN

If you can’t find the source of your rodent infestation and they are causing problems for you, it’s time to get your local rat or mice exterminators involved. At Russell’s Pest Control, we take a multi-faceted approach to rodent control, involving complete inspections to find infestation sources, exhaustive and safe rodent removal with professional technology, and preventative maintenance to ensure it never happens again. For a free quote, contact us today!

Fall & Winter Pests to Prevent in Knoxville

House mouse in Knoxville TN home - Russell's Pest Control

Here in Knoxville, we are used to dealing with hoards of pest problems year-round—including in the wintertime. Although some pest problems only persist through the summer, there are certain bugs and pests that stick around throughout the colder months as well. Namely, rodents! In partnership with PestWorld, the NPMA recently released their 2021 Fall & Winter Bug Barometer® predicting a significant increase in rodent activity this time of year. Rodent infestations have been on the rise in the past year or two, and this winter is no exception.

At Russell’s Pest Control, we understand the importance of keeping you and your family safe from pest problems, especially of the rodent variety. Our experts are here to share everything you need to know about preventing the increased risk of rodent infestations this year—read on to learn more!

Fall & Winter Pest Infestations in Tennessee

While many types of pests go away in the fall and winter, there are a few that stick around. With above-normal rainfall predicted, mosquitoes have lingered well into the fall months here in Knoxville. Moving into the winter, the most pressing pest pressures we face this time of year are those pests that look to get inside our homes to escape dropping temperatures outdoors.

In November, you may still be seeing some infamous fall pests inside your home. These include ants, stink bugs, Asian lady beetles, and boxelder bugs, all of which look to overwinter until springtime right in the comfort of your property. The most concerning winter pest problem our region faces this year, however, is a rodent infestation.

2021 Bug Barometer by the NPMA

Where Rats & Mice Nest In Your Home

Rodents can squeeze through some truly tiny cracks and crevices to make their way into your home. Once indoors, they can wreak havoc. Rats and mice use all types of materials to build nests, chew on everything nonstop (electrical wires included), and can create a health hazard with their droppings. It’s important to keep an eye out on the following areas of your property for rodent nests:

  1. Mice: House & deer mice alike will seek out dark, undisturbed places in the home to nest. With their small size, they can nest in rooms, inside of furniture, and even behind warm appliances in your kitchen or basement.
  2. Rats: Norway rats are known to burrow beneath the very foundation of your home, and are thus found in basements, crawl spaces, and more. Roof rats, however, prefer to live in higher areas of a property, including inside of wall voids or inside attics and chimneys.

How to Prevent a Rodent Infestation This Winter

Especially with NPMA’s prediction of increased rodent activity this year, now is the time to implement rodent exclusion services to keep rats and mice outside. The rodent exterminators at Russell’s Pest Control are here to help. We will work with you to prevent rodent infestations this winter and year-round. Contact us today to get started!

How to Identify Rats and Mice

Mouse or rat in Knoxville TN - Russell's Pest Control

Rats and mice are two of the most dreaded pest problems and for good reason. Many people group these two rodents together, but there are a number of important differences to know about. As rodents, all rat and mouse species share the common identifying feature that is their constantly growing incisor teeth. But how do they differ? Rats are obviously bigger than mice, but their differences don’t stop there. At Russell’s Pest Control, we want our customers to be well aware of the pest they are dealing with. For that reason, we are outlining all you need to know when it comes to learning how to identify rats and mice. Read on to learn more!

Rats & Mice: How to Identify Their Differences

There are a number of different rat and mouse species that are unique in their own way. That said, rats and mice, in general, can be identified through a number of ways.

  1. Rats
    • While they differ between species, rats typically have larger bodies that are about 6–9 inches.
    • Rats have small, hairy ears and larger feet.
    • Their droppings are much bigger than those of mice at 10–20 mm long.
    • Rats produce 3–6 litters a year with up to 10 pups in each litter.
    • Rats are opportunistic feeders that will eat meats, grains, seeds, and much more.
  2. Mice
    • Many mice species are only 2–4 inches long.
    • Mice typically have larger ears and tails compared to their body size.
    • The droppings mice leave behind have pointed ends and are just 1–2 mm long.
    • Mice produce 5–10 litters a year with up to 14 mice in each litter.
    • Mice are omnivores but mostly feed on seeds, grains, and fruits.

