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Pest Control for Mice and Rats

[column place=”first” width=”six” custom_class=””] [dropcap]R[/dropcap]ats and mice are the most abundant and therefore the more annoying and destructive of all rodents the homeowner or business owner may encounter. Throughout history, they have been responsible for more human illnesses and deaths than any other mammals. The most common are the Norway Rat, the Roof Rat and the House Mouse.

Preventions:

  • Removal of Shelter.
  • Removal of Water and Food.
  • Use of Rodenticides.
  • Sealing possible entries to a building.
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Removal of Shelter

Piles of timber or fire wood, rubbish or other materials can be shelters for rats. Rubbish, such as empty boxes and cartons, should be discarded of promptly. Stored materials should be at least 18 inches off the ground or floor, and with space between the material and the wall.

Removal of Water and Food

The best way to eliminate the food supply of rats and mice is to store food in glass or metal containers, and to put garbage in tightly covered rubbish bins. Repair leaky taps and remove any water that rodents have access to.

Use of Rodenticides

One effective way of destroying rats and mice, and the one most generally recommended, is the use of rodenticides. There are many different kinds of rodenticides available.

Sealing Possible Entries to a Building

All openings rodents can enter should be covered with rat-resistant materials such as hardware cloth or steel wool. Doors should be closed when not in use, and all edges subject to gnawing should be covered with metal. Unnecessary openings should be covered with concrete or sheet metal. Concrete also can be used to prevent rats from burrowing under foundations.

– Rats and Mice can be found in homes, farms, sheds and garages.


They are offensive in many ways:

  • They eat and contaminate all types of food.
  • They damage and destroy property.
  • They carry diseases that are health hazards to both humans and animals—diseases such as typhus fever, Trichinosis, plague, infectious jaundice, Salmonella food infections, and rat mite dermatitis.



Identification of a rat and/or mouse infestation:


The signs of a rat or mouse infestation include droppings, tracks in the moist earth or dusty places, and burrows in the ground. There will be signs of gnawing and runways in the grass or through trash. You also can smell the presence of rats and mice, especially in a poorly ventilated room.


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Roof Rat (Black Rat)

The Roof Rat is the smaller of the pest rats and is of slighter build. It has a more pointed snout, large prominent ears and a longer tail than its body length. It normally lives 9-12 months and may have 4-5 litters per year (each with 6-8 young). The young achieve sexual maturity at 3-4 months.

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The Roof Rat is often restricted to the indoors of premises and to areas around seaports. While Norway Rats are very suitable to rural life, where burrowing is advantageous, Roof Rats tend to be more restricted to city life, where their excellent climbing abilities avail them of numerous nesting sites often in the upper parts of tall buildings. This ability also facilitates their crossing from one building to another via connecting cables. Within buildings, Roof Rats are likely to nest in wall and roof voids, but they may range and feed freely all over the building. Outdoors they may nest among vines and trees, but they seldom burrow. They commonly infest ships.

Although Roof Rats are usually described as omnivorous, in practice they seem to consume a high proportion of vegetable and fruit material. Where they have ready access to foods with such a high moisture content, it is likely that they have a much reduced need for free water.

The Roof Rat can live in somewhat similar locations to those preferred by the Norway Rat; but if territories overlap, it is likely that the Roof Rat will be driven out.

Habits – Roof rats live in close association with man. They seldom become established as feral animals as do the Norway rats.

They inhabit grocery stores , warehouses, feed stores, and poultry houses and are very common in cotton gins and associated grain warehouses. They may live near the ground, but usually they frequent the attics, rafters, and crossbeams of the buildings. They make typical runways along pipes, beams or wires, up and down the studding, or along the horizontal ceiling joists, often leaving a dark-colored layer of grease and dirt to mark their travel ways.

Like the Norway rat , the roof rat is largely nocturnal and only where populations are relatively high does one see them frequently in the daytime.

They feed on a wide variety of food items , including grains, meats, and almost any item that has nutritional value.

Roof rats breed throughout the year , with two peaks of production. The gestation period is approximately 21 days, and the number of young per litter averages almost seven. They mature rather rapidly, are weaned when about 3 weeks old, and are able to reproduce when approximately 3 months old.

The roof rat is destructive to property and foodstuffs. Also, it plays an important part in the transmission of such human diseases as endemic typhus, rat bite fever, and bubonic plague.


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Norway Rat (Common Rat)

The Norway Rat is the larger of the pest rats and has a thickset body, blunt snout, small close-set ears and a tail shorter than the length of its body. It normally lives 9-12 months and may have 5-6 litters per year (each with 8-10 young). The young achieve sexual maturity at 3-4 months. Clearly, its reproductive potential is very high.

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The Norway Rat is very widespread in Melbourne, and is possibly the most economically detrimental pest rodent in Australia. It infests warehouses, factories, flour mills, poultry farms, garbage dumps, shops, supermarkets, domestic premises, grain storage facilities, sewers and many other locations that offer shelter and food. Outside buildings, these rats mostly live in burrows, which tunnel into stream banks, under buildings, under rubbish heaps and so on. Burrows commonly have ‘bolt holes’ hidden under debris or grass to facilitate fast emergency exits. They may enter buildings just for food, reside in buildings during the colder winter months, or live in buildings all year round. Nests in buildings are mostly located in wall voids, roof voids and other parts of the construction that offer a secretive, undisturbed area for shelter and access to food and water.

