Rodents such as mice, rats, squirrels, and chipmunks, are diverse and prolific creatures. Making up 40% of all mammals, many homes and businesses are faced with a rodent infestation, usually involving mice or rats. The most frequently encountered mice and rats in Warwick and throughout most of Pennsylvania and New Jersey, are the Norway rat, roof rat, house mouse, deer mouse, and the white footed mouse.
Rats and mice vary a great deal in appearance. Rats are large, they can grow to be 20 inches long and weigh over one pound. They have round heads, thick tails, and small ears and eyes. Rats exhibit a ragged black color that is often described as “agouti.”
Mice are smaller than rats and normally don’t grow beyond 8 inches. Their heads are more triangular in shape, and they have thin tails, large eyes and pointy snouts. Mice can range in color from white all the way to black, depending on the species.
Rats and mice are omnivores, just as humans are. This means they will and can eat everything humans do including sugary sweets and scraps of meat. Both mice and rats prefer to eat fruit, seeds, and grains. If food is scarce, these rodents will choose cannibalization. They can also live without a direct water source if moisture is present in their solid food.
Mice prefer to make their nests outside in grasslands and in the forest. Some will even burrow underground. However, when the weather starts turning cold, mice will find their way inside of human-built structures for warmth and protection. These nests can be between walls, inside cupboards, and drawers that aren’t frequently used.
Rats prefer higher locations such as in attics, crawl spaces, and in rafters.
PROBLEMS WITH RODENTS
Rodents sharpen their incisors by continually gnawing on various materials. When rats and mice have infested a home, they tend to gnaw on wood, creating the possibility for great structural damage. They can also gnaw on pipes, insulation, drywall, and more. One of the biggest hazards caused by rodents’ gnawing is fire. They often chew through electrical wiring, causing a dangerous fire hazard. Farmers and agriculturalists know that rats are capable of causing widespread crop destruction.
Also, the feces, urine and hair that are left behind by rats and mice can contaminate both pet and human food, causing damaging health issues.
Rodents are territorial creatures and will claim a large space as their own. However, mice and rats are nocturnal and typically forage at night when the risk is low for human encounters. As such, rodents are not generally aggressive unless they feel threatened by humans or pets.
Rodents such as rats and mice can cause serious illness and even death in humans from gastric and respiratory issues related to contaminated rat or mouse droppings or urine. Such illnesses include Tularemia, Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome, Plague, Rat-Bite Fever, Salmonellosis, LCM (Lymphocyctic Chorio-Meningitis), and Leptospirosis.
Rats and mice also carry parasites such as mites, fleas, and ticks, that are vectors for diseases including Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Lyme Disease, Colorado Tick Fever, Serogroup Viruses, Western Equine Encephalitis, and Babesiosis.
SIGNS OF A RODENT INFESTATION
Unless driven by excessive hunger or thirst, mice and rats will only emerge from their nests at night. Even though the rodents might never be spotted, there are clues that point to an infestation:
• The presence of droppings - they resemble black grains of rice - and they are usually found in food areas such as pantries, in cabinets, under sinks, in kitchen drawers, etc. • The existence of material that has been shredded (due to gnawing). This material might be plant material, fabric, paper, etc. • Food product packaging that has been chewed. • Holes in the floor or walls where mice exit and enter.
The most effective method to prevent a rodent infestation is to keep the home and yard area sanitary. It should be free of clutter (where rodents can easily burrow and hide), and all utility entryways into the home should be properly and tightly sealed. Rodents, mice especially because they are smaller, can enter a building where there is just a quarter of an inch gap.
All food should be sealed in air-tight containers, including pet food, bird seed, etc. Also, it is advisable to remove any leaf piles and mulch in the yard, where rodents can easily nest.
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 Warwick home or office, and then proceed to implementing the best, most effective treatments.