Few pests that are commonly found in the Bristol area can be considered as destructive and dangerous as rodents. Around the world, there are more than 2,000 species belonging to the rodent family. Some of the most frequently seen species in the local region are the deer mouse, white footed mouse, house mouse, Norway rat and roof rat.
Rodents have sharp teeth and relatively strong jaws. Because their teeth continuously grow, they must gnaw to keep them in check. Accordingly, rodents gnaw through a variety of materials that are used in the construction of human habitations. When an infestation is allowed to continue for an extended period, the damage caused may be significant.
Moreover, rodents are notorious for their propensity to spread illness to people and pets. These unclean animals also leave a trail of filth wherever they roam, compromising the cleanliness of human homes. Because of the structural damage they cause and the diseases they carry, it is vital that rodent infestations be eliminated with all possible speed.
Many of the mice and rats that are most frequently seen in the Bristol area are difficult to distinguish. They all are four-footed mammals that are largely covered in fur. Sharp, oversized front teeth are another shared characteristic.
Deer mice are just 28 centimeters long. Their name derives from the fact that their grayish-brown fur looks similar to the hair on a deer. White fur covers this mouse's belly.
White-footed mice are just slightly smaller than deer mice and have brown or gray fur on their backs. Their feet and bellies are more distinctively white than on deer mice, and there may be a more reddish cast to the fur on the backs of their bodies.
House mice are similar in size to white-footed mice, but they generally have darker fur than either deer mice or white-footed mice. Their tail and ears are only sparsely covered with fur.
The Norway rat has a blocky body shape that may be as long as 40 centimeters. Covered in shaggy brown or gray fur, the Norway rat has a pointed face. Scaly skin covers their tails and ears.
Sleeker than the Norway rat, the roof rat can grow to be a similar size to its cousin. Smooth brown or black hair covers their bodies, but, like Norway rats, the tail and ears are covered in scales.
Some rodents, especially the mice that are commonly found throughout the Bristol area, are essentially vegetarians. Their staple foods include nuts, grains and seeds. They will eat plants, mushrooms and leaves as well as fruits and vegetables.
Other rodents, like many rats, will eat these foods and others besides. Rats may eat a variety of insects and small animals. Some even eat small fish.
Rodent dietary habits have much in common with people. This means that common foods like cereal, pasta, grains, nuts and seeds all will be targeted. Peanut butter, jelly, syrup honey and pet food also are consumed by rodents.
Because rodents tend to be among the smaller mammals in the population of local wildlife and because they seek to protect themselves from people, rodent nests typically are well hidden. In the wild, they may use an underground burrow or a hollow tree. Nests generally offer shelter from the elements and a place to raise young. Ideally, they are placed close to sources of food and water.
Human habitations provide a wide variety of nesting choices for rodents. Dark, secluded areas like attics, basements, crawl spaces and wall voids are preferred. Nests may be placed beneath kitchen appliances, burrowed into upholstered furniture or simply in the back of a cupboard or drawer.
PROBLEMS WITH RODENTS
The rodent's habit of incessant chewing causes most of the damage to structures. When they find a small opening in the exterior of a building, they may gnaw on it to make it larger so that they can gain access to the interior. Once inside, the chewing does not stop. Sheetrock, plywood, wallpaper and many other materials may be vulnerable to rodent teeth. These small mammals also are known to chew through window and door screens, electrical wire and plastic plumbing pipes. With the risk for fires and water leaks, it is imperative that property owners act quickly to address the situation.
In general, rodents are most active at night. When populations are especially large, it is more common to see them during the day. They may travel quite far from their nest in the search for food, and once they discover a source, they will repeatedly return to it.
Rodents prefer to avoid human notice as much as possible. Accordingly, they are more likely to run or hide when confronted. This does not mean that an aggressive reaction will not happen. A rodent that is inadvertently cornered may fight back with teeth and claws. Because rodents are unhygienic animals that may carry a variety of diseases, it is essential that all injuries received from a rodent be examined by a doctor.
Most famously, rodents are known to transmit the plague to people. Rarely seen in the U.S. now, other diseases are more frequently spread by rodents in the Bristol area. These include hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, which may be deadly.
Because they are hosts to fleas, rodents may be responsible for spreading illnesses such as lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus and Lyme disease. Food poisoning is the illness that is probably most frequently associated with rodents in human homes.
SIGNS OF A RODENT INFESTATION
Rodent control may be necessary when the following signs are present:
• Visual sightings inside or around the perimeter of buildings • Rodent droppings or urine discovered inside structures • Sounds of rustling or squeaking behind walls • Tooth and gnaw marks on food packaging
Rodent control may be prevented needed when these precautions are taken:
• Do not leave food, crumbs or spills on counters or tables • Immediately repair plumbing leaks • Store food in glass or metal containers • Keep gardens and lawns trimmed • Cover or seal any openings in building exteriors • Regularly clean garbage cans • Do not keep large amounts of cardboard on the property
Rodents are a serious threat to the health of people and pets. Because they spread numerous illnesses, cause food poisoning and chew through a variety of materials, their presence may represent unhygienic conditions and the need for extensive repairs.
Determining the difference between a mouse and a rat is a homeowner’s main dilemma where extermination is concerned. That is because species identification can play a crucial role in successfully eliminating a rodent problem.
If you suspect a rodent control issue, call the professional team of licensed exterminators at SafeGuard Pest Control, LLC today. We can determine if you have a mouse or rat problem in your Bristol home or office, and then proceed to implementing the best, most effective treatments.