Cotton Rats are Ravenous Pests and Can Decimate Crops

These Pests Are Especially Common Across the Southern US

Cotton rats they will eat almost anything, including alfalfa, grains, grasses, vegetables, peanuts, fruit crops, sweet potatoes, and sugar beets. Thanks to their tendency for seed poaching, cotton rats can decimate an entire season’s crops before them even have a chance to sprout.

Cotton rats are especially destructive when it comes to sugarcane and melon, as they tend to favor the natural sugars in both foods. In some cases, cotton rats will eat quail eggs, severely impacting the quail population in a given area. To make matters worse, cotton mice are often in competition with quail for a lot of the same food sources.

The cotton rat makes its home across most of the southern United States, including all parts of Texas, as well as most parts of Mexico. Cotton rats are distinguished from other species by their small internal cheek pouches, much like those of the chipmunk, which they use for carrying seeds.

In many instances, the cotton rat will move from farms and fields to gardens and lawns if the opportunity presents itself. While, in most cases, cotton rats are outdoor pests, it’s not unknown for them to enter homes and other structures if food is readily available. They’ve been known to infest outbuildings like barns, sheds, garages, and other similar structures. Other seldom used buildings like lake or hunting cabins are also prime targets for cotton rats.

Like other species of rats and mice, cotton rats are prolific breeders, and, if an infestation is not caught early on, it can increase in severity at an exponential rate. Females can produce up to nine litters per year, and have about five to seven babies per litter. The young cotton rats reach maturity in about a month, at which point they’re ready to find mates of their own. When resources are plentiful, there’s really no limit to the number of rats that a population can sustain.

Signs of cotton rat activity include the appearance of nests or burrows, likely make out of grasses or weeds, and often with multiple entrances. Cotton rats generally nest directly on the ground or in shallow burrows, and tend to make trails in the grass, similar to ruts, wherever they travel.

Cotton rats have the ability to transmit hantavirus, meaning that extreme caution should be taken when handling dead rats, their nests, or their feces. Most experts recommend making sure that grass and weeds near structures is kept as short as possible, and that all holes and openings in outbuildings are sealed as a means of keeping an infestation of cotton rats at bay.

Cantu Pest Control is proud to be the first company in Texas to offer a Green Shield Certified Service. Our Dallas cotton rat removal experts are excited to offer Green Shield Certified pest services to our customers in search of a more prevention-based solution to their pest removal and on-going pest management needs while minimizing the use of pesticides.

If cotton rats have made unwanted appearances around your home, call Cantu Pest Control at 972-885-3618 (Dallas and Fort Worth areas) or 713-999-3495 (Houston area) and schedule an appointment today with one of our friendly, experienced cotton rat removal experts.