Unfortunately, we haven’t quite gotten over the cold weather yet. Lower temperatures means there are plenty of pests and wildlife creatures looking for warmth inside your home. Common wildlife, such as rodents, can be a major nuisance during the colder seasons. If found inside, these pests can damage electrical wires, insulation, and even spread disease. Identifying the type of rodents that have entered your home is the first step in the wildlife exclusion process.
Norway rats are known as one of the largest species of rats, measuring about 10 inches in body length. These rats have thicker bodies with fur that’s usually brown with black shading. In addition to having a pale color underneath their tails, the tail itself is shorter in length when compared to their bodies. Norway rats, if desperate enough, will eat just about any food source they can find, although they prefer to eat meat. If they find food in a particular place, they will continue to return to that same spot. This can make baiting and removing them easier. These rodents make their habitats in burrows but can also be found throughout buildings and in sewer systems.
Roof rats have gray fur with black shading and smooth coats. They are about 8 inches long with slender bodies. They have darker tails than Norway rats and they are usually hairless and scaly. These rodents are extremely agile and are skilled climbers. They often prefer higher levels of buildings or homes, hence their name “roof rat.” While they prefer to eat fruit, roof rats will eat any available food source they can find. Unlike the Norway rat, the roof rat will not go back to the same location for food, making them much harder to bait.
Prevention is the key to making sure these rodents don’t enter your home. Use these rodent prevention tips throughout your home to ensure these creatures stay out.
- Repair any roof damage such as broken tiles or gaps under the eaves.
- Seal around utility pipes with steel wool and use either caulk or concrete.
- Declutter any areas where rats may hide out, including your garages, attics, gardens, storage sheds, and even warehouses.
- Apply weather stripping to your doors and windows throughout your house.
Rodents are one of the most resourceful pests when it comes to getting into your home. Mice and rats can squeeze through the tiniest cracks to gain access and they require very little space to travel inside. Rodents seek shelter indoors, especially during the fall and winter months as they go in search of warmth, food and water. While a rodent sighting can be scary enough, these pests also pose serious hazards to your home and your health. They can gnaw through cardboard, paper, and even electrical wires, putting you at risk for fires. They are known to carry bacteria, like salmonella and hantavirus, and can contaminate your food, kitchen surfaces, and other areas of your home. Even rodent droppings are dangerous – helping spread these pathogens to you and your family.
The first step in rodent control in and around your home is to prevent them from getting inside in the first place. Here are 10 easy tips you can use for preventing mice and rats:
- Use doorsweeps and screens on windows and doors. Make sure to keep them in good repair and replace them when needed.
- Use screens on vents and chimneys, as well.
- Seal up any cracks and holes on the exterior of your home with caulk or steel wool, especially around utility pipes.
- Store food in airtight containers. Make sure to empty your trash often.
- Clean up any spills and crumbs immediately. Don’t leave food out overnight, including pet food. Sweep, mop, and vacuum on a regular basis.
- Keep basements, crawlspaces, and attics clean, decluttered and dry. Use plastic storage containers instead of cardboard when possible.
- Check foundations and windows and replace any loose mortar and weatherstripping.
- Check for sources of moisture and eliminate them (e.g. leaky pipes, clogged drains, clogged gutters). Make sure downspouts are directing water away from foundations. Consider installing a gutter guard system.
- Inspect everything before bringing it into your home including grocery bags, boxes, packages, furniture, and appliances.
- Keep piles of firewood elevated off the ground and at least 20 feet from your home. Keep grass mowed and shrubbery trimmed back so it isn’t touching the house.
If you do find signs of rodents in your home, best practice is to remove them and prevent re-entry as soon as possible. This is best accomplished by a professional pest control company who can not only eliminate the nuisance pests, but help identify nesting sites and points of entry to help prevent reinfestation in the future.
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You’ve found all the signs and you’ve confirmed it – there’s a rodent in your house. But is it a rat or a mouse? Does it really matter? How can you tell? Although there are significant differences in rat vs mouse, it can be hard for the average homeowner to distinguish between the two. The behavior, diet, and habitat of each of these pests affects how they are eliminated and prevented. Proper identification is essential for effective rodent control.
There are over 70 species of mice and rats in the United States. The most common are the Norway rat, the roof rat, and the house mouse. Let’s take a look at the difference between rats and mice and why it matters.
Mice are curious and will investigate anything new they come across. Because of this, you can put set mouse traps directly in their path. Mice can stand on their hind legs when they are supported by their tails. They are excellent jumpers, swimmers and climbers and are extremely fast runners. Mice are nocturnal and most active from dusk until dawn. They do not like bright lights.
