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A Portland Homeowner’s Guide to Moles

A Portland Homeowner’s Guide to Moles

Is there a greater homeowner arch nemesis than the tunnel boring, yard ruining Mole? 

Getting rid of these annoying creatures often turns into a frustrating game of whack-a-mole — spending countless time and energy but never fully eradicating the problem. All the while, the damage to your property continues.

It doesn’t have to be this way. In fact, armed with the right knowledge and tools, getting rid of Moles in your yard can be quite simple. You might even come to appreciate these ugly little critters… or at least feel a little less animosity toward them.

What are Moles?

There are 4 common types of Moles in Oregon and Washington:

  • Townsend Mole 
  • Coast Mole (Pacific Mole)
  • Broad-footed Mole
  • Shrew Mole

If you have a mole problem in Portland, you’re likely dealing with a Townsend Mole or Coast Mole. These adult Moles have a cylindrical-shaped body and dense, velvet gray or black fur. They range from 5-8 inches long and weigh about 2-3 ounces.

Their front feet are very wide and larger than their hind feet. They have long white claws that they use to dig and tunnel through dirt. Mole noses are pink and very pointed, while their ears and eyes are incredibly small, almost invisible to the eye. 

Speaking of invisible, Moles spend almost all of their time underground and chances are you will never actually see one! While spotting a Mole is tricky, the damage they cause is quite obvious. More on that soon.

Signs you might have a Mole problem

Moles eat up to 100% of their weight in worms, grubs, and insects every day. These critters are looking for food all day long, which means they’re constantly excavating dirt and creating tunnels. And here lies the issue with Moles for homeowners.

Mole tunnels are usually 2 inches wide and sit about a foot under the surface of the ground. This results in raised ridges running across your lawn, called “runways”. Plus, as Moles dig up soil, they push it up above ground and create what’s known as a Molehill. 

Molehills are circular, volcanic-shaped mounds of dirt that pile up around your yard. These dirt piles consist of soil from the deep down layers of the earth. Molehills can be up to a foot wide and range from 6 inches to 12 inches tall.

The difference between Moles and Gophers

Many people often get Moles and Gophers confused. Although they both burrow underground, they are quite unique to each other. Once you understand the difference, you’ll have no problem telling them apart.

Gophers are rodents (Moles are not considered a rodent). In appearance, Gophers look somewhat similar to a Squirrel or Mouse, with small eyes and ears, and short fine fur (usually brown or tan in color). They are larger than a Mole and have a flat head and stocky body. 

Another difference? Gophers are vegetarians while Moles are insectivores. Gophers love veggies and are known for destroying roots, bulbs, leaves, and other flora in your yard. While Gophers spend most of their time underground, they will emerge to gather food or drag entire plants back down into their tunnel.

Because Gophers leave their tunnels, they cause holes in the surface of your yard. A Gopher mound is about 1-2 feet in diameter and can be up to a foot high (much larger than a Molehill). And while Molehills are round with no entry point, Gopher mounds are shaped like a crescent or horse shoe with the tunnel hole clearly visible.

Another distinguishing feature of a Gopher mound is a corresponding hole will be off to one side and plugged with fluffy, fresh dirt.

Don’t forget about Voles!

There’s one more burrowing critter you need to know about — Voles. Voles are smaller than Gophers and Moles and look very similar to a field mouse or hamster. These little rodents have short, stocky bodies and small dark eyes. Like Gophers, Voles are herbivores.

The most noticeable difference between Moles and Voles are the burrows. While Moles leave Molehills, Voles leave no mounds behind at all.  Instead, Voles create above-ground runways to connect their burrows together. 

These snakelike lines are about 1-2 inches wide and usually found in grassy areas of your property. You’ll notice Vole droppings on the surface of these runways. 

In addition to the runways, other signs you’re dealing with a Vole problem are:

  • Partially eaten carrots, potatoes, or other root vegetables or flower bulbs
  • Chewed-up bark near the base of trees and shrubs
  • Young trees or shrubs leaning over and damaged

Moles can cause damage to your home

As we’ve discussed, the most common problem Moles cause is tearing up your yard. Depending on the number of Moles you’re dealing with, you may experience Molehills and runways all over your lawn. In the process, it’s common for Moles to disrupt shrubs, bushes, and flowers. Most people find it impossible to maintain landscaping when dealing with a Mole intrusion.

