Rodents can survive in extremely harsh climates and are found on all continents.
They contaminate food with their urine and feces, spread dangerous diseases, carry parasites harmful to humans and pets, destroy crops and fruit trees and can cause considerable damage to structures with their constant gnawing. According to the World Health Organization, rodents destroy nearly one-third of the world’s food supply annually.
Rodents including both mice and rats have a narrow skull and
flexible body that allows them to squeeze through tiny openings.
For a mouse, it’s only 1/4 inch and 3/4 inch for a rat. Mice have bodies one to two inches long and weigh less than an ounce. Rats can be 5 to 10 inches long not including their tails and weigh as much as one pound. Both mice and rats have long, thin tails that can double their length.
Most active at night, rats and mice have a very keen sense of smell and hearing.
Their sensitive ears allow them to hear in sonic and ultra-sonic ranges. Hairs on their bodies are attached to sensory nerves making them highly sensitive to their environment. Rodents are excellent climbers, good swimmers and can jump straight up 12 to 18 inches.
Rodents live in polygamous groups of multiple males and females.
Females breed throughout the year having as many as 5 litters of 6 to 12 pups each. Offspring reach maturity quickly and are capable of reproducing within 3 months. In the wild, rodents live about a year, but have been known to live up to 4 years in captivity.
Rodents have adapted readily to city and suburban life…
and they introduce other pests.
Living in burrows in fields, woods or riverbanks in the wild, rodents are at home in urban and suburban environments, harboring in buildings, construction sites, drainage ditches and sewers. Rodents bring fleas, mites, ticks and lice into homes and foul counters and foodstuffs with their feces and urine, spreading disease. Their constant gnawing, necessary to wear down their continually growing incisor teeth, is extremely destructive.
Diet, behaviors and habits of rats and mice
Rodents prefer nuts, grains, fruits and sweets but will eat nearly anything humans eat. They need little water, usually getting enough moisture from their food. Curious creatures, they will investigate new objects. They are also creatures of habit, consistently following known pathways. These two characteristics are important in controlling and eliminating rodent pests from homes.
Rodent problems specific to New Jersey and New York
Two types of mice, the house mouse and white-footed deer mouse and two types of rats, the Norway rat and roof rat, are common to the New Jersey and the New York area. You can differentiate between a mouse and a young rat by looking at the relationship of the head and feet to the body. A young rat’s head and feet will appear overly large in relation to its body.
Mouse & rat identification
The house mouse is usually gray but can range in color from light brown to black. Not including its tail, the house mouse is about 2 inches long. House mice generally live indoors and will spend their lives within 10 feet of their nest if food is readily available. Nibblers, house mice feed on several different foods in one night, fouling counters, cupboards and food supplies with feces and urine. Find out more about mice in this interesting and informative article.
White-footed Deer Mouse
The white-footed deer mouse is light brown to black with a white underbelly. Slightly larger than the house mouse, it has bigger ears and eyes. Common in forested areas, the white-footed deer mouse lives outdoors in burrows, logs, stumps or wood piles. It may enter garages or homes in search of food and shelter when natural food supplies diminish in the fall or when its habitat is disturbed by development. White-footed deer mice transmit Hantavirus and are a host for the Lyme disease-transmitting deer tick.
The Norway rat, also known as the brown rat, gray rat, sewer rat, water rat and barn rat, is the most common rodent in urban areas. Typically grayish brown, Norway rats are 10 to 12 inches long including their tails which are shorter than their bodies. Good climbers, they live and nest in buildings, sewers, wood piles and ground burrows and will eat anything. Colonies can be large with many interconnecting burrows.
The roof rat, also called a ship rat, is found almost exclusively in port areas. Black with large ears and eyes and a lighter colored belly, these rats are 16 inches long from nose to tail, with tails longer than their bodies. Arboreal, roof rats live in trees but have adapted to the upper floors of buildings. Roof rats are capable of spreading bubonic plague.
