The Norway rat (Rattus norvegicus, also called the brown rat or sewer rat) is a destructive pest found in urban and suburban neighborhoods. These rodents eat and contaminate food, damage buildings and other property by their gnawing and burrowing, and may spread diseases that affect people and pets.
Recognizing Rat Infestations
The presence of rats can be detected by droppings or evidence of fresh gnawing. Tracks can be seen in mud and on dusty surfaces. Runways and burrows may be found next to buildings, along fences or railroad tracks, and under low vegetation and debris
Norway rats are husky, brownish rodents that weigh about 11 ounces. They are about 13 to 18 inches long including the 6 to 8 1/2 inch tail. Their fur is coarse and mostly brown with scattered black on the upper surfaces. The underside is typically grey to yellowish-white.
Rats will eat nearly any type of food, but they prefer high-quality foods such as meat and fresh grain. Rats require 1/2 to 1 fluid ounce of water daily when feeding on dry food. Rats have keen taste, hearing and sense of smell. They will climb to find food or shelter, and they can gain entrance to a building through any opening larger than 1/2 inch across.
Rats have litters of 6 to 12 young, which are born 21 to 23 days after mating. Young rats reach reproductive maturity in about three months. Breeding is most active in spring and fall. The average female has four to six litters per year. Rats can live for up to 18 months, but most die before they are one year old.
Green Pest Solutions will utilize trapping in structures where only a few rats are present. Trapping is an effective method of control. It is the preferred method in homes, garages and other structures where only a few rats are present. Trapping has several advantages: 1) it does not rely on inherently hazardous poisons; 2) it permits the user to determine if the rat was killed and 3) it allows for disposal of rat carcasses, thus eliminating odor problems that may occur when poisoning is done within buildings. However, trapping is useless if the procedures to prevent reinfestation are not followed.
In rare cases rodenticides may be used for control purposes
Roof rats, R. rattus, sometimes called black rats, are slightly smaller than Norway rats. Unlike Norway rats, their tails are longer than their heads and bodies combined. Roof rats are agile climbers and usually live and nest above ground in shrubs, trees, and dense vegetation such as ivy. In buildings, they are most often found in enclosed or elevated spaces such as attics, walls, false ceilings, and cabinets.
House mice are small rodents with relatively large ears and small, black eyes. They weigh about 1/2 ounce and usually are light brownish to gray. An adult is about 5 to 7 inches long, including the 3- to 4-inch tail. Droppings, fresh gnaw marks, and tracks indicate areas where mice are active. Mouse nests are made from finely shredded paper or other fibrous material, usually in sheltered locations. House mice have a characteristic musky odor that reveals their presence. Mice are active mostly at night, but they can be seen occasionally during daylight hours.
Controlling House Mice
Because house mice are so small, they can gain entry into homes and other buildings much more easily than rats. As a result, house mouse infestations are probably 10 to 20 times more common than rat infestations. Effective control involves sanitation, exclusion, and population reduction. Sanitation and exclusion are preventive measures. When a mouse infestation already exists, some form of population reduction such as trapping or baiting is almost always necessary.
A key to successful long-term mouse control is limiting shelter and food sources wherever possible. Trapping works well, especially when a sufficient number of traps are placed in strategic locations. Trapping also can be used as a follow-up measure after a baiting program. When considering a baiting program, decide if the presence of dead mice will cause an odor or sanitation problem. If so, trapping may be the best approach. After removing mice, take steps to exclude them so that the problem doesn’t recur. Several types of rodenticides are available, which can be purchased as ready-to-use baits that typically are labeled for use against only house mice, Norway rats (Rattus norvegicus), and roof rats (R. rattus). Because all rodenticides are toxic to humans, pets, and wildlife, take special precautions to prevent access to baits by children and nontarget animals.
Trapping is an effective method for controlling small numbers of house mice. Although time consuming, it’s the preferred method in homes, garages, and other structures where only a few mice are present. Trapping has several advantages as it doesn’t rely on potentially hazardous rodenticides, it permits the user to view his or her success, and it allows for disposing of trapped mice, thereby eliminating dead mouse odors that may result when poisoning is done within buildings. Snap traps are effective and can be purchased in most hardware and grocery stores. The simple, wooden mouse-size snap trap is the least expensive option, but some people prefer the newer plastic, single-kill mousetraps because they are easier to set and clean. Snap traps with large plastic treadles are especially effective, but finding the best locations to set traps is often more important than what type of trap is used. Traps can be baited with a variety of foods; peanut butter is the most popular, because it is easy to use and very attractive to mice.
In rare cases rodenticides may be used for control purposes.
*Illinois Department of Health source
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