More than disrupting your yard, Moles can also cause damage to your foundation. This is surprising to many homeowners. Left to run wild, Mole tunnels may eventually encroach on the foundation of your home. The tunnels dug under and around your foundation can cause water to accumulate, eventually leading to cracks in your foundation. This is a very serious issue!

All said, since Moles are primarily insectivores, some homeowners find these unique creatures to be helpful in managing bugs. However, this is usually not ideal unless you have a plan for ensuring they don’t cause damage to your home. You’ll also need to be diligent about managing the disruption to your plants, lawn, and other landscaping in your yard.

Most of the time, taking steps to get rid of yard Moles is the best way forward.

How to get rid of Moles

Portland homeowners go to great lengths to get rid of moles and keep their yards looking great. But tackling this process on your own can be dangerous and is often ineffective. 

For one reason, no current over-the-counter repellents can reliably protect against Moles. DIY methods like mothballs, garlic, or gum placed in the tunnels also don’t produce reliable results. 

And tricks like placing broken glass, razor blades, or barbed wire in and around Mole tunnels usually prove more hazardous to you and your family than to the Moles. In fact, Moles are known for just circumventing foreign objects like these. 

So what can you do? 

You can certainly try one of the many Mole control methods to see if one of them works for your situation. Oregon State University Extension Service has a great PDF with information on how to control Moles that may be helpful. 

However, before you set a trap or toxic bait, make sure you understand the laws in your state and environmental implications. For example, in Washington, traditionally-used mole traps are no longer legal for use. 

The most effective way to control Moles is to work with a professional. Here at EcoCare Pest Control, we offer an advanced CO2 elimination procedure that’s much more efficient than traditional Mole trapping methods. We can even effectively take care of Voles!

As always, our methods are non-toxic, eco-friendly, and safe for your property and family. This process involves a series of visits to your home to ensure the problem is actually solved. It’s the best way to get rid of Moles in Portland, Vancouver, and throughout the PNW.

Let us know how we can help you!

If you have questions about Moles in Portland, contact us. We can help:

  • Answer common questions about Moles
  • Identify if you have a Mole, Vole, or Gopher problem
  • Get rid of Moles, Voles, Ground Squirrels, and other wildlife on your property

Our team has years of experience and is here to help you care for your property and keep you and your family safe.

Rat or Mouse: Does It Even Matter?

Rat or Mouse: Does It Even Matter?

Do you have a sinking feeling your Portland or Vancouver home is suffering from a Rat or Mouse infestation? Unfortunately, here in the Pacific Northwest this is an all too common occurrence. If you’ve found droppings or noticed signs of rodent damage, you may not know whether it’s a Mouse or Rat. If you don’t know, does it matter?

In this post, we’ll answer that question. We’ll also outline the main differences between Rats and Mice and the damage they cause.

Already know you have a problem? Learn more about our Portland and Vancouver area Rat and Mice extermination services.

What’s the difference between Rats and Mice?

While both Rats and Mice are rodents, they have distinct characteristics that are important to recognize to help you identify which has infiltrated your home.

Rats

The two main types of Rats in the Portland and Vancouver areas include:

  • Norway Rats: Also known as Sewer Rats, these brown Rats are known for invading homes and will generally stay in the basement or first floor. They are larger than Roof Rats (generally 7-10 inches long not counting the tail). Their tails are always shorter than the body.
  • Roof Rats: While these black Rats are somewhat smaller than Norway Rats at around 6 inches long, they cause just as much trouble. Roof Rats have long tails and are climbers known to live in trees. When they make their way into homes, they generally live in walls, ceilings, or other elevated and enclosed spaces.

Mice

The most common types of Mice found in the Portland and Vancouver areas include:

  • House Mice: Also called “Field Mice,” these tiny creatures reside in fields when not leeching off humans. Once inside, these Mice reproduce rapidly and wreak havoc on your home. House Mice are generally 2.5-3.5 inches long not counting the tail, and have a light gray color.
  • Deer Mice: Found more frequently in rural areas, Deer Mice prefer seeking cover in less insulated structures like barns or sheds. When conditions are bad outside however, Deer Mice will infiltrate your home. Deer Mice are about the same size as House Mice, but with a gray and brown complexion.