Mouse or rat identification in Knoxville TN - Russell's Pest Control

Are Mice and Rats Equally Dangerous?

Rats may be bigger and more aggressive at times than mice, but both of these rodents can inflict a lot of damage to your home. Rodents nest in walls and chew on wires, which can cause a fire hazard. Their chewing and gnawing habits also drives them to target your insulation, wood structures, and more. Rodents are infamous for their ability to carry and spread a number of potentially dangerous diseases. They also can trigger allergies in people. A rodent problem can be a mess to clean up due to the amount of droppings and urine left behind. In short, you definitely don’t want to deal with rats or mice!

Identifying Rats and Mice in Knoxville TN

If you think you have rats or mice in your home, you likely don’t want to get up close and personal to identify them. For that reason, it’s best to leave the identification of rodents to the professionals. At Russell’s, our rat and mice exterminators will identify the rodent you’re dealing with, draw up a plan to get rid of them, and help keep them away for good.

Are Rodents More Aggressive During COVID-19?

Rodents are entering Knoxville TN homes during the pandemic - Russell's Pest Control

With Rodent Awareness Week upon us, now is the perfect time to look into why rodent problems are on the rise. Since the start of the pandemic, reports of rodent sightings and infestations have been on the uprise—but why? When restaurants and bars were put under orders to limit or shut down operations, rodents were suddenly deprived of one of their most important food sources. This in turn caused two things: one, more aggressive behavior as they have to compete for food and two, a tendency to get into homes in search of food. Plus, with the weather beginning to change, rodents will seek out warmth and shelter right in your home for the coming months. All of this has caused an uptick in rodent problems right here in Knoxville TN. Keep reading to learn how to prevent rodents in the coming months.

Rodent Behavior During COVID-19

The good news is that rodents are not responsible for transmitting COVID-19 as they do with other diseases. The bad news? The pandemic has caused them to be more aggressive and rampant than ever. The shelter in place shutdowns caused an uptick in residential rodent sightings as rats and mice became colder in their hunt for resources.

This has since caused an uptick in infestations and rodent-spread issues. While they won’t transmit COVID-19 to you or your family, rodents still can spread other diseases including hantavirus, salmonellosis, and many more. They also can cause significant damage to your home with their nesting and chewing habits.

Tips & Tricks to Keep Rodents Out of Your Home

Rats and mice are on the rise right now, but you don’t need to let them infest your home. To keep rodents out and away from your property, our top tips include the following.

  1. Seal off cracks and crevices around openings. Mice can squeeze inside holes the size of a dime.
  2. Keep rodents out of your food by securely storing it in sealed containers.
  3. Clean inside the house and around the garden. Less clutter means fewer places to hide.
  4. Put outdoor garbage bags in metal garbage cans with securely fitted lids to stop them from feeding on contents.
  5. Clean up pet food and bird seed debris, and store pet food in robust containers with fitted lids, preferably above ground level.
  6. If you have a compost heap don’t include organic food waste, as this will attract them.
  7. Inspect your garage, attic, crawlspaces, and vents for potential rodent hiding spots.

The Importance of Rodent Awareness

Rodent Awareness Week only happens once a year, but it’s crucial to stay wary of these pests all year long. Especially during the pandemic, rats and mice are looking to get inside your home in the coming months. Russell’s Pest Control can help keep them out. Contact our rodent exterminators today!

How Mice Get Into Knoxville Attics In Winter

How Mice Get Into Knoxville Attics In Winter

How Mice Get Into Knoxville Attics in Winter

Winter is upon us and mice are out looking for a way to get into homes, but why? The simple truth is, mice prefer warmth over the chilly weather of winter and this fact drives them to seek out the best shelter they can find. Frankly, your home beats any other form of shelter they will be able to find in the wild. It has plenty of warmth, is always stocked with food and offers a variety of places to hide, whether in the walls or elsewhere. It’s no wonder why mice want in.

Mice Are Built To Invade

Mice are built to invade homes. They are small, agile, and are among some of the more clever pests out there. Just to put it into perspective, a fully grown house mouse can squeeze its body through a hole the size of a nickel. If you can find a nickel nearby take a look at it. Now consider the foundation of your home. Does it have any nickel-sized holes? On top of that, mice are also fairly good climbers meaning, more often than not, they can scale the walls of your home and invade at any level. This includes your attic. Now think back to the nickel fact again and this time consider your entire home for potential entry points. Even if your house is a fortress, there is always a chance a mouse can find a hole big enough to squeeze through.

