When rodents get into man-made structures, they can create many problems. They chew on wood and wiring, invade food storage areas, spread illness, leave waste, bring in parasites, and more. But all rodents are not the same. Some burrow in the ground. Some climb in trees. Some eat small food items. Others focus on foods that are more substantial. Effective control of rodents requires an understanding of the specific differences between these animals. Here are the common rodents you’re likely to find entering your New Jersey home or business, and some of the specific differences between them.
A Norway rat is 10 to 12 inches long, with a tapering tail that makes up almost half of that length. This rat may be brown or gray, but brown is the most common, leading some to refer to them as brown rats. They go by many names: sewer rats, common rats, street rats, wharf rats, and more specifically, Hanover rats and Norway rats.
While this rat is a good climber, it can also burrow into the ground. It likes to establish its burrows under surface objects. If you have lawn clutter, wood piles, construction materials, etc., these will be attractive to a Norway rat.
Norway rats are a health threat when they invade homes and businesses. Their droppings and urine can contaminate foods, food prep surfaces, dishes, silverware, and more. They can also carry in ectoparasites, such as ticks, fleas, and lice.
Rats can, and will, attack humans and pets if they feel threatened. This happens most often when they are cornered or protecting their young.
A roof rat ranges from 14 to 16 inches long, including its tail, which is slightly shorter than its body length. Depending on the species, it can be black, grey, or brown in color, with a stout nose and black eyes.
This is a rat that likes to be up high. They will usually attack a structure from tree limbs, and chew their way into rooflines. But they do not do this exclusively. It is possible for roof rats to chew in from a low place as well.
Roof rats are mostly nocturnal creatures, and they prefer to be in secluded areas of a house. The most common area they can be found in is the attic.
Roof rats are creatures of habit. They are known to return to the same food source over and over, and follow the same paths through a structure.
These rats are famous for their role in spreading the bubonic plague, and while the plague is now much more rare, there are still a few cases every year in the United States.
Like Norway rats, these rats will attack humans and pets if they feel threatened.
A house mouse is typically 5 inches long from its nose to its tail. It can be brown, grey, black or white, though white mice are more often found in laboratories than inside homes. House mice have pointed snouts, beady black or pink eyes, and a hairless tail.
When house mice get into a home, they are happy to stay. This species of mouse has completely adapted to living with humans. In fact, if you see a mouse crawling around in the day, it is likely a house mouse.
As eaters go, house mice are nibblers that take advantage of anything that is laying around. Since they are small, they don’t require much. Their eating habits take them all over a home, from top to bottom, leaving droppings and urine as they go.
The most common deer mouse we see is the white-footed deer mouse. This is a mouse with a brown, black, or white fur coat and a white underbelly, which is around 6 to 8 inches long from nose to tail.
Deer mice are at home in rural and wooded areas, prairies, and farms. Most of the time, this is a mouse that stays outside. But, when temperatures drop or outside conditions are uncomfortable, they will come inside. They may also come in randomly, as they forage for food.
Deer mice are a vector for hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, and nesting areas of this mouse should not be cleaned without the use of a respirator.