Rodents span a wide variety of animals, from cute little chipmunks to foot-long rats. Whether you live in an urban, suburban or rural setting, various rodent species pose a threat to your health and safety. Find out more about the behaviors and signs of two of the most common rodent pests -- rats and mice -- as well as how to prevent them from invading your home.

Are Rodents Dangerous?

While some rodents aren't dangerous, rats, squirrels and mice can endanger households by gnawing through electrical wires. Rats also contaminate food, spread diseases and sometimes transmit rat-bite fever when aggressive. Some mice species expose humans to the very serious hantavirus, while people can get the bubonic plague from certain mouse and squirrel varieties. Although it's the same disease that killed millions during the Middle Ages, it is both treatable and rare these days.

Mouse and Rat Behaviors

These rodents tend to build nests in and around your home. They stay and breed wherever they find shelter, water and food. Inspect your property, including your garage, shed and other outbuildings, for tennis ball-sized holes. These burrows are signs that rats have made their way inside. Mice can actually enter through dime-sized holes, while rats need openings about twice as big. Rodents also leave trails of droppings, making it easier to tell where they're headed. Clean these with soap and water, not a broom. The grease stains, or runways, rats leave behind provide further clues to their location.

How to Keep Rodents off Your Property

Don't give rats and mice an incentive to invade your home. Remove boxes, yard waste and other clutter from around your home, garage and the rest of your property. They'll be less likely to nest there, and your place will be less attractive to spiders, roaches and other pests. Seal off any gaps, holes or cracks in your home's walls and around entryways; rodents can't chew through steel wool or caulking. Contain trash in cans or bins with tightly sealed lids; do the same with pet food, birdseed and grass seed.

Many types of rodents present a threat to people and pets. Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to protect your household. From following our prevention tips to calling in a licensed pest control team, you're well on your way to maintaining a safe, healthy, rodent-free home. Contact My Pest Pros in Fairfax, VA, today to eliminate an infestation and prevent future rodent invasions.