Introduction to Rodents (Rats & Mice)

Rodents contribute to the spread of disease both directly and indirectly. Rats are also incredibly persistent creatures that will find their way into your home or business through the tiniest of spaces to seek food and warmth.

The effects of a rat infestation in your home can be far reaching and very troublesome. They can chew through insulation, floor joists and walls and even electrical cables. A rodent’s burrowing ability can undermine and even cause a collapse of retaining walls and other similar structures.

Contact Us For Rodent Assistance

There are 4 basic steps when eliminating rodent (rat or mouse) populations:

A qualified Flick Inspector will call at a time convenient to you, to carry out a thorough inspection. There are ten signs that Flick will endeavour to look for when conducting our initial (and follow-up) inspection: These are:

Droppings, rodent tracks, gnaw marks, burrowing, runways, grease marks from rodent’s fur, urine stains, live or dead rodents, rodent’s sounds and rodent odours. A good inspection will give you a better idea of the size of the population and the routes taken by the rodents. As you will see in Population Reduction, one must intercept the rodents. Proper placements of baits or glue boards depend on the inspection! Flick would then provide you with a comprehensive obligation-free quotation for the treatment. This, of course, carries the Flick Warranty- if re-infestation occurs during the warranty period, additional treatment will be provided free of charge.

In order for a large population of rodents to flourish, there has to be an abundance of food and water, as well as easy access to a cosy nesting site. By removing or reducing the factors that make any pest population abundant, you remove and reduce the pest. This is the backbone of Integrated Pest Management! Sanitation does imply that your living or work environment is really messy or unhygienic.

Sanitation refers to effective and routine housekeeping practices that need to be maintained. This plays a role in pest control, and practices such as proper storage of food that rodents or pests could gain access to, the removal of undesirable vegetation (grass, weeds) and taking care of rubbish- should be kept in rat-proof bins with tight fitting lids and a well-organized and supervised cleaning and maintenance plan must be adhered to. Homeowners must also realise that pet foods and wild bird feed are all tasty meals for rodents.  If rats have easy access to an abundance of dog food (especially at night when feeding is heaviest), they are less likely to be attracted to the rodenticides or bait stations. The Flick inspector can help by providing expert advice on the actions required to minimise the risk of re-infestation.

Controlling rats and mice by making it impossible for them to enter structures is the best way to eliminate and control indoor populations. Although this is not always feasible, exclusion should not be ignored. It is not always possible to do extensive rodent proofing, but in many cases, it can be accomplished with minimum effort.

A building can be rodent proofed by eliminating all openings larger than 2 cm in size for rats and 1cm for mice. Even after this is done, rodents can slip through open doors and windows, gain access to plumbing and other utility lines or (especially in the case of mice) can be transported indoors with any merchandise. Exclusion also includes repairing doors and windows that do not operate properly or shut securely. Do not forget to inspect and repair air vents that may not be in sound working order.

The suspicious and cunning nature of rodents can result in the treatment being a very specialised process. To quickly reduce the population of rodents, most treatment methods involve the laying of special baits. In some situations, the use of toxic baits is not safe, legal or desired because of possible contamination and risk factor.

When dealing with rats in a food sensitive premises, we prefer an approach of combining mechanical snap traps and baits or non-toxic monitoring baits. Flick would consider your building, children, pets, the ability to deal with possible odours and dangers to none target animals and to humans when choosing products to eliminate your rat problem. The control method is always determined with these factors in mind.

Flick Pest Control makes use of only registered bait types, which have all been thoroughly tested in the field and proven successful. In situations where the rodent is not taking the bait or appears to have a resistance to it, the Operations Management from the Company’s technical department will investigate and develop a “tailor made” treatment method to suit the particular situation

Non-chemical control vs. Chemical control with the use of rodenticides

Snap Traps

Snap Traps are plastic mechanical traps that utilise a spring loaded jaw trapping mechanism to physically trap and kill rodents on contact without the use of poison. An attractant is used to lure the rodent to the trap, of which they get trapped and controlled that way. These devices need to be monitored on a day to day basis.

Glue Traps

Glue traps are very rarely used and only used on a client’s consent as they physically trap a rodent when they are placed in an area where rodents are active. These devices need to be monitored on a day to day basis.

Non- toxic block monitoring

Rodent tamper proof boxes with non-toxic blocks are supplied and installed primarily on the internal perimeters of one’s property or building to monitor rats and mice for clients with food safety pre-requisites. Non-toxic rodent wax blocks are placed onto spindles within the tamper proof rodent stations for monitoring purposes.

In order for a large population of rodents to flourish, there has to be an abundance of food and water, as well as easy access to a cosy nesting site. By removing or reducing the factors that make any pest population abundant, you remove and reduce the pest. This is the backbone of Integrated Pest Management! Sanitation does imply that your living or work environment is really messy or unhygienic.