Damages caused by rodents
Rodents can chew through wood, aluminum, cement and sheet rock. They can cause structural damage to homes by gnawing through wood and wallboard. Their gnawing can ruin baseboards, cupboards and furniture. Rodents have been known to gnaw through plumbing pipes to gain access to water. Their gnawing on electrical wires in attics and basements can create a fire hazard.
Health risks associated with mice and rats
Rodents contaminate food with their urine and feces, transmit dangerous diseases, trigger allergies, spread parasites that infect pets and humans and destroy crops and fruit trees. Amateur attempts to eliminate rodents can result in decomposing animals being trapped inside walls where they emit a nauseating stench that is not only repugnant but can trigger asthma and allergies.
Throughout history, some of mankind’s most devastating pandemics have been spread by rodents. Carried by rat fleas, the Black Death killed 75 million people worldwide during the 14th century. Also transmitted by rat fleas, bubonic plague has killed 200 million people since its symptoms were first recorded in the 6th century. The last major bubonic plague pandemic killed tens of millions in Asia in the 1800 and 1900s. With prompt treatment, modern antibiotics now keep bubonic plaque under control but 3,000 cases a year are still reported in Asia, Africa and the U.S. In 2006, campgrounds at Natural Bridges National Monument in Utah were closed for three weeks when bubonic plague was detected in field mice and chipmunks. In 2012, Yosemite National Park made headlines when it was discovered that exposure to mice droppings or urine that contained hantavirus while vacationing at Curry Village resulted in the diagnosis of the HPS in two individuals.
Mice pose a serious health threat to humans. As these small rodents scurry about, they constantly dribble urine and fecal pellets, spreading dangerous diseases and exposing humans to harmful parasites. The house mouse is a primary transmitter of salmonella, a major cause of food poisoning. Mice also carry fleas, mites, lice and Lyme disease-transmitting ticks. Accumulations of rodent hair can provoke allergy and asthma attacks. Invading mice expose residents to serious diseases, including leptospirosis and lymphocytic choriomeningitis which can cause birth defects if contracted during pregnancy. The white-footed deer mouse is a known carrier of potentially fatal Hantavirus.
Rodents spread diseases through parasites, urine and feces. A single rodent is capable of dropping 25,000 fecal pellets each year, or 70 pellets a day. Continually incontinent, rodents dribble urine trails as path markers wherever they go. They contaminate food supplies with their feces, urine and parasites, spreading Salmonella and causing food poisoning. Rodents also transmit tapeworms, rat-bite fever, infectious jaundice, typhus, leptospirosis which causes liver failure and meningitis and deadly Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome. First recognized in 1993 in New Mexico and now identified throughout the U.S., this rare but often fatal respiratory disease is caused by breathing in dust from decayed mouse feces.
How rodents get inside homes and businesses
If a rodent can get his nose in a hole or crack, he can usually squeeze his body through. Mice can enter homes through holes just 1/4-inch wide, the width of a pencil. Rats can enter through holes the size of a quarter. Rodents usually enter homes in the fall as outdoor food sources disappear. They can climb up any rough surface, jump vertically more than a foot and scurry along cables with ease. Rodents often enter through holes, cracks, vents and windows in foundations and crawl spaces. They can climb trees to enter from above through vents, fan turbines or holes in soffits and roofs. They can slip easily under garage doors and into storage sheds.
New developments usually means an increase in rodent problems
Rodent invasions are particularly common when excavation begins for new residential developments. When their natural burrows and food sources are disturbed, rodents will seek shelter in nearby homes.
What to do if rodents are infesting your home or building
Rodents spread potential disease with every step they take. Eliminating them as quickly as possible is extremely important to protect your family’s health and safety. At the first sign of mice or rats, contact ChemTec Pest Control. Our experienced New Jersey pest control professionals will:
- identify and block entry points
- place baits and/or traps in appropriate places based on our extensive knowledge and experience with rodent behavior
- remove trapped rodents and re-bait traps
- work with you to rid your home of these dangerous pests as quickly as possible
For complete relief from your rodent problem, trust our New Jersey pest control company. We’ll help you get rid of mice and other rodents as well as prevent future rodent activity.
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