The word rodent means to "to gnaw." We will mostly be reviewing the type of rodent called "commensal rodent." The word commensal means "sharing one's table." The three types of commensal rodents are the House Mouse, the Norway Rat, and the Roof Rat. These rodents carry diseases and eat and contaminate our food. These rodents co-exist with humans and closely associate with human habitats for food, water, and shelter. If living conditions for the rodents (food, water, and shelter), are right, they can multiply quickly. In your rodent control program, the essential first step is to eliminate or control their food, water and shelter provisions. After this first step, use the methods of trapping and baiting to get rid of the rodent population. Other types of rodents, such as the white-footed mouse, deer mouse, harvest mouse, pocket mouse, or pack rats may enter buildings, particularly if they are near wooded areas or fields.
Other types of rodents, such as the white-footed mouse, deer mouse, harvest mouse, pocket mouse, or pack rats may enter buildings, particularly if they are near wooded areas or fields.
Do I Have Mice or Rats? Tips for Identification
Size Difference Between Mice and Rats
Rats are larger than mice, with correspondingly larger heads and feet. Rats also have coarser fur than mice. Mice are curious, while the rat is cautious. You will find Norway rats in burrows and the lower levels of a structure, while Roof rats prefer the upper levels of structures. Inspecting the rodent activity is essential. Use a flashlight to inspect their particular activity. Look for their "droppings", rodent tracks, gnawing damage, burrows, runways, urine stains, rub/grease marks, and any other sitings of dead or live rodents. They also make screeching sounds, digging, or scratching sounds. If an infestation is well established, you may be able to detect a rodent odor.
To successfully get rid of mice and rats, it is critical to determine which type of rodent you have for effective control. For example, choosing the correct size trap is critical. A mouse trap would be too small for a rat, and a rat trap may not be sensitive enough to catch mice.
* Understanding the unique differences between mice or rats will increase your success in both in trapping and baiting programs. Rats will have a tendency to shy away from the Bromethalin products, such as Fastrac and Top Gun rodent baits, while the mice will readily accept it.
- The house mouse is about 1/2 -1 oz in size and is slender. The ears are large with their tail as long as the head and body together. The mouse's tail is seminaked.
- Mouse fur is usually dark gray on the back and light gray on the belly, but there are other color variations.
- The Roof rat is 5-9 oz and is sleek, and the Norway rat is larger and more robust and is between 7-18 oz in weight.
- Roof rats are often mistaken for house mice. Young roof rats have larger heads and feet in comparison to their bodies; their bodies are slender. They have a very long tail (longer than head and body combined.) A house mouse's head and feet are proportionally smaller than their bodies.
- Mice excrement droppings average 1/4" and have a rod-like shape. Roof rats have a rod or spindle shape dropping but have an average length of 1/2 inch. The excrement dropping of the larger Norway rat is an average of 3/4 inch and is shaped more like a capsule.
- Excrement droppings vary between the Norway Rat, Roof Rat and House Mouse.
Behavior Difference Between Mice And Rats
Since rodents are dependent on their environment, it may be difficult to describe typical behavior and habits. But there are generalizations of their habits for practical purposes of rodent control around and inside buildings. For further information, go to "About Rats", or "About Mice".
- Rats tend to eat most of their food at one time.
- Rats are excellent swimmers and can swim up to 1/2 mile in open water and go through sewer lines.
- Norway rats prefer food with high carbohydrate and protein content, although they eat almost any types of food.
- Roof rats prefer to eat grains, fruit, sweets and peanut butter and nut butter but will eat what is available in their environment. They are "picky" eaters, due to their natural suspicion of new items in their environment. Roof rats do not readily accept meat or fish.
- Rats tend to be cautious and with new objects. Since they are cautious of new elements in their environment, it may helpful to set unset rat traps
- Rats cannot survive long with without water, while mice may survive longer.
- Norway rats are not often found indoors, they typically nest outside in burrows. A young norway rat may be mistaken for a mouse. The young norway rat has a rounder body than the slender house mouse.
- Roof rats like habitat in attics and trees. They may enter your home with a power line or a tree. Like mice, the roof rat is an excellent climber. The larger norway rat is not as agile as the roof rat or mouse. Since roof rats are often found in the upper levels, they may be undetected for a while.
- A norway or roof rat will move within a diameter of 98 to 164 ft. and a house mouse, 10 to 33 ft. If conditions are unstable or there are changes such as new building, they may expand the diameter. They may also expand their range in protected areas such as in sewers, in passages between buildings, and under groundcovers.