Sanitation refers to effective and routine housekeeping practices that need to be maintained. This plays a role in pest control, and practices such as proper storage of food that rodents or pests could gain access to, the removal of undesirable vegetation (grass, weeds) and taking care of rubbish- should be kept in rat-proof bins with tight fitting lids and a well-organized and supervised cleaning and maintenance plan must be adhered to. Homeowners must also realise that pet foods and wild bird feed are all tasty meals for rodents.  If rats have easy access to an abundance of dog food (especially at night when feeding is heaviest), they are less likely to be attracted to the rodenticides or bait stations. The Flick inspector can help by providing expert advice on the actions required to minimise the risk of re-infestation.

Flick Pest Control Tamper Proof Rodent Bait Station

Flick Rodent Bait Station

Economical Rat-sized tamper proof rodent bait station

Versatile and easy to service with one central locking mechanism

Measurements- 90mm height x 223mm length x 190mm width

Flick Rat Trap

Rodents – A Threat To Health

Perhaps the most serious problem with rodents is their danger to health. Their reputation as carriers of the Bubonic Plague (“Black death”) was a worldwide fear as millions of people lost their lives; thankfully South Africa is free from the disease. Rats are indiscriminate in their habits. They will frequent sewers and rubbish heaps and then make themselves quite at home in roofs or kitchen cupboards.

Many disease organisms are carried by rodents, the most notable in South Africa being those that cause food poisoning, the Salmonella group. This bacterium is carried in their urine and droppings and transmitted to humans by the rodent’s constant uncontrolled urination.

Other diseases transmitted by rodents:

DISEASE CASUAL ORGANISM COMMENTS
Bubonic Plague Yersinia Pestis Transmitted to man by the Oriental Rat Flea
Murine Typhus Rickettsia Typhi Transmitted to man by the Oriental Rat Flea
Trichinosis Trichinella spiralis Caused by a roundworm parasite of swine, rodents and man
Salmonellosis Salmonella typhimurium
Salmonella enteritidis
Contamination through human contact with infected droppings
Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis Transmitted to man through contaminated food or dust
Rickettsialpox Transmitted by House mouse mites
Rat-bite fever Spirillium Minus Transmitted by the saliva in the bite of a rat or mouse
Ring worm Trichophyton, Microsporum Spread from mice or cats which have been in contact with infected mice.

Rats originated in Asia.

In 1350, 42 million people died as a result of the Bubonic Plague (Black Death) within a 3 year period, 25 million deaths occurred in Europe ( a quarter of the population). It was during this period that “rings a roses” and “hush, hush we all fall down” started. The plague was carried by the Rat and transmitted by the rat flea.

In 1896 12 million people died in India from the Bubonic Plague.

40 000 people are treated for Rat bites annually, usually small children.

A single pair of Rats, if uncontrolled can be responsible for 1560 offspring in one year.

It is estimated that there are 4 Rats for every human, giving us an estimated 17000 million Rats world wide.

In the USA it is estimated that Rats destroy 55 million dollars worth of food annually.

If the city of Bombay could be freed of Rats, enough food would be saved to feed 900 thousand people.

Rats store 4 times as much food as they can eat.

Rats can cause power failures, mechanical breakdowns, or cause fires by gnawing through lead, copper, aluminium, blocks and wood.

Rats can hear into the ultrasonic range whereas humans cannot.

Rats eye sight is only 20% that of man.

The Norway Rat, which is common in South Africa, has been known to swim continuously for 50-72 hours. Norway and Roof Rats can remain under water for up to 30 seconds.

The Norway Rat can burrow for 2-3 meters through loose sand.

Rats take care of injured and sick rats in their group.

Without companionship, rats tend to become lonely and depressed.

Rats have excellent memories. Once they learn a navigation route, they won’t forget it.

When happy, rats have been observed to chatter or grind their teeth. This is often accompanied by vibrating eyes.

Rats make happy “laughter” sounds when they play.

Rats succumb to peer-pressure, just like humans. Brown or Norway rats are prone to disregard personal experiences in order to copy the behaviour of their peers. The urge to conform is so strong that they will even choose to eat unpalatable food if they are in the company of other rats who are eating it.

Although very curious animals, rats are also shy and prefer to run away than confront a potential threat. Rats are extremely clean animals, spending several hours every day grooming themselves and their group members.

A rat can go longer than a camel without having a drink of water.

Rats’ tails help them to balance, communicate and regulate their body temperature.

The rat is the first of the twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac. People born in this year are thought to possess characteristics which are associated with rats, namely: creativity, intelligence, honesty, ambition and generosity.

Rats are recognised as the vehicle of Lord Ganesh in Indian tradition. They are worshipped at the Karni Devi Temple, where priests and pilgrims will feed them grain and milk.