Rats are more cautious than mice. They will avoid new things until they get used to them being there. Because of this, unset traps should be placed in their path first to let them get used to them and then replaced with set traps later. Rats are strong swimmers and will often live in sewers, allowing them to enter buildings through broken drains and toilets. They will climb to get to food, water, and shelter. They follow regular routines and paths each day.
House mice are much smaller than their rat cousins. They have small heads, small feet, pointed snouts, and large ears with some hair on them. They are usually light brown in color with some gray shading and dark tails. Their droppings are shaped like small rods.
Norway rats have heavy, thick bodies. They are the largest of the three common rodent species. They have blunt snouts and short ears with dark hair. They are usually brown with black shading and shaggy coats. Their tails are dark on top and pale underneath. Their droppings are shaped like capsules.
Roof rats have light slender bodies. They have pointed snouts and long ears with no hair. They are usually gray in color with black shading and smooth coats. Their tails are dark. They have droppings shaped like spindles.
Mice prefer cereal grains and plants but they will feed on almost anything.
Rats will eat nearly anything, as well, but prefer fresh grain and meat. Rats also need 1/2 to 1 ounce of water a day to survive.
Mice prefer to nest near their food sources. They will use any soft material or shredded paper to build their nests.
Rats will burrow under buildings, along fences, and under plants or debris. Norway rats typically live in these burrows while roof rats prefer to nest in walls, attics, and trees.
Mice will have up to 10 litters per year and typically live from about 9 to 12 months.
Norway rats will have up to 6 litters per year and live 12 to 18 months.
Roof rats will have up to 8 litters per year but have fewer babies in their litters than Norway rats do.
The house mouse is considered one of the top 100 world’s worst invaders. They are afraid of rats because rats will eat them. Mice are also color blind.
Rats are nocturnal and have poor eyesight. Norway rats and roof rats do not get along and will actually fight each other to the death. Norway rats tend to live on the lower floors of buildings while roof rats will live on the upper floors.
Why Does It Matter?
Why does it matter whether you have a rat or a mouse? Both rat and mice droppings contain pathogens that are dangerous to humans. Both are also very good at breeding and increase their populations quickly, making them harder to control. The significance in properly identifying rats vs mice affects how they are controlled and eliminated. Because they each have such different diets, habitats, and behaviors, different methods are employed when it comes to getting rid of them. What may work for house mice might not be effective in controlling rats and vice versa.
If you have an issue with rodents or any other pests, contact a professional pest control company who can not only properly identify the nuisance pest, but also set you up with the appropriate treatment and ongoing prevention plans.
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Homeowners can all agree that the idea of having rats inside your home can be very alarming! These rodents can easily sneak into your basement, walls, and even in kitchen cabinets. At first, rats may not reveal themselves to you. However, there are a few clues to look for when you start to suspect you might have rats roaming inside your house.
One sign that you possibly have rats is seeing gnawing marks. Rats are known to sneak behind walls and gnaw on wires. This can be especially dangerous as it can increase the risk of a fire in the home. Make sure to check out any exposed wood inside or around your house for gnawing marks.
Another common sign of rats is seeing their nests. Rats usually prefer to nest underground or in attics and you’ll typically find them in dark secluded areas hidden from any possible disturbances. They commonly build their nests using paper products like cotton, fabrics, wall insulation, or any soft material found in the environment. Rats are also known to leave tracks or rub marks throughout your home while following a trail from their nest to food sources. They will usually leave dark grease or dirt marks along walls and floorboards.
A major sign you’ve got a rat infestation is seeing their droppings. Rat droppings usually measure around 1/8-1/4” long and are generally left behind randomly, but are often found in places where food is stored, such as cabinets or pantries. You can also find droppings inside cardboard boxes, along baseboards, and even on top of wall beams. Seeing rat droppings could indicate that its time get rodent control help from a professional pest control company. Professionals are able to inspect the home and begin the best method of treatment.
Spring makes its own statement loud and clear; the torrential downpours are soon to be here! With rain on the horizon and “social distancing” in full-force, everyone will be spending more time indoors… even pests! The last thing you want to deal with when you’re already stuck inside your home is an unwanted rodent.
There are three main species of rodent that are prevalent in homes, all of which thrive because of their ability to adapt to human environments. These are the house mouse, the Norway rat (also known as the common rat and the brown rat), and the roof rat (also known as the black rat or the ship rat). At first glance there are some commonalities between all rodent species. They all have a pair of incisor teeth in their upper jaw, short legs, long tails, and they all can cause significant damage to both your home and your health. If you look closer, however, you can see several distinguishing features in mice vs rats to help identify which pest you have.