- Roof rats and norway rats are both opportunistic and will eat almost anything that is available.
- Mice will nibble a little at a time. If food is plentiful, they may make 20-30 visits to their food source at night. They feed heaviest at dawn or dusk. Mice prefer grains and seeds, but may eat meats, peanut butter, and sweet items.
- Mice are curious about new objects, so it is easier place new traps or bait placements in their habitat or running space. It is easier to trap mice than rats.
- A mouse may spend its entire life in a building in an urban/city setting. In rural/surbuban settings, they can be found both inside and outside among foundations, shrubs, below structures, or in ground burrows. Once inside, they may establish their nests close to a food source. Common inside nesting sites include within appliances, in walls, closets, cabinet and ceiling voids, storage boxes. Mice make their nests with soft material that has been chewed up from paper, insulation, furniture stuffing, etc.
- Mice constantly explore their territory. They investigate any changes due to their curisosity. Their average territory ranges between 10-30 feet, but mice readily adapt to their environment. They nest close to food sources. Their territory is less when they have abundant food sources close to their nests.
What Mice and Rats Have In Common
- Mice and rats reproduce rapidly with major activity at night.
- Rats and mice have poor eyesite. When placing our rodent bait, place the bait where they travel and live. Do not randomly make rodent or trap placements. The rat's territory is larger than the mouse's territory. Generally speaking, place rat baits out every 25 feet and mice bait out every 10 feet. Rodents have a strong sense of touch from their wiskers. They explore with these wiskers. They prefer a stationary object on one side of them as they travel, so they commonly travel along walls. Place rat traps spaced 15-20 feet apart. Place mice traps every 3-5 feet.
- Both rats and mice can squeeze through tiny openings; 1/4 inch for mice and 1/2 inch for rats. If they can not get around an object, they may chew through it. They can gnaw through cinderblock, lead sheathing, aluminum siding, and glass.
Get Rid Of Mice And Rats
You will want a complete rodent elimination to occur before the rodents move to another area. A successful rodent control program includes a combination of baiting and trapping for the highest rate of success. However, if the rodent population is large, begin with a high quality rodent bait, in order to quickly knock down a population and prevent rapid growth.
Consider integrating any rodent control program with exclusion techniques, a general cleanup, and removal of their hiding places (harboraging areas.)
Using Rodent Baits
When baiting initially, try not to disturb their original habitats or they may run to another area. After baiting has begun, continue with sanitation procedures, food source removal, and harborage removal to ensure additional rodents from nearby areas are not attracted to your location. We also carry rodent bait stations to hold the bait in ensure that children and pets can not access the poison bait.
Using Rodent Traps
Choosing the right size trap is critical for trapping rodents. Inspect for signs of rat activity or mice activity. If you have rats and select mice traps the traps would be too small (the trapping mechanism would not be sufficient for a rat). If you have mice and choose rat traps, the traps would be too large (not sensitive enough to trigger the trap) for the body weight of a mouse.
One of the ways to tell the difference between rats or mice are their feces. View House Mouse, Norway Rats, and Roof Rats to read more about their identification and differences. If you have mice, you will discover a lot of droppings. They look like small beads.
Most people that begin a trapping program, do not set out enough traps. Place traps in the area of rodent activity and signs of infestation. If you have mice, place the traps a couple feet apart in the area of activity. If you have rats, place the traps about 15-20 apart.
Rodent Damage and Disease
Mice and Rats can be found not only in our homes, but supermarkets, restaurants, warehouses, food processing facilities, livestock facilities, and farm fields.They also cause damage to our buildings by their burrowing and gnawing activity. Rodents will gnaw through many types of materials in order to reach a location including lead sheathing, cinder block, aluminum siding and some concrete. Rodents are suspected for causing fires by gnawing on electrical wiring.
Through the ages, rodents have been the cause of some tremendous plagues and diseases. In years past, rodents were responsible for the spread of many diseases. Today, due to increased sanitation and effective rodent and insect control programs, the threat of most diseases from rodents is not as critical. The common House mouse is the most common health pest, due to allergins that it spreads causing asthma and allergic rhinitis. The mouse carries a protein it its blood that can trigger these reactions in suspectible people.
In the southwestern part of the United States, the hanta viruses have been active. Most of these cases have been attributed to the cotton rat and white-foot mice, although the Norway rat has been associated with various hanta virus strains.
Rodents also contaminate a huge amount of the world's food supply by their urine and feces.