Is it a Rat or Mouse in my home?

Though the problems Rats and Mice create are similar, they are distinct creatures with different behaviors and signs of infestation.

Rat and Mouse droppings

One of the most common ways to diagnose a rodent infestation is through the discovery of droppings. Simply put, rodent droppings will be found where they are most active. You’ll usually find the droppings near where rodents nest or eat. This could include:

  • Kitchens, including anywhere food is stored
  • Attic or basement
  • Cardboard boxes or other storage bins
  • Under furniture
  • Wherever you store clothes

Generally, you can determine the species of rodent by the type of droppings they create. Consult the below chart to determine whether your home has been infiltRated by Rats or Mice.

Take note: rodent droppings should be handled and inspected with extreme care. Rodent feces carries dangerous bacteria, viruses, and disease. If picking up, make sure you use rubber gloves and keep away from your face.

Rat

Mouse

Shape ¾ inch and curved and capsule shaped ¼ inch and spindle shaped
Quantity A few dozen droppings total a day 100-150 droppings total a day
Location

Places humans visit infrequently, including:

  • Attics
  • Garages
  • Basements
  • Roofs
  • Walls

They can also be found around kitchen areas

More apparent, Mice droppings can be found:

  • Behind kitchen appliances or furniture
  • Silverware drawer
  • Inside pantries
  • Storage boxes or containers

Can also be found in hidden places like walls, basement, and attics

Color Dark with shiny wet surface when fresh, turning gray and crumbly when old Fresh droppings will be black, with old droppings turning gray

Physical damage

Both Rats and Mice are tremendous chewers, working their way through anything in their path. A Rat’s front teeth actually grow 4.5-5.5 inches a year! This length is whittled down as they gnaw through objects.

The damage the two rodents inflict to Portland and Vancouver homes is actually quite similar to one another. Rats are bigger however, meaning that the damage they inflict is generally more severe than damage caused by Mice.

Some common household items or features of your home that Mice and Rats damage include:

  • Electrical wiring
  • HVAC units
  • Foundations
  • Ductwork
  • Plastic and even lead piping (primarily an issue with Rats)
  • Siding
  • Insulation
  • Crawlspaces
  • Roofs

The damage caused by Mice and Rats can result in serious, long-term problems for your home, such as:

  • Water damage, leading to rotting and mold
  • Fires caused by electrical issues
  • Structural weakening caused by issues in a home’s foundation
  • Energy waste, with heat and AC escaping through torn heat ducts or weakened siding and insulated walls
  • Broken appliances due to electrical or even structural damage to the appliance

Disease

Rodents are notorious for spreading disease, particularly Rats. Notably, the Roof Rat is responsible for the bubonic plague! The disease is generally carried and contracted either through fecal matter or insects. Getting rid of the rodents as soon as possible is extremely important!

This importance is compounded by the fact that Rats and Mice are notorious for making their way into stored food (The United Nations estimates that Rats alone destroy $19 billion worth of food annually).

Once they’ve made their way into your stored food, they’ll then leave droppings right where you eat. If you don’t notice, the situation can turn extremely toxic and dangerous. Don’t let this happen to you!

Diseases Rats and Mice potentially carry include:

  • The plague
  • Salmonellosis
  • Trichinosis
  • Lyme disease
  • Rat-bite fever

Pest control for Rats and Mice

The question we’ve all been asking – does it matter whether you have been infiltRated by a Mouse or a Rat? The answer is unsurprising – a little bit of both.

Both Rats and Mice require a targeted and unique approach to extermination. While both can cause similar damage, they can reside in different parts of the home and have unique behavior. Due to this, they require different methods to truly rid a Portland or Vancouver home of the issue.

Whether you have a Rat infestation or Mouse infestation, make sure to call a pro!

While both Rats and Mice require specific solutions, as a homeowner the end result should be the same – calling a professional and ecologically friendly pest exterminator like EcoCare Pest Solutions.

