Mice & Rats
The word rodents originates from the Latin word rodere which means to gnaw. Rodents are characterized by a single pair of incisors on both upper and lower jaws that continually grow.
Mice and Rats are two of the most common types of rodents to become a nuisance to humans in both homes and businesses.
The difference between mice and rats to the average person are few if any and the one common sentiment shared among most people towards mice and or rats is complete elimination. Most of us are aware that the droppings of both mice and rats pose as health threat to humans and any evidence or even a thought of their presence is absolutely unacceptable.
House mice can move about your home without being detected for quite some time, destroying wiring and insulation as they make nests within walls and voids. Mice harbor and transport disease with ease and pose as a significant health hazard to humans. For the average person it is often difficult to locate nests and get rid of these pests, however a professional pest control service company can handle the removal of these pests as well as put a stop to any further structural damage.
The house mouse (Mus musculus) has the ability to reproduce very quickly. A single female house mouse can produce up to 8 litters averaging six pups per litter. Their gestation period is 21 days and the mouse pups are hairless, blind and depend on their mother for everything. The pups are weaned at about 21 days, reaching sexual maturity at about 35 days of age and begin mating at six weeks of age.
Size And Appearance
The adult house mouse or is about 20 cm in length from nose to tip of tail and may weigh anywhere from 12 to 30 grams. Their bodies are covered in short hair which may be light brown or gray to black with a lighter color on their bellies. House mice have hair on their ears and tails as well but much less than on their bodies. Droppings are approximately 3-6 mm in length, rod-shaped and pointed on both ends.
Behavior, Habits, & Diet
Typically, the house mouse makes its home in grassy and wooded areas as well as farm fields. They build nests in dark areas that are shielded from the elements in close proximity to a food source. House mice prefer a diet of seeds and nuts but will eat almost anything if necessary.
House mice do not hibernate during the cold weather so when the temperature outdoors starts to drop, they begin searching for warmer locations to make their nests. They are drawn to our homes by the smell of food and and the warmth of structures and will use any opening they can find, such as pipe openings, gaps underneath doors and even utility lines.
Signs Of A House Mouse Infestation
House mice are most active in the evening but it is possible to spot them during the day. They tend to scurry along walls to get to and from their nest to any food sources in the structure.
Other signs that may indicate an infestation of house mice are:
- Droppings-3-6 mm in size, rod-shaped and pointed at both ends
- Footprints-Four toed front footprints and 5 toed back footprints
- Gnawing/Chewing-Shavings and debris on corners of objects of frequently traveled routes
- Sounds-Gnawing and scratching within walls and ceilings as well as squeaking noises especially during evening hours
- Odor-Urine is one way house mice communicate and is also used to mark areas to attract females and keep away other males. A distinct smell of urine may become noticeable if there is a large population or when mice have been present for a long period of time.
The unfortunate thing about rats is that they can move about your home without being detected for quite some time, destroying wiring and insulation as they nest within the walls and voids of a home. They harbor and transport disease easily and pose a significant health hazard in your home.
When the common person thinks about rats they typically get that Hollywood image of sewer rats in their mind, but these rodents are capable of living any place where shelter and food can be obtained. In urban areas (and even rural areas), that often means your home.
When you’re sleeping, they’re feasting and crawling across domestic surfaces in your home – the counter, sink, stove, table, etc as they search for food. They carry a laundry list of diseases that they can spread while turning your home into a buffet.
It’s often difficult to locate nests and get rid of these pests; however a professional service can handle removal of these large rodents to put a stop to the structural damage that rats leave in their wake.
Size & Appearance
Rats are larger in size than common mice, measuring anywhere from 8 to 10 inches in length though they tend to stop at approximately 10 inches. Very rarely will a rat exceed more than a pound in weight. Rats can vary in color depending on their genetic conditioning from gray to brown and even black.
Like mice, rats tend to gather and forage for food in the wild though they will take ready access to easier food sources if it’s available. Unfortunately that tends to be your home, particularly in the fall months where food supplies outdoors begin to grow scarce and disappear.
While mice can slip into the home through very small holes and openings, a rat needs a bit more space – about the size of a quarter. Most people maybelieve that their homes don’t have openings of that size but it’s actually quite common to have roof vents with wide openings and even exterior pipes that can allow rats into a crawl space or wall where they can find their way into the interior of your home.
Impact Of Pests On The Home
The most common damage from rats is where they chew on a home in order to gain access such as on a gable end, a ridge cap or a gable vent. Rats will also chew through pipe insulation as well as wiring and other vents as they infest the home. Any organic material is game, and they can create a number of openings for other pests to enter and gain access to the interior of your home. Unfortunately without a complete inspection it’s difficult to find the access points on your own.
Health Risks Of Pests
The feces and urine of a common mouse can pose a significant health risk. The excrement of a mouse could contain Hantaviruses, LCM (lymphocytic choriomeningitis) virus, or other airborne disease organisms. This can occur in areas that aren’t normally cleaned but can include ventilation systems where disease and organisms can spread easily.
Rats can carry and spread a significant amount of disease and pose a great health risk to homeowners. Here are the primary health concerns with rats:
- Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS)
- Murine Typhus
- Salmonella entericaserovarTyphimurium
- Eosinophilic Meningitis
- Streptobacillus Moniliformis: Acquired through the bite or scratch of a rodent or through ingestion of food or water contaminated with rat feces
Rats tend to gather in a primary area that is safe such as attics, storage areas and basements or crawl spaces. Feces and debris can accumulate and cause contamination in the home posing an airborne health risk, especially if the contamination can be spread through ventilation.