Why Mice Are The Last Thing You Want In Your Home

Did you know that a mouse’s incisors never stop growing? And to combat this they chew on practically everything? This becomes a major problem when mice are surrounded by insulation and wires as they crawl through your walls. On top of chewing on everything, mice are also not the cleanest of animals. They often forage in areas of waste just as easily as they traipse through our food when they invade. This raises more than a few sanitation concerns. Finally, mice are known carriers of various diseases, ones that can be transmitted through their feces and urine, which they leave wherever they go. All around, mice are not a pest you want in your home.

Call Russell’s For All Your Mice Needs

When it’s all said and done, one thing will always be true, mice are a pain to deal with. They commonly elude traps, wreak havoc when the lights go out, and are an all-around threat to your health and well-being. So, if your home has mice, we want to help. By calling on Russell’s Pest Control, you are gaining over 40 years of pest control experience. Our pest control technicians are known for getting things done right. Any day, any time, we would be happy to do right by you and your home. So give us a call today!

Identifying A Rodent Infestation

Identifying A Rodent Infestation

Removing rodents from your home is most successful when you understand whether you are dealing with a mouse or rat infestation. Not only do mice and rats look different, but their behavior, habits, and food preferences are slightly different as well – meaning you can improve your rodent infestation removal efforts simply by knowing which species you are dealing with.

Signs of a Rodent Infestation

The telltale signs of a rodent infestation include droppings and urine odors; gnaw marks and holes, nests, and scampering noises throughout your home. The size of the droppings can help indicate whether you are dealing with a mouse or rat infestation. If the droppings are one quarter of an inch or smaller, you’re dealing with mice. If the droppings are half an inch or bigger, you’re dealing with rats.

Behavior Differences Between Mice and Rats

Mice are curious creatures and like to investigate everything. Place traps in areas with mice droppings, as they are likely to run through that area. Rats, on the other hand, are cautious creatures and avoid new things until they have gotten somewhat used to them. Your best bet with rats is to place unset traps in the likely rat path for a few days, to give the rats time to get used to it being there before setting it in hopes of trapping the critter.

Mice build nests near food sources and prefer to eat plants and grains, although they will eat most anything if they have to. Rats, on the other hand, burrow under buildings and under plants and debris, and prefer to eat plants and other animals. Rats will even eat mice. Both are nocturnal creatures, preferring to do most of their exploring at night, but may be seen during the day if their nests are disrupted or they’re in search of food.

Getting Rid of Rodents

Take some time to inspect your property and properly seal any cracks and crevices. Both mice and rats can enter your home through tiny openings (mice only need a hole about the size of a dime to get in, and rats just slightly larger than that!)

If your trapping efforts haven’t eliminated your rodent infestation, call Russell’s Pest Control for rodent elimination services. We’ll conduct a thorough inspection of your home to determine whether you have a rat or mouse infestation, deploy proper pest control measures to get rid of existing rodents, and help you prevent future infestations.

Keep Pests From Haunting The House This Halloween

f you watch the local news, you may have seen the pest control industry got a fair amount of attention this fall since the overwintering pests like stink bugs caused more than their fair share of trouble (and are likely to continue to do so in the spring). It’s always good to have a reminder about the important steps you can take to pest-proof your home each season.  Check out a our recent press release below.


Knoxville, TN, October 2013 – Ghosts, goblins, and witches won’t be the only creatures trying to spook homeowners this Halloween. Russell’s Pest Control advises people to be on the lookout for real-life ghoulish pests lurking around neighborhoods, including rodents, bats and spiders.

“As the temperature continues to drop, many of these creepy critters will seek respite from the winter chill – often within the confines our homes,” said Mark Nadolski, Owner/General Manager for the Russell’s Pest Control. “Once inside, rodents and other pests can do more than just provide their fair share of scares. They are capable of contaminating food, spreading disease and posing a threat to our property.”

Rodents can spread salmonella and hantavirus and create fire hazards by gnawing through electrical wires in the home. Bats are frequent carriers of rabies, which is potentially fatal if left untreated, and some species of spiders can administer a painful bite when disturbed.

