ABOUT RODENTS



Rodents are an incredibly large and diverse family. In fact, approximately 40 percent of mammalian species are rodents. Their family name comes from the Latin word rodere, which translates to "to gnaw." That name is fitting; rodents are capable of gnawing their way through a surprising variety of materials.

Some rodents like the capybara are large, but most rodents found in Bucks County, are small. Common species include
the deer mouse, white footed mouse, house mouse, Norway rat and roof rat. Their relatively small size and largely nocturnal habits may make it difficult to notice the initial signs of an infestation. However, rodents are capable of rapid reproduction. With a population explosion, the infestation becomes impossible to ignore.

Rodents are a dangerous species with which to live. They are infamous for their propensity to carry and transmit a variety of illnesses to people, and they create notoriously unsanitary conditions wherever they live. These factors make contacting a licensed exterminator imperative for any Bucks County home or business experiencing rodent problems.

APPEARANCE



Rodents are warm-blooded mammals, most of which have four legs. Their bodies are covered with hair, but their ears and tails may feature either fur or scales. The small deer mouse measures just 12 to 28 centimeters and has a luxurious coat of brown and gray. Many people remark on the fur's resemblance to the fur on a deer, which is how this tiny mammal got its common name.

In general, house mice have darker fur, and they are even smaller than deer mice. With a length of approximately 20 centimeters, it is easy for the house mouse to squeeze into incredibly small spaces. This means that they can disguise their presence for a prolonged period. Sparse fur is found on their tails and ears.

Norway rats grow to a length of about 40 centimeters, making them a fearsome presence in Bucks County homes. A bulky body and shaggy gray or brown fur are among their most distinguishing features. Scales cover their tails and ears.

The roof rat shares some characteristics with the Norway rat. They are similar in size, but the roof rat may appear smaller because of its sleeker, longer body. Tails and ears on the roof rat are noticeably covered in scales.

DIET



Grains, nuts and seeds are among the favorite foods of most of the rodents that are commonly found in Bucks County. Rodents typically can meet their dietary needs in farm fields, pastures and forests. Gardens also may be an important food source.

Rodents generally are considered omnivorous eaters. This means that they do not have to subsist on only a limited number of foods. They may eat a variety of grasses and plants, and even tree bark will suffice. Many rodents eat insects. In the case of the Norway rat, food may be obtained from animal carcasses.

Human foods are enormously appealing to rodents as are pet food and birdseed. In the pantry, rodents will seek bread, seeds, pasta and more. Fruits and vegetables will be sampled, and any sugary foods are likely to be tried as well.

HABITATS



Rodents are small. This means that they are prey for many larger creatures, including people. Accordingly, they like to nest in places that are dark and secluded. Burrowing beneath the grasses in a pasture or making use of a hollow tree are common practices. Tree stumps and the abandoned burrows of other animals also may become rodent nests.

Typically, rodents prefer to nest in fields or forested areas, though they may move into residential and commercial gardens. As temperatures drop in the fall, they may be forced to look for warmer housing and more reliable food sources. This motivates them to move into human habitations.

Rodents build nests out of fur, hair and fibers. Grasses and plants also may be used. Nests tend to be temporary. As each one becomes fouled with waste products, the rodent family moves to another location and begins building another nest. Some species may cache food in their nest or elsewhere.

PROBLEMS WITH RODENTS



As their Latin name suggests, rodents are prodigious gnawers. It may seem as if they can chew through virtually anything. Paper, plastic and cardboard food packaging are no match for their determination. Rodents also are known to gnaw on wood, sheetrock, roofing shingles and plumbing pipes. Notoriously, they will chew right through electrical wires, and this has been the cause of more than one fire in a home or office.

Many people feel an instinctive revulsion toward rodents. This is partly because these pests are known to transmit various illnesses to people. The other part of this revulsion likely comes from the knowledge that rodents are dirty. They spread filth everywhere they go, leaving homeowners to feel as if their home will never be clean again.

BEHAVIOR



As relatively small creatures, it is typical for rodents to behave with caution around people. They would prefer to avoid a confrontation, which leads them to scurry away when the presence of a person is detected. The need to avoid possible predators causes the rodent to travel in the space behind walls or beneath the overhang of floor-mounted cabinets. In fact, rodents nearly always prefer to walk along a wall rather than out in the open because they feel that it affords them some protection.

While rodents may prefer to avoid people, occasional encounters are inevitable, especially if the rodent population becomes quite large. When startled or provoked, the rodent may react aggressively. Scratches and bites are common under these circumstances.

HEALTH ISSUES



Rodents have a poor reputation when it comes to health issues. Famous for helping to spread the notorious plagues in Europe centuries ago, rodents may still carry this disease. However, other illnesses are more common. These include salmonellosis, rat-bite fever, Hantavirus and Lyme disease. Some of these diseases are transmitted directly by the rodent while others are brought by the fleas, ticks and other pests that may be using a rodent as a host. Similarly, rodent waste products can easily cause sickness.

SIGNS OF A RODENT INFESTATION



The following signs could indicate a rodent presence:

• Grease marks on walls left by rodent hair
• Sounds of scurrying, rustling and squeaking behind walls
• Nesting materials and a clutch of babies in drawers or cupboards
• Rodent droppings found indoors
• Food packaging that shows evidence of gnawing

PREVENTION TIPS



To help prevent an issue with rodents, the following precautions should be exercised:

• Cover or seal all small openings and holes in building exteriors
• Move yard debris and woodpiles well away from structures
• Trim trees, bushes and shrubs so that they do not touch buildings
• Do not leave pet food out other than at meal times
• Store all food in glass or metal containers with tight lids
• Keep all garbage cans clean
• Ensure that all garbage cans have tight lids
• Get rid of clutter indoors and out to eliminate hiding and nesting places

RODENT CONTROL



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 Bucks County home or office, and then proceed to implementing the best, most effective treatments.

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