When you work with EcoCare, we’ll use our targeted and precise methods to rid your home of Mice or Rats. Our approach includes:

  • Inspection and Analysis: Our experienced exterminators will begin by inspecting the entirety of your home, identifying the species and how they got into your home in the first place.
  • Exclusion: Once we find where the rodents are gaining entry, we’ll make sure they stay out for good by closing up openings around pipes, crawl spaces, roof adjoinments, and more.
  • Eco-Friendly Extermination: At EcoCare Pest Solutions, we focus our extermination on eco-friendly methods. We’ll rarely use poison inside your home. This is bad for the environment and causes rodents to die inside your home, causing horrible odors and unsafe air-quality.

Talk to the Rat and Mice extermination experts at EcoCare Pest Solutions. We can help your rid your home of rodents for good. Best of all? We do it in a safe way to ensure your family and pets are unaffected.

Learn more about our Rat and Mice extermination services today!

7 Signs You Have a Squirrel Problem

7 Signs You Have a Squirrel Problem

The squirrels running around your neighborhood are harmless, right? Generally speaking, yes – squirrels are very common here in the Portland area, especially the Western Gray Squirrel, and will typically keep to themselves.

On the other hand, our wildlife control team has worked with countless homeowners who have gone months without realizing the damage these “harmless neighborhood squirrels” are inflicting on their property.

The key is to stay aware of squirrel activity around your home so you can catch and control any issues right away. In this blog post, we’re outlining 7 tell-tale signs of squirrels wreaking havoc on your home.

Dealing With A Squirrel Problem? We’ll Take Care of the Issue Naturally.

Learn more about our approach to squirrel removal and control.

1. Strange noises around your home

If you’re paying attention, there’s a good chance you’ll hear a squirrel before you see any visual evidence. This is especially true during the winter or rainy months when you’re less likely to notice exterior signs of squirrel problems.

Throughout the year, keep your ears open for unusual noises in your home. The two most common types of sounds you’ll hear are:

  • Scurrying and scampering
  • Scratching or chewing (squirrels inside your home will chew on everything from wood beams to drywall and electrical wiring!)

Squirrels often make their nests in attics, so you’ll likely notice these sounds coming from your ceiling. However, don’t discount these noises if you hear them in other areas of your home, such as your chimney.

2. Damage around your home

Inside your home, evidence of squirrel damage can be difficult to see. Most of the interior issues caused by squirrels are hidden away in your attic or walls.

Take a peek in these areas and you may notice…

  • Teeth marks in wires, wood, and walls
  • Chewed electrical wires
  • Nests in your insulation
  • Wood chips scattered everywhere
  • Air vent damage

While you may not immediately notice if a squirrel is chewing up the inside of your attic and walls, it’s easier to spot signs of squirrel damage around the exterior of your home. If you suspect a squirrel problem, an inspection of your property will be very telling!

Some things to look for include…

  • Holes in your shingles
  • Roofline damage
  • Chew marks on the outer panels of your home
  • Ripped open garbage bags or garbage scattered around your yard
  • Damage to bird feeders
  • Chewed up outdoor furniture
  • Chewed bark on young trees
  • Eaten garden plants

3. Squirrel droppings in your garage or attic

Squirrel droppings are a great indicator of an infestation issue and are most often found in your garage, attic, or near entry points around your home. However, identifying squirrel droppings can be difficult, as they look similar to other critters like bats, raccoons, and rats.

If you notice any type of droppings around your home, exercise caution. Wildlife droppings of any kind carry dangerous diseases and bacteria, such as salmonella. Avoid coming into contact with these droppings. Instead, immediately call a wildlife control company to come inspect the issue and identify the culprit.

4. A foul, decaying smell

If squirrels are finding their way into your home, there’s a good chance some of them aren’t making it out. Some squirrels get stuck while others are just too young to fend for themselves. Whatever the reasoning, soon these squirrels will die and start to decay.

Many of our customers call us when they suddenly notice a strong, terrible odor in their house. This can be the smell of a dead squirrel stuck under your home, in your walls, or up in your attic. This squirrel needs to be found and removed in order to rid your home of this unpleasant smell.

Pro tip: If you’ve tried to take care of a squirrel problem on your own by using a poison, you’ll likely eventually be faced with dead squirrels (and a horrible smell) inside your home. It’s always better to call an expert to take care of the issue naturally in order to avoid this issue.

