So if you're not yet dismayed by the drop in your home's equity and the sagging real estate market overall, brace for this: Any vacant houses on your street that can't find a buyer? People may not be ready to live there until the economy comes back. But there's a good chance some creatures are setting up homes on those properties.
Some public-health professionals are concerned that the increase in vacant structures as more homes go unsold for longer periods could give a boost to the populations of rats and mice. They build safe homes in the overgrown shrubbery or inside an attic or basement and then spread out from there to neighboring properties in search of food. And while Hollywood rodents can be cute or even industries, remember it was a bunch of mice that made Cinderella's dress (DIS), in real life, they can mean lower home values.
"It's a mistake to think that mice and rats are only found in low-income neighborhoods," says Jonathan Fielding, M.D., director of the L.A. County Department of Public Health. "They're wherever people live, no matter what the property value."If you've never seen a rat in your neighborhood it doesn't mean they're not there, it just means they're doing their job. Rats and mice are naturally nocturnal. They hide in their burrows during daylight hours, then at twilight they'll come out to look for garbage and leftover pet food.
If you should spot a rat racing across the street at midday or poking around a cat dish in the morning, that's usually an indication that you're seeing brain-addled individual or a population explosion that's causing them to take chances to survive.
The first step to keeping vermin off your property is to do a check of your perimeter. Look for the obvious nesting places: overgrown groundcover and shrubs. "Ivy and dense shrubs, where it's difficult for a predator to find them, are where they love to nest," says Todd Veden of Terminix Pest Control.