Norway Rats are typically omnivorous in their feeding habits and will eat all human and animal foods and feedstock’s. They do need regular access to liquid water; so in conditions where their food is low in moisture and available water is minimal, liquid bait preparations may be effective.

Norway Rats are very much creatures of habit, and once they have explored a new environment, they establish quite rigid traveling routes. Being neophobic, they may take some days to adjust to new objects such as bait stations and traps.

In cases where the territory of Norway Rats overlaps that with other rodent species, it is entirely likely that the Norway Rat will become the dominant species, often driving others out of the area.


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Common House Mouse

The House Mouse is small and has rather large ears, a pointed snout and a tail at least as long as its body length. House mice living indoors are usually a darkish gray colour, with lighter gray on the belly, while those living mainly outdoors tend to a more sandy or yellow brown colouring – hence the reference to ‘field mice’. They tend to live for about 1 year and may have 6-10 litters per year (each with 5-6 young). The young achieve sexual maturity at about 6 weeks.

The House Mouse may live indoors or outdoors

The House Mouse may live indoors or outdoors, sometimes entering buildings only when climatic conditions are adverse. Being such small animals, their access into buildings is probably easier than is the case for rats and a greater range of nesting sites is available to them. Typically, within buildings they may nest in wall voids, cupboards, roof voids, stored foods, furniture and many other locations. Outdoors they live in burrows.

In their general behavior, mice are much more curious and exploratory than rats, so trapping programs for mouse control can often be very effective. They are very good climbers, jumpers and swimmers, although they do not seem to swim very often.

In their feeding habits, mice are generally regarded as being quite omnivorous. A variety of foods (eg. nuts, grains, meat and animal feeds) may all be acceptable on baits or traps, depending on the main diet of the resident population. They are well adapted to low water intake and can live on just the moisture in grain without any supplementary intake of water. Preferably, though, they seem to enjoy dry cereals if free water is available. Mixing of certain baits with water can make them very attractive. Mice feed mostly around dusk and during the night, but if the area is relatively undisturbed, they may feed during the day as well. They seem to prefer to eat small amounts of food at various locations and at frequent intervals. Even though they do not directly consume large amounts of food, damage due to gnawing, nibbling and contamination with urine and feces can be very widespread. In most cases, mice are not as suspicious of new food (baits) as rats.

In rural areas the occasional combination of mild weather, abundant food and shelter, and a reduction of natural enemies may cause mice to multiply to plague proportions, and then to migrate. Massive migrations can cause very significant damage and losses to farms and other buildings.


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Rodent Control Methods

Pest control operators called to control rodents infesting a building may choose to use one method, or a combination of methods, depending on the circumstances.

Procedures may include the following:

  • Sanitation – reducing the food and shelter available for rodent activity.
  • Rodent-proofing – altering the building structurally so that rodents cannot gain entry.
  • Trapping – using traps to capture rodents.
  • Chemical control – baiting with multiple or single dose anticoagulant rodenticides.


The control of some high-health risk, large scale rodent infestations may require the implementation of several of the procedures outlined above. In dealing with all rodent problems, however, irrespective of the type of control treatment undertaken, the observant operator will always look for signs of poor sanitation and hygiene practices that, unless corrected, will continue to invite these unwelcome visitors.
 

Non-chemical control


Sanitation
It is quite reasonable to suppose that decreasing the food and shelter available to a given population of rodents is likely to lead to more competition between individuals and, eventually, to a decline in the number of rodent present. This aspect of rodent control often involves a largely educational component, whereby the pest control operator, following a thorough inspection of the premises, may advise the client about hygiene and sanitation in relation to rodent infestation. The operator may advise the use of sound garbage containers with tight fitting lids, a clean-up of rubbish heaps and overgrown weeds around the building, or cleaning of the building immediately after the day’s work is completed, rather than on the following morning.

Each situation will be different, so each should be carefully inspected and assessed and then sound advice given. The operator, while inspecting and questioning, will be constantly looking for conditions of food and shelter that may help to sustain a rodent population. The importance of achieving and maintaining a high standard of hygiene and sanitation, in relation to the control or prevention of rodent infestation, cannot be overemphasized.

House mice feed on practically any type of food

House mice feed on practically any type of food suitable for the use of man or beast. They are particularly obnoxious around granaries, feed houses, and stores and may do considerable damage in destroying or contaminating food supplies intended for human consumption. In addition they will feed on such animal matter as insects and meat when available.

These mice are exceedingly prolific breeders.

As many as 13 litters can be produced in one year. The number of young per litter averages about six. The gestation period is approximately 19 days, varying from 18 to 20. At birth the young mice are nearly naked with their eyes and ears closed. They develop rapidly; at the age of 3 weeks they are fully weaned and at the age of 4 weeks some of the young females are ready to assume family duties, although the average age of sexual maturity is about 35 days in females and 60 days in males. Breeding occurs throughout the year although it is somewhat curtailed in the colder months.

Although these mice are destructive

Although these mice are destructive when allowed to run free, they are widely used in laboratories as subjects for biological, genetic, and medical studies. When ranging free, however, they do a considerable amount of damage although they are not nearly as troublesome as the introduced rat.


Pest Control for Mouse and Rats

Have your house free from those pesky Mouose and Rats.