Rat pose a significant health risk to humans and our pets. Common diseases carried by rats include Salmonella, Weil’s disease, E.coli and TB.
Rats also carry fleas, mites and ticks and can cause acute allergic reactions.
Rats and mice are referred to as Commensal (domestic) rodents. Commensal rodents generally have poor sense of vision, but they have acute sense of smell, touch, and taste. Rats belong to the Order Rodentia which is derived from the Latin rodere meaning to gnaw. They tend to gnaw through any material that is softer than their enamel, and they are generally good climbers, jumpers, swimmers and burrowers. There are three species of domestic rodents:
Roof rat is slender and agile, and its tail is longer than the head and body lengths combined. Its total length may reach 12 to 17 ¾ inches and can weigh up to about ¾ of a pound. Roof rat nests above ground and lives in ivy, wild blackberry vines, attics, garages, and wood piles. It will enter buildings uif given the opportunity, and often use utility lines and fences as runways. It prefers to feed on fruits, nuts, ivy, and pet food commonly found in residential areas.
Norway rat is larger and more aggressive than the roof rat. It has smaller eyes and ears than the roof rat, and its tail is shorter than the combined head and body length. Its total length may reach 18 inches and may weighs up to about 1 lb. Norway rat lives and nests in underground burrow system and is generally found in agricultural areas, creeks, sewers and occasionally developed neighborhoods. It can also live in buildings, basement, creek banks, waterfronts, under blackberry vines, under wood piles. It feeds on garbage, pet food, meat scraps, cereal grains, fruits and vegetables.
House mouse is small, slender bodied, and the tail is longer than the length of its head and body. Its body size ranges from 2-1/2 to 3-4/5 inches long. Its body color is generally grayish brown with a gray or buff belly. House mice is agile climbers and can fit through openings as small as ¼ inches in diameter. It eats many types of food, but prefers seeds and grain. It normally travels an area averaging 10 to 30 ft. in diameters.
Indications of a Rat Problem
Rodents are notorious in transmitting diseases, directly and indirectly. The plague-infested rodents carry plague-infested flea, which in turn infect man. Rat fleas also capable in causing murine typhus fever. Contacting rodent urine and blood may cause leptospirosis. Other diseases include rat-bite fever, trichinosis (roundworm infection) and salmonellosis.
The typical signs of a rat problem in the home are:
- Damage – rats have teeth that grow continuously and gnaw on wood and plastic to keep them trim. Rats can even cause fires by chewing through cables.
- Distinctive smell – rats leave an ammonia-like smell that will be particularly strong in enclosed areas such as under cupboards
- Nests – rats build nests in warm, hidden places using shredded material such as newspaper and fabrics. Nests will often contain young rats
- Burrows – In gardens, rats will dig burrows especially in compost heaps or under sheds. They will also build nests under garden decking.
- Ripped food packaging – rats will tear open food which may leave teeth marks
- Scratching noises in walls or under the floor as rats scurry around
- Droppings – rats leave dark, tapered droppings about 10-14mm long
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