New Hampshire’s rodent population rises
CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — It may seem like we have just lived through The Summer of the Squirrel, but that isn’t the half of it. What’s really happening might be called The Rise of the Rodents - and they’re coming for your house.
“It’s been going on for several years. This year is busier for all rodents, but it has been increasing for years,” said Susan Lincoln, owner since 1975 of Hampshire Pest Control in Northwood.
The population of squirrels, chipmunks and mice has grown markedly and has been noticed by many people, mostly in the form of roadkill squirrels. With fall here they’ll be looking for warm places to live, such as attics, basements and walls, and pest-control firms are noticing.
“We are getting literally bombarded with calls about mice. We’ve already started to get them now. Once we get the first couple of frosts, forget it,” said James Byrne, owner of Expert Pest Control in Manchester for three decades.
Both Lincoln and Byrne expect a busier-than-usual fall handling complaints about rodents, especially mice, because things have already been busier than usual.
“Usually in the spring the mice are not as plentiful inside houses. This year, it was all different. People were experiencing a problem in their homes with mice when the mice should have been outside, doing their outdoor activities,” said Lincoln.
“It’s not just mice but rats as well, along with squirrels and chipmunks.”
“We have noticed it more with the rat population. We’re finding them in areas where they are not normally found . when there are no farms or streams around or dumpsters,” Lincoln said.
Byrne echoed that sentiment.
“Rats are all over the place, in the country as well as the city,” he said. Almost more common than usual are calls about squirrels - not just the big gray squirrels but smaller red squirrels and flying squirrels, too.
“Wish I had some scientific thing that said: This is why it’s happening. But I really do not know why,” Byrne said.
The problem first began early in the summer when gardeners started reporting loss of fruits, berries and vegetables to marauding rodents. By late summer the state’s surfeit of roadkill had become front-page news throughout the region.
One apparent cause is a couple of abundant years in nuts, berries and other wild foods in the forests, especially acorns. This helped rodent populations thrive. The region’s drought in the first half of the summer then could have disrupted feeding patterns by rodents, sending them into gardens and buildings in search of food.
Populations of squirrels and other small mammals often rise and fall in cyclical patterns, and New Hampshire may be seeing some of that effect, as well.
Information from: Concord Monitor, http://www.concordmonitor.com