5. Squirrel footprints

Squirrel tracks are fairly easy to identify. They’re small, with the front paws having 4 toes and the back having 5. In the winter, you may notice tracks in the snow or mud. During the rest of the year, you can often see tracks from their wet feet on your deck or driveway.

If you want to do some extra sleuthing, put a piece of cardboard covered in flour in the area you suspect the squirrels are inhabiting. If you have a squirrel problem in that area, you’ll soon notice tracks in the flour.

6. Signs of water damage on your walls or ceiling

Have you noticed water damage on your ceiling or walls? We hate to tell you this, but it might not be water damage at all, but rather signs of a squirrel population living in your attic.

The longer a squirrel lives in your home, the more feces and urine it produces. If left unnoticed, eventually this waste will build up and seep into your insulation and wood. Just like water damage, this can cause staining, peeling, and bubbling in your walls.

7. Squirrel fights around the neighborhood

Seeing squirrels fighting in your yard doesn’t inherently mean you have a squirrel infestation, but it’s a good indication your home is at risk.

Here in the Pacific Northwest, we have all the great natural resources a squirrel needs to live a long and happy life. However, if a squirrel population is too large in one area, these critters will start fighting to defend their resources and rights to survival.

What to do if you have a squirrel problem

Identifying if your home has a squirrel problem (or is susceptible to a squirrel problem) is the first step in managing the issue. From there, it’s all about removing the squirrels currently living in your home and causing problems followed by exclusion work to prevent any future access.

Here in Portland and Vancouver, there are laws dictating how you can control squirrel populations around your home. For example, did you know it’s illegal to:

  • Relocate squirrels from one property to another
  • Keep a squirrel as a pet

Additionally, if you notice a squirrel in your home anytime between the months of March to September, you can assume there’s a nest of baby squirrels somewhere in your home.

Choose preventative and eco-friendly wildlife control methods

 

Squirrels are so common here in the Pacific Northwest that many homeowners never
consider how they might be causing problems for their property. However, now that you do know, make sure to take a preventative approach to protecting your home and family.

At EcoCare Pest Control, our experienced wildlife exterminators take a careful 3-step approach to helping you control the squirrel population around your home. We’ll stop the issue at the source and keep squirrels around your home from causing any more damage.

Have Questions About Working with Our Team? Get Answers!

Read our Frequently Asked Questions

What Portland Homeowners Need to Know About Rodent & Wildlife Infestations

What Portland Homeowners Need to Know About Rodent & Wildlife Infestations

While internet sensations like Pizza Rat and Rocket Raccoon may paint a friendly picture of rats, raccoons, and other wildlife, I’d still wager that you don’t want these creatures destroying your property.

For instance, you probably wouldn’t enjoy waking up to scratching noises in the ceiling, a bat flying through your bedroom, or glass bottles shattering as these “friendly” critters rummage through your garbage. Unfortunately, here in the Pacific Northwest, these are all very common scenarios.

In today’s blog post, we’ll outline what Portland homeowners need to know about rodent and wildlife infestations. You’ll learn the more serious damage these creatures can cause, what to look for, and how to (safely and properly) handle an infestation.

Have questions along the way? Give us a call at (503) 222-5566. We’re here to help!

Rodents and Wildlife Can Cause Serious Damage to Your Home

Dealing with a rodent or wildlife infestation in your home is more than a nuisance; it’s a safety issue. These creatures are frequently the cause of fire hazards, foundation issues, diseases, and bugs.

We recently shared about the costly structural damage rodents and other pests inflict on homes throughout the PNW. Below we’re sharing a recap of some of the most common issues caused by rodents and wildlife.

 

Rats, Mice, & Bats Cause Insulation and Electrical Damage

Rats, mice, and bats all love to make their home in your insulation. Can you blame them? It’s the perfect warm, quiet, and cozy spot to sleep. When these critters tear through and chew holes in your insulation, the result is a weakened structure and a home that isn’t properly protected from the elements.

These creatures will also chew through anything that’s in their way, including electrical wires. Electrical fires accounted for 9% of all fires from 2011-2015. Often, rodents and pests are the cause of these electrical home fires.
 

Possums and Raccoons Leave Holes Everywhere

A dug up lawn or garden may not endanger your family, but it is frustrating. Raccoons will dig holes to hide food or other treasures, and opossums like to look under your yard for bugs to eat.

