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Rats & Mice are usually classified as a pest species due to their habits of living in houses and gnawing. The most common complaints include the following:
Since it's a very common problem, I have here an advice article with photos on how to get rats out of the attic.
MICE AND RAT BIOLOGY: Roof Rat (Rattus rattus) Is also known as the Black Rat, Ship Rat, or House Rat. It is very common in the more southern states. Adults average 7-8 inches long with an additional 8 inch tail, and weigh between 6-10 ounces. Males are usually larger. They breed year-round, and have up to five litters per year. A female can become pregnant within 48 hours after giving birth. The young grow quickly, and are sexually mature within three months. It's rare for rats to live more than one year in the wild, though lab/pet rats can live up the three years.
Norway Rat (Rattus norvegicus) Is also known as the Brown Rat. These rats are larger than Roof Rats, with a more robust body, slightly longer, but a bit shorter tail. They can weigh up to a pound. They are more common in northern parts of the country.
House Mouse (Mus musculus)
is a common rodent pest inside people's homes. They are usually around three inches long and weigh less than an ounce. They're quite a bit smaller than rats. They can have up to a dozen litters per year, and up to a dozen baby mice per litter. That's gross! Average litter size is closer to six. They rarely live longer than a year in the wild.
All of these rodents have excellent hearing and sense of smell, but poor eyesight. They often travel via urine or pheromone pathways. They have excellent speed and balance, and can easily climb most surfaces. Read about how are rats are getting in the building.
MICE AND RAT BEHAVIOR: Though than can live in a variety of natural habitats. Roof rats tend to live up in trees, whereas Norway Rats and mice live at ground level or even in underground burrows. However, these rodents are known for their association with and dependence on humans. They very frequently live in people's homes or other buildings, especially if these buildings contain or are near food sources. These rodents establish a relatively small home range, and don't travel very far. They are nocturnal, and wait until night, when everything is safe and quiet, before venturing out in search of food. They eat a variety of foods, but often prefer grains. They have rodent teeth that continually grow, and they gnaw on objects in order to wear down the teeth. They can be somewhat territorial, though high population densities can mess up territories.
NUISANCE CONCERNS: Rats and mice may be the most commonly known nuisance mammal species worldwide. They can be important agricultural pests, but the real concern is their tendency to feed on human food stores, often contaminating what they do not eat. They also chew, and can destroy electrical wires and pretty much anything they get their teeth on. Click here for rat damage photos. Most of the calls that I get regarding rats has to do with the noise people hear the rats making up in the attic or in the walls. They leave behind a lot of waste in the form of urine and feces. Click here for photos of rat poop. They're also known carriers of zoonotic diseases.
MICE AND RAT DISEASES: Everyone knows about the now-rare Bubonic plague, or Black Death of the Middle Ages, but there are over 30 different types of disease are associated with rats and their droppings. They include Rat-bite fever (Streptobacillus moniliformis bacteria), which is transferred from the bite of a rat, the Rickettsia virus, which is similar to chicken pox, Hantavirus, which can cause febrile illness in humans and sometimes kidney, blood, or respiratory ailments, Eosinophilic Meningitis - an infection of the brain, and caused by rat lung worm. The droppings of rats can cause Leptospirosis or Salmonellosis, and rats and mice also bring parasites into the home.
HOW DO I GET RID OF MICE AND RATS? First of all, do not use poison. Poison will never kill all the rodents, and it's only a temporary attempt at a solution - once you kill a few rodents, new ones will just come and take their place. They reproduce very quickly, and space or food supplies will dictate populations. Plus, the use of poisons will frequently mean dead and smelly rats in the attic or walls. The only surefire way to get rid of a rat or mouse problem is to find out how they are getting into the building - seal off all of those area, up to 1/4 inch wide, with steel, and this will keep them out. Once you prevent ingress/egress, you can trap and remove all the rats for a permanent solution. It's much easier said than done. Even experienced pros can miss the dozens of tiny spots that a home might have that will allow rat or mouse entry. Then trapping is another art unto itself. You can't just slap a couple of traps near the attic hatch, they must be placed, dozens of them, strategically on the rat or mouse runways in the attic, on pipes, etc. Click here for my how to get rid of rats page.
