Rats & Mice
Worldwide, rats and mice spread over 35 diseases. These diseases can be spread to humans directly, through handling of rodents, contact with rodent feces, urine or saliva, or through rodent bites. Diseases carried by rodents can also be spread to humans indirectly, through ticks, mites or fleas that have fed on an infected rodent. The primary strategy for preventing human exposure to rodent disease is effective rodent control in and around the home. This is achieved by eliminating any food source, excluding entry points into the home, and successfully trapping rodents around the home. Also, a good reason to take rodent control seriously, is to help reduce the chance of seeing unwanted predators like the Texas Rat Snake in your backyard.
The gestation period is around 19–21 days, and they give birth to a litter of 3–14 young. One female can have 5 -10 litters per year, so the rodent population can increase very quickly. Breeding never stops and occurs throughout the year.
Peromyscus is a type of rodent whose members are commonly referred to as deer mice. They are distantly related to the common house and laboratory mouse. From this relative, Peromyscus species are distinguished by relatively larger eyes, and also often two-tone coloring, with darker colors over their back, and white abdominal and limb hair-coloring. In reference to the coloring, the word Peromyscus comes from Greek words meaning “booted mouse”. They are also accomplished jumpers and runners by comparison to house mice, and their common name of “deer mouse” is in reference to this agility.
One of the largest of all rats and mice, it is a brown or grey rodent with a head and body length of up to 12 inches long, and a slightly shorter tail. It commonly weighs between 5 to 18 ounces but there have been some cases where they can get upwards of 5 pounds. Thought to have originated in northern China, this rodent has now spread to all continents except Antarctica, and is the dominant rat in Europe and much of North America, making it by at least this particular definition the most successful mammal on the planet alongside humans. With rare exceptions, the brown rat lives wherever humans live, particularly in urban areas.
Mice are widespread pests, and one of the most common rodents to infest human buildings. They commonly forage outdoors during the spring and summer, but retreat into buildings through the fall and winter to seek warmth and food. They typically feed on unattended food, leftovers and garden produce. Their foraging risks the contamination and degradation of food supplies, and can also spread other pests such as fleas, ticks, and lice. When infesting homes, house mice may pose a risk of damaging and compromising the structure of furniture and the building itself. They gnaw various materials to file down their growing teeth and keep the length under control. Common damage includes gnawed electrical wires, marks on wooden furniture and construction supporting elements, and textile damage.
A typical adult black rat is 5-8 inches long, not including a 6-9 inche tail, and weighs about a half pound, depending on the subspecies. Despite its name, the black rat exhibits several color forms. It’s usually black to light brown with a lighter underside. In England during the 1920s, several variations were bred and shown alongside Norway rats. This included an unusual green-tinted variety. The black rat also has a scraggly coat of black fur, and is slightly smaller than the Norway rat.