The house mouse is small in size, only about 4 to 6 inches long. In fact, they are often confused with young rats. They are usually light grey, brown, or white in color with lighter shading on their bellies. Mice have large floppy ears and smaller feet and heads than rats. They have triangular snouts with long whiskers. Their tail is proportionally longer than their head and body length.
Norway rats are the biggest of the three species at about 10 inches long. They have thicker bodies with fur that is usually brown with black shading and shaggy in appearance. They have a paler color underneath their tails. Their tail is shorter than the length of their body and head and is usually hairless and scaly. They have small hairy ears and blunt noses.
The roof rat is usually about 8 inches long with slender bodies. They have gray fur with black shading and smooth coats. They have dark tails that are usually hairless and scaly. Their tail is longer than their head and body, similar to a mouse. They have large, thin, hairless ears and pointed noses.
The house mouse prefers cereal but will eat almost anything. They kibble their grain when eating it, meaning they remove the outer husk and eat the grain that is inside. They tend to seek out food in the same places which makes baiting them easier. They don’t need to drink water but will consume about 3 mL if it is available.
Norway rats also prefer cereals but will eat what is available. They cut their grains when eating, giving them the appearance of being chopped. These rats also tend to seek food in the same places making them easier to bait, as well. They drink about 60 mL of water a day.
Roof rats prefer most fruit but will eat other foods, as well. They also cut their grain when eating it, making it look like it has been chopped. They don’t usually eat in the same location on consecutive nights making them much harder to trap. They drink about 30 mL of water per day.
House mice usually live on the ground and nest in burrows. They are quite agile and great climbers. They have smaller footprints than rats do. The grease from their bodies can combine with dirt and urine and build up pillars, a telltale sign of their presence. They will often build their nests in hidden areas near food sources out of any soft material or shredded paper they can find.
Norway rats live on the ground and in burrows. They are usually spotted throughout buildings and in sewer systems. Their burrowing can cause extensive damage to sewers. They tend to walk on the pads of their feet and leave continuous smudges on their walking paths from their oily fur.
Roof rats are mainly restricted to buildings and structures around ports and on ships in temperate climates. They are quite agile and very good climbers. They tend to nest up high under roofs (hence their name) and in warmer countries will even nest in trees. They tend to walk on their toes and surfaces they travel on will show scattered smudges.
The newborns of every rodent species are born blind, hairless and completely dependent on the mother for feeding and protection.
House mice typically have litters of 4-16 babies. They can have 7 to 8 litters per year. The reach maturity in about 8 to 12 weeks.
Norway rats typically have litters of 7 to 8 babies. They can have 3 to 6 litters per year. They reach maturity in about 10 to 12 weeks.
Roof rats typically have litters of 5 to 10 babies. They can have 3 to 6 litters per year. They reach maturity in about 7 to 8 weeks.
House mice are nocturnal creatures. They are social and territorial and tend to be bolder than rats. They are curious and will explore new things, making them easier to trap. They are skillful climbers and will fit into small holes to access areas of your home you wouldn’t expect. They are weaker than rats and are usually afraid of them as they will kill them. House mice have a musky odor and are color blind.
Norway rats are also nocturnal. They are typically fearful and cautious about new things. They don’t explore like mice do. They can climb but prefer to inhabit the lower levels of structures. They are stronger than mice and have been known to gnaw through building materials. They have poor eyesight. Norway rats don’t get along with roof rats and they will often fight to the death.
Roof rats are nocturnal. They are skilled climbers and prefer higher levels of structures. They have stronger teeth than mice and can gnaw through building materials. They have poor eyesight. they don’t get along with Norway rats and will often fight them to the death.
House mice droppings are approximately 3 to 8 mm in length. They are often found scattered randomly. They are granular in shape and black in color. They can be found near their nesting areas.
Norway rat droppings are dark brown in color. They are tapered, spindle shaped droppings that resemble large grains of rice.
Roof rat droppings are long and thin and smaller in size than those of the Norway rat. They are more regular in form with a banana-like curve and pointed ends.
Whether you have mice or rats, rodent feces can cause significant health risks for you and your family. Some common diseases caused by rodent droppings include Hantavirus, bubonic plague, salmonellosis, rat bite fever, and leptospirosis. Rodents are also known chewers and can cause damage to the structure of your home and put you at risk for fires by chewing through wires and cables.
If you suspect you have a rodent problem, contact a licensed pest control company who can help identify whether you have a mouse or a rat, apply safe rodent removal techniques, and make sure you have a comprehensive rodent control and prevention plan going forward.
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