CAN'T I JUST USE A REPELLENT? The most common form of "repellent" used is poison, which does not work well, but many other deterrent devices have been developed and marketed. High-frequency sound machines, various odors, etc. Unfortunately, none of these gimmicks work well. I've often trapped rats and mice right next to operating ultrasonic sound machines, just to prove how useless they are. The only way to take care of a rat or mouse problem, folks, is to stop the rodents from getting into the house in the first place! Then you can trap and remove them. Click here for my full rat repellent page. You can also read about various Rat prevention techniques, and as stated, since there are no good repellents and you're going to have to trap them, you should read my how to trap a rat page as well.
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Rat Email From Reader: Hello.. My name is Lakaron.. and I need your help. I reside in Dallas, Tx. and have recently moved to an old house .... Make a long story short... Something's there besides my kids & myself.
At night (and sometimes during the day) I hear scratching noises & sometimes it sounds as if a Big Man has gotten trapped or logged between my walls & is trying to escape. I was in the living room last evening, and I heard
some squeaking noises... I followed the sound and it was coming through one of the vents from the attic. I got scared & left the house. It's horrible being at home & afraid to stay there. I pay rent there, not the rodents.
Can you help me get my house back and under control. I'm scared of rats, and I hope it's just rats. But the noise level is making me consider something much larger than a rat!!!!!!!! Please respond to this email & offer
help & suggestions. Thank You, LaKaron T ( the scared tenant )
My Response: Even rats can make noise that sounds like a big animal. The squeaking does indicate rats. Whatever the case, the animals need to be trapped and removed, and the entry points into the house found and sealed. Just check my directory in Dallas, and you can find a good wildlife operator there named Matt to take care of your rat problem.
Rat Email From Reader: Wow, your website is amazing! It's the best I've found, "bar-none" and your expertise, honesty and consideration shows through on every page of your website. I deeply thank you for the fantastic information found on your site. However, I am just so upset that you are in Florida!!!!!!! I am in California, and I'm just so sad that I can't find anyone like you and your fine company here where I live to solve my rat problem. So my question is... do you perhaps know anyone- a fellow colleague?! in the same business as you?! Someone you know does the same quality of service you do in California? I am in the Orange County, Disneyland area. Please help me.... I just can't stand the rat droppings anymore, I can't stand waking up to the pitter -patter of rats running in the top attic. on top of this, I am more concerned for the health of my family. Again, I thank you for the honest opinions you give. It simply shows that you are a kind, compassionate business man, who- is not out to trick customers to take their money. I can tell you want to teach us to help ourselves, but if we can't then you are the expert to call. Thank you so much.
My Response: Thanks for the kind words. Just check my directory in California, and you can find a good wildlife operator there to take care of your rat problem.
Rat in building - general information on different parts of buildings rats get into.
Pest control for rats - why to never hire a regular pest control company to do rat work.
How to kill a rat - another guide, helping to humanely solve the problem.
Can Rats Swim?
Do Rats Carry Rabies?
How Big Do Rats Get?
Do Rats Destroy Insulation In An Attic?
What can Rats Chew Through?
What Attracts Rats?
How To Get Rid Of Rats Outside?
Does Using Poison Cause Dead Rats In The House?
Do Rats Kill Mice?
Do Rats Jump? How High And How Far?
Humane Rat Traps
What's the Difference Between Pest Control and Rat Control?
Will County/City Animal Services Help With Rats?
Rats & Insurance: Will I Have to Pay?
Is Professional Rat Control Really Worth It?
The One Rat Removal Method that DOESN’T Require Poison, Trapping or Dead Rats
Rat Trapping Legalities: What You Should Know
What Does a Rat Trapper Do With Rats?
About House Mice
How to Remove Mice From Your Car
How to Remove Mice From Your Garage
How Big Can House Mice Get?
How Can You Kill A House Mouse?