NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – If you hear scurrying around the house, chances are you’re not imagining things.

As WCBS 880’s Monica Miller reported, even rodents need a place to go when the temperatures plummet. As a result, one survey found nearly 3 in 10 homes in the U.S. have rodents.

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In the northeast, 35 percent of survey respondents reported a rodent infestation, the highest percentage in any geographic area.

“Problems with mice and even rats really do become more prevalent in the cold winter months,” said Missy Henriksen with the National Pest Management Association. “The rodents are coming inside looking for their share of the warmth.”

A survey from the NPMA found nearly half of all infestations happen in the fall and winter months.

“If you do see a mouse, more than likely, you’ve got many others around or certainly soon behind. Females can reproduce a dozen babies every three weeks,” said Henriksen.

She said mice can squeeze their bodies through a hole the size of a dime, while rats can get into a space the size of a quarter.

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“About 50 percent of the time, they can be found in the kitchen,” Henriksen told Miller.

The frigid temperatures in the Tri-State area, however, may be shrinking their populations.

“It may just be because some of them are dying off in the cold extreme temperatures that we have been having,” Henriksen said.

The NPMA recommends the following top five rodent-proofing tips:

  • Inspect the outside of your home for easy access points. Seal any cracks and crevices with silicone caulk, paying special attention to areas where utility pipes enter the structure. Remember, mice can enter homes through holes the size of a dime and rats through holes the size of a quarter.
  • Fill larger gaps inside your home with pieces of steel wool, as pests are deterred by the roughness of the steel fibers, especially rodents who are unable to gnaw through the material.
  • Screen attic vents and openings to chimneys, which could serve as potential entryways.
  • Replace weather-stripping and repair loose mortar around the basement’s foundation and windows.
  • Properly landscape around the home to avoid providing pest harborage sites. Keep shrubbery trimmed and ensure mulch is kept at least 15 inches from the foundation.

Henricksen advised leaving the extermination process up to the professionals.

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