Three rodents pest species are common to British Columbia.
These are House mouse, Norway rat and Roof Rat. Rodents are known to transmit various diseases through bacterial,
viral pathogens and parasites to human beings. Some diseases
are spread by contact with the urine and droppings. Breathing
dust raised during the cleanup of droppings can cause illness. Rodents can chew through electric wires and plastic pipes
resulting fire hazards.
House Mice are gray or brown, small and slender,
weighing 20-30 gm rodents with relatively large ears and small
eyes. An adult is about 5-9 cm long, including the 3 to 4
inch tail. Although house mice usually feed on cereal grains,
they will eat many kinds of food and remain active at night
time. They eat often, nibbling bits of food here and there. Mice have keen senses of taste, hearing, smell and touch.
They are excellent climbers and run horizontally along wire
cables or ropes and can jump up 10-13 inches from the floor
onto a flat surface. They can slip through a crack that a
pencil will fit into (slightly larger than 1/4 inch in diameter).
In a single year, a female may have five to 9 litters of usually
five or 7 young each. Young are born 17 to 20 days after mating,
and they are mature in six to nine weeks. The life span of
a mouse is about eight to 11 months. Mouse leave small (less than 6 mm) dark brown droppings with smooth
Norway Rat is a rather large member of the
mouse family. On average, these rats reach nearly 300-400
mm nose-to-tail, and weigh 400-600 g. The nose is blunt, the
ears are small. When distinguishing the Norway rat from the Roof rat, pull the tail back over the body. The tail of the Roof rat will reach the nose. The tail of the Norway rat will
not reach beyond the ears. Their fur is coarse and usually
is brownish or reddish-gray. The droppings are 1/4 to 1/2
inch in length, dark capsule shaped , with blunt end. Norway
rats live in close association with people. They
generally live at ground level and burrow to make nests under
buildings and other structures, beneath concrete slabs, along
stream banks, around ponds, in garbage dumps, and at other
locations where water, food and shelter are present. Rats are primarily nocturnal. They usually become active about
dusk, when they begin to seek water and food. Some time they
may be active during daylight hours when the rat population
is high, when disturbed (weather change, construction, etc.)
or when their food source is threatened. The territories of
most rats are normally between 50 and 150 feet radius of the
nest. Female rats have 5 -7 litters per year with average
9 young per litter.
Roof rat or black Rat:
Roof rat or black Rat a blackish or brownish,
medium-sized, slender rat with long, naked, scaly tail; tail
usually longer than head and body. Individuals weigh between
100-250 g, and are between 20-25 cm in length. They are good
at climbing, running and jumping. Roof rats frequently enter
buildings from the roof or accesses near utility lines and
hanging tree branches on the roof, support structural infestation.
Like the Norway rat, they are omnivorous and will feed on
almost anything if necessary. They can often be seen at night
running along overhead utility lines. They may live in trees
or attics and climb down to a food source. Roof rat and Norway
rat have a strong tendency to avoid new objects in their environment.
These rats may take several days before they will approach
a bait station or trap. An opening larger than 1/2 in (12
mm) allows entry of roof rats into buildings. Female has Adult
droppings are up to 1/2 in (12.5 mm) long, and are spindle
shaped with pointed ends. A female have 4-6 litters per year,
with 6-8 young per litter. Adult droppings are up to 1/2 in
(12.5 mm) long, and are spindle shaped with pointed ends.
How are rodents harmful?
With the droppings, urine and hairs, rats have the practice of contaminating everything they come across. What is more danger is that the rodents carry a wide range of diseases and parasites that are harmful to humans and animals. Studies have shown that around 20% of rats carry diseases named Leptospirosis which can be fatal to humans. There are also other diseases such as Toxoplasmosis and Salmonella which are equally dangerous for humans as well as animals. There is yet another equally annoying and significant problem with the rodents. They cause considerable structural damage with their gnawing and burrowing habits. This can stretch anything from small holes in walls, furniture to structural collapse, electrical faults and even fire.
Why the rats keep on nibbling is because they have the constantly growing incisor teeth and need to be worn down at regular times. Thus the gnawing habit causes considerable damage to items stored in the infested area. The problem becomes persistent in the winter months as the rats move indoors seeking food and shelter.
The rats also have a drastic reproduction capacity as a single pair can produce over 400 offspring per year. The rodents usually feed off plant and animal sources. They have highly developed sense of taste and smell and use the same route to and from food sources. Rats go I search of water resources while mice usually receive enough water from their food itself. The rodents have the habit of leaving the droppings on all the surfaces that they travel on and also they leave greasy smear marks where ever they have brushed past a hindrance. Thus they leave an obvious note of the infestation.
The main attractions to rodents:
Even though there are no cut and right territories that the rodents stick to, they usually seem to be attracted by certain conditions. The rats dwell upon uncollected garbage and litter. If you leave your bird houses and trays with food for the pets left out, there are chances that the rats might follow up with that. Sometimes rodents get attracted to fruits and berries that have fallen to the ground. Also if the composite substances are not treated in the correct way, they may attract the rats. The rodents are also attracted towards dog droppings. For managing the rodent infestation, you can use methods like baiting, trapping, blocking holes and attention to hygiene.
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