What if rodents took over the world? Or, what if they were twice as large as they are? In the movie The Princess Bride, the two main characters, enter a dangerous forest. The concerned Princess Bride asks Westley, “What about the ‘ROUS’s’?” Westley replies, “Rodents of unusual size? I don’t think they exist.” Less than one second later, Westley is attacked by a giant, four-foot long mole.
Technically, moles are not rodents (they are insectivores). But rats, mice, voles, and squirrels are. Fortunately, such ROUS’s only exist in the movies. Be thankful that there are no four foot long rats roaming the streets and getting into our homes.
So, expel a sigh of relief. There are a lot of rodents in the world, but not enough to take over. Yet, when rodents appear in your house and/or yard it may seem like they have taken over. You may feel overwhelmed and helpless to solve the issue. This article will help you understand common rodents that may invade your living space, and how to deal with them when they invade.
In New York City, rats outnumber residents two to one, according to some reports.
What is a Rodent?
Rodents (Rodentia) are small mammals, generally characterized by robust bodies, short limbs, and long tails. In addition, they have a single pair of continuously growing incisors in each of the upper and lower jaws.
A short list of rodents include chipmunks, marmots, woodchucks, squirrels, prairie dogs, gophers, mice, rats, gerbils, hamsters, lemmings, voles, porcupines, capybaras, agouti, guinea pigs, chinchillas, and even beavers.
The Rat Problem
Rats are considered pests because of a few major reasons, since they:
- Consume and damage human foods in fields, houses, and stores.
- Gnaw and burrow, destroyong many articles (packaging, clothing and furniture) and structures (floors, buildings, bridges, etc.).
- Can even cause fires by gnawing through electrical cables.
- Are responsible for transmitting dangerous diseases to humanity.
Common Rats in the United States
There are two common rats in the United States:
- The Norway Rat – Otherwise known as the brown, sewer, or common rat.
- The Roof rat – Brown with black intermixed and a gray, white or black underbelly.
These rats and mice are warm-blooded so they seek out warm areas to habituate such as attics, under porches, and in wall voids. While inside mice can contaminate ten times more food than they consume themselves and rats transfer parasites from their bodies into your home or place of business.
As for reproduction, rats and mice are among the most fertile rodents. Some can produce up to sixty-three offspring a year!
The Positive Side
So with all the negatives concerning rodents, especially rats and mice, are there any positive aspects of these pests? Yep.
1) Rats make great pets for many reasons including:
- Rats are small and easy to care for.
- Rats are actually clean animals when not from the wild.
- Rats are smart and can even be trained.
- Rats are easy to feed.
- Rats have personality and can become content companions to their owners.
2) This next point is controversial, but rats and mice have increased human life substantially as objects of scientific experimentations. Since 1895 Rats have been used to help humankind understand genetics, diseases, the effects of drugs, and even psychological behavior.
How to Control Pest Rodents
Now back to rodents as pests. If you suspect you might have rats or mice problem (such as evidence of burrowing, droppings, or food eaten), here are a few steps to prevent infestation:
- Repair and seal walls in your home or store.
- Remove food from areas that are accessible for rats and mice, such as on top of fridge, under the sink, or on the floor.
- Clean your house thoroughly. Take out trash regularly and keep lids on trash cans.
Get rid of unnecessary storage boxes that would provide warmth and shelter for them.
If an infestation of rats/mice is certain you can take a few different actions to eliminate them.
Traps – these can vary from a simple mechanical trap to an electronic multiple rat-trap. (Keep in mind, however, that the death of these rodents will happen. If you are squeamish over dead rodents then you may want to have someone else empty the traps).
Baits – This technique allows one to get deeper into areas where rats and mice may live. Poison baits are designed to entice the rats/mice to eat and then die after the first serving.
One major downfall to using poison is that your pets and small children may come in contact with the baits. Pest management professionals know how to properly conceal the baits to keep children and pets from coming in contact with them.
Exclusion is the best method of prevention. Mice can fit through spaces as small as a dime and rats can fit into spaces the size of a quarter. If a mouse or rat can squeeze its head into even the smallest of openings, it can fit the rest of its body through as well.
Sanitation is one way to discourage mouse infestation. Mice are attracted to areas where a food source is abundant. Any area in which food is stored is a potential area for infestation.
Homeowners can employ these methods of control by buying control and exclusion products. A pest control operator, however, can make a thorough inspection, noting potential entry points and employing the best methods based on the unique situation of the house or structure.
Interesting Mice Facts:
- Mice can spread a virus by “aerosolizing” its urine onto surfaces. Use gloves and wear a respirator when cleaning infected areas.
- Deer mice feed up to twenty times a day, eating bugs, seeds, berries and more.
- The female house mouse can have up to ten litters per year, consisting of 5-6 young per litter.
- Mice can climb just about any vertical surface, easily entering homes not just at ground level, but even at the attic level.
- Are good swimmers and can even dive into water.
- Can climb up most vertical surfaces, making it possible to enter attics.