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Rodent Abatement

THE THREE (3) MOST COMMON COMMENSAL RODENTS

Norway Rat

Rattus norvegicus. Also called “common rat”, “water rat”, “brown rat”, or “sewer rat”.

Description: Brownish gray above; grayish below. Up to 18 inches long including tail. Its thick, scaly tail is shorter than head and body combined. Small eyes and hairy ears. Weighs 7 to 17 oz.

Habitat: Farms, cultivated fields, sewers, warehouses, or other human dwelling places throughout the U.S.

Characteristics: Agile climber. Good swimmer. Uses sensitive whiskers to navigate. Feeds at night. Daytime feeding indicates large population. Its powerful incisors continuously grow; rats maintain them by gnawing though objects such as wood, electrical cables and pipes. Overpopulation produces mass migration. Burrows for nesting and feeding. Suspicious and wary.

Reproductive Cycle: Females mature sexually at 3 months. Gestation lasts 3 weeks. Can bear up to 12 litters annually but usually 5 litters of 7-11 young.

Food Preferences: Stored cereals, meat, insects, wild plants, seeds, chicken eggs and young poultry.

Roof Rat

Rattus rattus. Also called “ship rat”.

Description: Dark brownish with gray belly. Averages 15 inches in length – somewhat smaller than the Norway rat. Slender tail is longer than head and body combined. Large almost hairless ears. Weighs up to 9 oz.

Habitat: Upper floors of buildings, trees, and lush vegetation (often in exclusive well-landscaped yards), seaports and ships. Abundant in South and along Atlantic, Gulf and Pacific coasts.

Characteristics: Extremely agile. Expert climber. Can also gnaw through wood, lead piping and electrical cables. Builds nests above ground, often in trees and tangled vines. Carrier of the “Black Plague” that killed millions of people in the 14th century.

Reproductive Cycle: Similar to Norway Rat. Breeds throughout the year, producing several litters of 2-8 young.

Food Preferences: Cereals, grains, nuts, fruits.

House Mouse

Mus musculus

Description: Grayish brown above and somewhat lighter underneath.

From 5 to 7-3/4 inches long. Weighs from 5/8 to ¾ oz.

Habitat: Buildings, cultivated fields, and areas near man with good ground cover.

Characteristics: Nibbler, Inquisitive, Territorial – stays close to nest. Grooms frequently. Contaminates food with urine and small droppings. Chews or gnaws through walls, floors, baseboards or electrical cords which can start fires. Nests made of string, shredded paper, straw.

Reproductive Cycle: Females can produce first litter at 8-10 weeks. Pregnancy lasts 3 weeks. Average 7 to 10 litters per year with 4-16 young per litter. Females can conceive shortly after delivery.

Food Preferences: Seeds, cereals, grains, and sweets.

RODENT RELATED HEALTH PROBLEMS

RATS:

After spreading the bubonic plague by transporting infected fleas, probably nothing could redeem the rat in the eyes of humans. Indeed, even in the modern, developed world, rats and mice still carry diseases, although less serious ones than the plague. Bacterial diseases like Rat Bite Fever are less common, but the rat-borne bacterium Leptospira, which can cause jaundice, meningitis, and kidney and liver complications, has recently been a cause for concern in urban areas.

MICE:

Mice can carry hantaviruses, some of which cause hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS), which can be fatal to humans. A previously unknown, mouse-borne hantavirus that broke out in the Southwestern U.S. in 1993 has killed 122 people to date (as of August 1, 2002). The infected rodent’s urine, feces, and saliva contain the virus, which can be inhaled by humans when it becomes airborne. (NOTE: In the United States, the rodents carrying this type of HPS-causing hantavirus are deer mice, cotton rats and rice rats in the southeastern states, and the white-footed mouse in the Northeast. The more common house mouse, Norway rat and Roof rat are not known to carry this hantavirus.)

RODENT DAMGES:

Rodent urine also contains allergens that may be irritating to those with allergies or asthma who are exposed on a regular basis. In addition, rodent urine can stain surfaces – an unsightly way to detect their presence in your home.

All of these rodents will eat food and chew on property if they find their way into a home. Severe rodent infestations can result in structural damage. Mice and rats have also been known to chew through electrical wires. Rodent fecal droppings must be removed. Air-born pathogens are released into human occupied structures from dried fecal material.

RODENT CONTROL:

Professional control results are achieved with knowledge of rodent biology, nesting, mating and feeding habits, as well as recognition of identifying trail and droppings. The Professionals at A-1/Able provide a wealth of information and experience on every job.

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WARNING! Extreme caution should be taken by the untrained do-it-yourselfer regarding rodent bait (poisons). All bait installed in or outside of a structure should be in a tamper resistant bait box. All traps should be placed where contact by children or pets cannot occur. Rodent carcasses should be handled with gloves and disposed of in plastic bag(s).

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