Rats and mice can wreak havoc on homes and businesses, causing great loss of money and damage to health.
These rodents are omnivores, which means they are capable of eating all kinds of food and products. Thanks to their constantly growing teeth, they have a great need to chew on everything they come across. A family containing ten rats generates 54 litres of urine and 146,000 droppings in a single year. There are a number of different species of rats and mice, but the pest rodents are the:
Common rat and mice species:
The house mouse is the species of mice responsible for the mouse plagues in rural Australia. Favouring dry areas, you’ll most likely find a house mouse nesting in roof spaces, furniture, wall cavities and sometimes in the outdoors. The house mouse is an omnivore, so they prefer eating cereal grains. They will only grow to weigh approximately 20 grams and have a very fine and slender body that allows them to travel through tight pipes and through small holes.
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Also known as the 'brown rat', 'water rat' or 'sewer rat', the Norway rat is a combination of multiple rodents’ species. The small rodent is the largest out of the pest species of rats and mice, weighing around 450g, and they can become aggressive when provoked. They can live both indoors and outdoors, nesting in sewers, around waterways and digs burrows. They are very good swimmers.
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The smallest rat among the three species, the roof rat, also known as the 'black rat' is found in roofs. They are a very timid species, but agile as they can climb well. Unlike the others, they don’t burrow, aren’t strong swimmers and rarely venture into sewers. These rats also have a very slender body making it easy for them to slip through cracks and holes in buildings.
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Where do rats & mice live?
Rats and mice live in a variety of areas, including:
- Residential properties, in wall cavities, cupboards, boxes, furniture, and burrows in gardens;
- Commercial proprties (especially food production/manufacturing businesses);
- Nesting in vines or trees; and
- Burrows (depending on the species).
When are rats & mice active?
They are most active at night as they are nocturnal animals.
Why are rats & mice pests?
Rats can be very stubborn once they manage to get into your property, and it is crucial to get rid of them before they spread diseases, soil food and damage the property. A rat does not have to enter your house in order to present a threat. They can be dangerous just by being in the yard or outdoors since these are areas that might be frequented by pets and children. Rats affect humans and their environment in a number of ways, like:
- Ruining the insulation of your home or business;
- Chewing through electrical cables, causing a fire hazard;
- Destabilising hillsides or structures such as retaining walls by burrowing;
- Cause illnesses and contaminating foods with bacteria (like salmonella) through their urine or droppings;
- Spreading diseases (e.g. leptospirosis, rickettsial diseases, typhus, Hantavirus and trichinosis) and even death through parasites like intestinal worms and fleas; and
- Ruining doors, books, upholstery, food containers and skirting boards.
Signs of rodent activity
- Droppings: Rodent droppings when fresh are malleable and shiny. After two to three days, they become hard and lose their sheen. Mouse droppings measure about 3 to 6 mm in length, often contain hair and are pointy at the ends, while rat droppings are blunt and can measure up to 12 mm in length.
- Rub marks: When the fur of rodents rubs against walls and other surfaces, they leave behind a greasy residue, most noticeable when dealing with very large infestations.
- Burrows: Rat tunnels are commonly seen close to buildings and waterways.
- Sounds: Mice and rats often make noise at night. If you hear the squeaking of mice or gnawing of rats, you might have an infestation case on your hands.
- Nest: Materials like paper, cardboard and rags are commonly used to build nests.
- Gnawing: Due to their growing teeth, rats need to constantly gnaw on materials like wood, conduit, cables and metal this helps to sharpen their incisors and grind down the length of the teeth. When they bite on cables, they leave behind exposed wires which can then lead to fires or short circuits.
Tips for handling dead rats & mice:
Finding a dead mouse or rat on your property can be a sign that your pest problem is being eradicated, but it can also be very disconcerting if you do not know how to dispose of the carcass. Here are some tips:
- Keep Pets Away: If you have a cat or dog, do not be surprised if it appears extremely curious about the carcass. It is essential that your pet is kept away from the carcass at all costs, and does not play or, worse, eat it. Rodents are the carriers of germs and illnesses which can spread to your pet. If the mouse or rat was killed by poisoning, your pet is at risk of being poisoned as well if it comes into contact with the carcass. Rodenticides that have less potential for secondary poisoning can be used where pets may be able to access carcases, ask your Flick technician.
- Empty Rodent Traps: If rodent traps are being set on your property, you will have to deal with emptying them at some point. Always use rubber gloves when handling dead rodents. Lift the steel trap very cautiously and pick up the carcass. If even this is too much for you, just slide some newspaper beneath the trap, fold the whole thing up and then empty it into the trash.
- Disposing of the Carcass: It is advisable to get rid of a dead rat or mouse by wrapping it in newspaper and then placing it in a trash can. Avoid burying the carcass in your garden as it might later be dug up by curious pets or wild animals, which could then fall ill thanks to the diseases or poison lingering in the dead rodent.
- Wall Cavities And Other Inaccessible Areas: If you suspect due to the smell that there is a dead mouse or rat stuck in an inaccessible area, it is advisable to wait a few weeks. Rodent carcases need about two weeks to dry out and start decomposing. Use air fresheners as you wait, and after a period of time, the problem will take care of itself. Odour reducing products are available if the smell becomes unbearable.
To eradicate rodents from your property, call your local Flick Anticimex office at 13 14 40.