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Identification and Range:

The house mouse (Mus musculus) is a small, slender rodent that has a slightly pointed nose; small, black, somewhat protruding eyes; large, scantily haired ears, and a nearly hairless tail with obvious scale rings. The adult mouse weighs about 2/5 to 4/5 ounces. They are generally grayish-brown with a grey or buff belly. Similar mice include the white-footed mice and jumping mice (which have a white belly), and harvest mice (which have grooved upper incisor teeth.)  Native to central Asia, this species arrived in North America along with settlers from Europe and other points of origin. A very adaptable species, the house mouse often lives in close association with humans and therefore is termed one of the “commonest” rodents along with Norway and roof rats. Following their arrival on colonists’ ships, house mice spread across the Americas and into Africa and now are found in just about every country worldwide.

Habitat:

House mice live in and around homes, farms, commercial establishments, as well as in open fields and agricultural lands. The onset of cold weather each autumn in temperate regions is said to cause mice to move into structures in search of shelter and food.

Food Habits:

House mice eat many types of food but prefer seeds and grain. They are not hesitant to sample new foods and are considered “nibblers,” sampling many kinds of items that may exist in their environment. Foods high in fat, protein, or sugar may be preferred even when grain and seed also are present. Such items include bacon, chocolate sweets, butter and nutmeats. A single mouse eats only about 3 grams of food per day (8 pounds per year) but because of their habit of nibbling on many foods and discarding partially eaten items, mice destroy considerably more food than they consume. Unlike Norway and roof rats, they can get by with little or no free water, although they readily drink water when it is available. They obtain their water needs from the food they eat. An absence of liquid water or food of adequate moisture content in their environment may reduce their breeding potential.

General Biology, Reproduction, and Behavior:

House mice are mainly nocturnal, although at some locations considerable daytime activity may be seen. Seeing mice during daylight hours does not necessarily mean there is a high population present, although this usually is true for rats Mice have poor eyesight, relying more on their hearing and their excellent senses of smell, taste and touch. They are considered essentially colorblind.

House mice can dig and may burrow into the ground in fields or around structures when other shelter is not readily available. Nesting may occur here or in any sheltered location. Nests are constructed of fibrous materials and generally have the appearance of a “ball” of material loosely woven together. These nests are usually 4 to 6 inches in diameter.  Litters of 5 or 6 young are born 19 to 21 days after mating, although females that conceive while still nursing may have a slightly longer gestation period. Newborn mice are naked and their eyes are closed. They grow rapidly and after 2 to 3weeks they are covered with hair and their eyes and ears are open. They begin to make short excursions from the nest and eat solid food at 3 weeks. Weaning soon follows, and mice are sexually mature as early as 6 to 10 weeks old.

Mice may breed year-round and a female may have 5 to 10 litters per year. Mouse populations can therefore grow rapidly under good conditions, although breeding and survival of young slow markedly when population densities become high.

Norway Rat, also known as the Brown Rat. Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Lifetime Details:

Time until sexual maturity 2-3 months
Adult life span 12 months
Gestation period Average 23 days
Number of young Average 8-12/ litter
Number of litters Average 4-7/ year

Norwegian Rat

Activity: Suspicious of new foods, bait trays, traps and environmental changes for several days.

Territories: Social animals living in colonies. Nest and feed together. Will travel 40-50 meters to food or water.

Nesting: Burrows in soil under slabs usually less than 50 cm deep

Drinking: Water needed daily unless food is very moist. 20-30 ml per day

Feeding: Will eat a wide range of food but only after several days sampling new food. Will then feed confidently on it. Prefer sheltered feeding

Physical capabilities:

1.  Squeeze through 12 mm holes.
2.  Climb inside a 40-100 mm pipe.
3.  Crawl along pipe, conduit or wire.
4.  Jump horizontally 2.5 m, vertically 1 m.
5.  Drop vertically 15 m without injury.
6.  Burrow 70- 100 mm diameter. 3 m into soil
7.  Swim 1 km in open water.
8.  Dive through sewer traps.
9.  Gnaw aluminum or lead sheet, plaster, and wood.
10.  Running up to 9.5 km/h

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Lifetime Details:

Time until sexual maturity 2-3 months
Adult life span 12 months
Gestation period Average 23 days
Number of young Average 8-12/ litter
Number of litters Average 4-7/ year

Roof Rat

Activity: Suspicious of new foods, bait trays, traps and environmental changes for several days

Territories: Social animals living in colonies. Nest and feed together. Will travel 40-50 meters to food or water.

Nesting: Usually above ground in dense vegetation, trees or buildings. Rarely burrows

Drinking: Water needed daily unless food is very moist. 20-30 ml per day

Feeding: Will eat a wide range of food but only after several days sampling new food. Will then feed confidently on it. Prefer sheltered feeding

Physical capabilities:

1.  Squeeze through 12 mm holes.
2.  Climb inside a 40-100 mm pipe.
3.  Crawl along pipe, conduit or wire.
4.  Jump horizontally 2.5 m, vertically 1 m.
5.  Drop vertically 15 m without injury.
6.  Burrow 70- 100 mm diameter. 3 m into soil
7.  Swim 1 km in open water.
8.  Dive through sewer traps.
9.  Gnaw aluminum or lead sheet, plaster, and wood.
10.  Running up to 9.5 km/h

BUG BLOG POSTS RELATING TO RODENTS

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