Pest Control – Rodents
Rodents include mice, rats, squirrels, porcupines, beavers, guinea pigs, and hamsters. Rodents use their sharp incisors to gnaw wood, break into food, and bite predators. Most rodents eat seeds or plants, though some have more varied diets. Some species have historically been pests, eating seeds stored by people and spreading disease.
Rats are various medium-sized, long-tailed rodents of the superfamily Muroidea. “True rats” are members of the genus Rattus, the most important of which to humans are the black rat, and the brown rat. Many members of other rodent genera and families are, also referred to as rats and share many characteristics with true rats.
Rats are typically distinguished from mice by their size; rats are generally large rodents, while mice are generally small rodents. The rodent’s family is very large and complex, and the common terms rat and mouse are not taxonomically specific. Generally, when someone discovers a large rodent, its common name includes the term rat, while if it is small, the name includes the term mouse. Scientifically, the terms are not confined to members of the Rattus and Mus genera,
The best-known rat species are the black rat and the brown rat. The group is generally known as the Old World rats or true rats, and originated in Asia. Rats are bigger than most Old World mice, which are their relatives, but seldom weigh over 500 grams (1.1 lb) in the wild.
The average lifespan of any given rat depends on which species is being discussed, but many only live about a year due to predation.
Rats became commensally with humans remains unsettled, but as a species, they have spread and established themselves along routes of human migration and now live almost everywhere humans are.
Common Conflicts and Solutions
Food: Rats will eat anything a human will, and more. Worse damage is done by their urine and feces, which are left behind on any uneaten food.
Burrows: Although rats may create damage with their borrowing, it is usually more superficial than structural.
Public Health: Rats can carry many diseases that are harmful to people.
Tolerating rats is not something many people want to do. For many reasons, people and rats are unlikely to coexist peacefully. But coexist we will, as perhaps more than any other wild animal, rats have adapted to living among humans. That we do not generally tolerate their presence does not mean that we need to use dangerous and inhumane methods to destroy them — or accept a no-holds-barred way of controlling their numbers.
The best way to control rats is to discourage them from taking up residence in the first place. Typically, conditions that support high rat populations are left until there is a real crisis at hand. Then the poisons are used or trapping employed to reduce the population, only to leave unaddressed the cause of the problem in the first place. Any effort to limit rat populations must be followed by taking the necessary steps—exclusion and sanitation—to make sure the same problems never happen again.
Identifying rat signs
Gnawed holes up to two inches wide in baseboards or at doorframes (indicates they have been there a while).
Smudge marks (body oils) on walls.
Sounds of movement in walls and attics.
The family pet staring intently at a blank wall.
Burrows may indicate the presence of rats, but could also indicate other burrowing animals such as chipmunks. Never attempt to control a wildlife problem without being sure what species of wildlife you are dealing with.
To find out if the burrow is in current use, loosely fill it with soil or leaves and check it in a day or two to see if it has been re-opened.
Good sanitation is the best and economical way to control rats.
Public health concerns
Rats are considered as carriers or transmitters of more human diseases than any other life form, except maybe the mosquito. Some of the diseases that can be spread from rats to people are bubonic and pneumonic plague, murine typhus, salmonella, leptospirosis, Hantavirus, and tularemia.
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