More seriously, raccoons are avid explorers and will stop at nothing to get into your house or attic if it looks interesting. They may even suddenly crash through your ceiling one day! These critters are often the cause of siding damage, broken glass, and holes in your roof or under your house.
 

Rats and Raccoons Steal and Destroy Your Property


Racoons are sneaky little bandits. If you have something they want, they’re going to take it (or try to, anyway). Take the rogue raccoon who broke into a liquor store in Tennessee, stealing spirits and causing a lot of damage. These creatures are mischievous!

Rats and mice are also known for sneaking into your home and stealing food or other tiny objects, gnawing on whatever they want along the way.
 

All Rodents & Wildlife Bring Bugs and Disease

In addition to all the above, keep in mind that all these rodents and wildlife carry various diseases and bugs. Raccoons and bats are common carriers of rabies and rats can transmit diseases like salmonella and hepatitis. Not to mention these creatures often also have parasites, fleas, and ticks and can be dangerous to your pets.

The Best Way to Prevent a Rodent or Wildlife Infestation

There are simple steps you can take to prevent rodents and wildlife from taking over your home. However, keep in mind that no matter how careful you are, a critter may still decide that your house looks interesting and is worth exploring. In these cases, it’s best to:

  • Keep up with home repairs – Don’t let holes, leaks, or other damage go untreated. Sealing up these spaces and keeping your home in good shape will help prevent rodents and wildlife from viewing your home as a good nesting spot and getting inside.
  • Maintain your yard – Cut back trees, keep ivy trimmed, add tree guards to your trees. All these can prevent critters from crawling up and onto your roof.
  • Store food properly – Unsealed food, food left on counters, or pet food sitting in the open is very attractive to rodents and wildlife.
  • Secure your garbage cans – Make sure your garbage cans are always closed. Don’t leave trash sitting out in bags. Keep the area around your garbage cans clean and clear.

Signs That Your Property Has a Rodent or Wildlife Problem

Aside from actually seeing a rat or opossum scurrying around your house and property, how do you know if you’re dealing with a one-off situation or are on the verge of an infestation?

Generally, if you begin to notice these critters on a recurring basis, it’s a good sign you have a problem. However, there are other specific things to watch out for, including:

  • Animal noises and droppings – Do you frequently hear scurrying or scratching noises in your walls or ceiling? You may also notice urine stains on your ceiling, floors, and walls, or find animal droppings in your pantry, attic, or living spaces.
  • Signs of internal or external damage – Around your house, look for holes in your siding, fences, and lawn. Garbage strewn about or broken glass is another sign. Inside, keep an eye out for teeth marks, frayed wires, or wood chips.
  • A foul smell – Creatures living in your home will soon start to stink up the place. This can come from their urine and droppings, old food they’re storing, or from those that have died in your walls or attic.

Never Try Removing these Animals on Your Own– It’s Dangerous

One of the most important things Portland homeowners need to know about a rodent or wildlife infestation is this: trying to trap and remove these creatures on your own can be very dangerous.

Raccoons can be aggressive. Rats may bite when provoked. Bats may attack if they feel threatened.

If we can leave you with one piece of advice today, it’s to never handle bats, raccoons, or other wildlife on your own. There’s simply too much risk involved. If you’re dealing with a rodent or wildlife issue, it’s best to work with an experienced Portland exterminator.

Always Clean Up after a Wildlife or Rodent Infestation

Did you know that simply removing the animals from your home is not enough? There are a series of steps that need to happen in order to repair damages and prevent a future infestation.

For example, rats and bats can leave behind feces and urine in your home, contaminating your insulation with dangerous viruses and parasites. Plus, the scent of a previous infestation can also attract other species. This needs to be removed and cleaned up to keep your home and family safe.

How We Can Help You Handle a Rodent or Wildlife Infestation

Whether you’re facing a full infestation or dealing with a just couple stubborn raccoons, we can help.

Here at EcoCare, we take a proven and eco-friendly approach to rodent and wildlife control and extermination, not only removing the infestation, but preventing future issues as well. We even partner with a sister construction company to perform larger, more technical cleanup and repairs.

Have questions about working with us? Visit our FAQ page to learn more. Or contact us. We’d be happy to hear from you, answer your questions, and help you take care of your rodent or wildlife issue.