To keep these pests from haunting the house this Halloween, the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) recommends the following tips:

  • Seal any cracks or crevices with caulk and steel wool. Pay special attention to holes in the structure that lead to dark secluded areas, like attics and belfries.

  • Screen attic vents and openings to chimney.

  • Install door sweeps on exterior doors and repair damaged screens.

  • Eliminate sources of moisture, especially in crawl spaces and basements.

  • Inspect items such as boxes, grocery bags and other packages brought into the home.

  • Store food in airtight containers and dispose of garbage regularly.

  • If you suspect a pest infestation in your home, contact a licensed pest professional to inspect and treat the pest problem.

For more information on common household pests and how to protect your home, please contact us today!

Hantavirus And The Deer Mouse

Recently, we’ve been hearing talk on the news about Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS). This disease has been attracting the attention of pest control professionals because it is generally spread by a common rodent, the deer mouse. So, let’s go through some Q and A about HPS and how it intersects with the pest control industry.

Q: What is Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome?

A: HPS is a dangerous disease first identified in the U.S. in 1993 when a series of respiratory-related deaths occurred in the western part of the country. After intensive research, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) found that the deaths could be attributed to the Hantavirus. When people are exposed to the Hantavirus, they can (but may not) develop HPS.

Q: How could I be exposed to HPS?

A: Hantavirus exposure is overwhelmingly attributed to interaction with rodents, particularly the deer mouse. Please note that not every species of rodent caries the Hantavirus, and most of the rodents in East Tennessee are not known to be carriers of this virus. Knoxville and all of East Tennessee are on the very outskirts of the deer mouse’s habitat. Cotton rats, which are natives to the South East, can also carry the Hantavirus, but they are found to be infected less frequently than the deer mouse.

Q: What kind of activities could put me at risk for getting HPS from a deer mouse?

A: The Hantavirus is spread through contact with urine, feces, and saliva from an infected deer mouse or cotton rat. You should be on your guard if you are spending time in infrequently-used buildings that may have rodent activity, if you are doing yard work near wood piles or other habitats that could harbor mice, or if you are hiking or camping in areas that are attractive to mice (like campgrounds or trail shelters). If you are going to be working in an area with known mouse activity (like a shed or a crawl space), wear a surgical mask while you work. This is an airborne virus, so you are most likely to be exposed to it while breathing in mouse-infested areas. This virus is not transferable from human to human, meaning that if you are exposed to mouse waste, you cannot pass on the virus to friends or family members by touching them or kissing them.

Q: What are the symptoms of HPS?

A: Generally speaking, the virus begins to express itself less than a month after exposure to infected deer mice. All victims of HPS complain of extreme fatigue, fever, and deep muscle cramps in the thighs, abs, and back. Most patients also experience some kind of abdominal problems (nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea) as well as dizziness and headaches. These are the early symptoms that are leading to the respiratory problems. Eventually, the lungs will start to fill up with fluid, and the patient will experience tightness in the chest, difficulty breathing, and a suffocating feeling.

Q: What should I do if I think I have HPS?

A: Go to the doctor! The problem is that early HPS symptoms mimic flu symptoms, so people often wait too long to get help. If you start to get flu-like symptoms after being exposed to rodent habitats, go to the doctor immediately and describe your rodent interaction. About 40% of HPS cases are fatal, which means you shouldn’t mess around with this issue. Although there is no direct cure for HPS, a hospital will be able to provide respiratory help and can potentially alleviate some of the dangers associated with the symptoms of HPS while the virus runs its course.

Q: What does all of this have to do with pest control?

A: Are you ready to hear me sound like a broken record again? The CDC is very clear that the best way to handle HPS is to avoid it entirely. You do this by not allowing mice and rats the chance to build up habitats in your home or outbuildings. Caulk up those small openings. Use weather stripping to seal large openings. Put down snap traps (in safe, inaccessible locations) so that you’ll know immediately if mice try to invade your home. The fall and winter are the most likely times to see mice near your home, and this is particularly relevant since we are experiencing such an early fall here in East Tennessee.

Q: Where can I get help with rodent control?

A: You can get help from Russell’s Pest Control, of course! Give us a call if you want year-round rodent control, and we’ll help you in any way we can. You can also contact us online.