Tag Archives: Rats

Rats and Mice as Vectors of Diseases

mouse The word “rodent” is derived from the Latin verb rodere, meaning “to gnaw”, and rats in particular are infamous for their ability to chew through insulation and wiring in your home. With sensitive whiskers and guard hairs, rats are perceptive to touch, which is why you’ll often spot them running along walls and in between objects. Even though rats are known to have poor eyesight, their sense of smell and taste are quite sharp and these traits serve them well in foraging for food in the cover of night. Probably the least aesthetically pleasing of the rodent family, rats have a notorious reputation for their ability to destroy properties, by gnawing at structure bases and wiring, which can cause fires.

In comparison, mice are the smaller of the two but are also capable of gnawing at structures, especially those made of wood. Both rodents and mice compete with us for food sources and can wreak havoc on agriculture and stores of food.

Perhaps the worst offence is their ability to ‘vector’ diseases, fueled by their habits of using our waste and sewage coupled with their characteristically mobile nature. According to The Center for Disease Control, both rats and mice are responsible for the transmission of over 35 diseases worldwide. Whether you live in a crowded, urban area or a more rural space, rats and mice do not discriminate based on environment and can be successful in any habitat. Their close proximity to where we eat, live and go about our daily lives, can be disconcerting as there are many dangerous rodent- associated diseases that can affect humans such as: Hantavirus, rat-bite fever, plague, murine typhus, leptospirosis, lyme disease, swine dysentery and salmonella. Through their fur, saliva, urine and droppings, rats and mice can transfer diseases from contaminated areas and accelerate the spread of these diseases at a rapid rate.

What is a Vector?

According to the World Health Organization (W.H.O.), vectors are living organisms that can transmit infectious diseases between humans or from animals to humans. More commonly known vectors are fleas, mosquitoes and rats with the W.H.O. citing over 1 billion cases and over 1 million deaths from vector-borne diseases each year. In fact, vector-borne diseases account for over 17% of all infectious diseases today.

Diseases spread by rodents

Referred to as the “Black Death” the bubonic plague is one of the most widely known rodent vectored diseases, responsible for the majority of deaths during the Medieval era in Europe. Today, plague still kills many people all over the world, but other diseases have developed that can have far greater impact especially in countries that lack resource to combat this problem.

Some diseases that are directly or indirectly spread by rodents are:

  • Lassa Fever
  • Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome
  • Leptospirosis
  • Plague
  • Rat-bite fever
  • Salmonellosis
  • South American Arenavirus
  • Tularemia
  • Colorado Tick fever
  • Rickettsialpox
  • Babesiosis

Types of Rats & Mice: Ratatouille anyone?

The most common types of rats that come into close contact with humans are the Norway rats and Roof rats.

norway_rat Norway rats or brown rats are larger than roof rats and tend to burrow themselves under trash or lower levels of buildings. They are sometimes called sewer rats with short tails and small ears and eyes and will often build their nests out of cloth, shredded paper or fibrous material. They are extremely common in densely populated areas.

Roof rats or black rats are often found in coastal areas. Due to their superior climbing skills, they make their nests above ground in shrubs and trees. This also means that they are able to enter your home through trees that are close to windows, and can often be found in elevated areas such as walls, cabinets and attics.

Rats are excellent swimmers and can leap as high as 3 or 4 feet. Feasting on a variety of both plant and animal foods, rats need constant access to water. Signs of rats in your home can be easily identified by small holes in door frames or wooden baseboards, small burrows outside your home, as well as the presence of ½ inch droppings throughout the house.

Move over Mickey!

mice When we think of mice, we’re often not as grossed out by their presence as we are with their more fearsome counterpart the rat. However, mice are just as responsible for an unhealthy living environment and should not be undermined as a serious issue.

For homeowners, there are a few more common species of mice that can cause problems including the native mouse (such as the deer and white-footed), as well as the house mouse. As with rats, mice eat both plant and animal foods, but also prefer seeds and grains. They are not as dependent on a constant water source as with rats, often relying on the moisture from food to sustain them.

House mice can often be found in small spaces behind walls or appliances. In the winter months, the native mice will be sure to seek shelter indoors to escape the cold.

Even if you are not aware of the presence of mice and rats in your home, there are many unseen ways that these rodents can transmit their diseases:

  • In the case of Hantaviruses, people can become infected if the rodent dropping or urine contains a Hantavirus which may infiltrate dust that can be breathed in by humans.
  • Eating or drinking food or water that is contaminated with rat feces.
  • Direct contact with live or dead rats that are infected.
  • In rare cases, rats directly biting a human.
  • Bites from fleas or mites that are found on rats.

How to prevent a rodent infestation

The best method for preventing a rodent infestation is to eliminate the food sources that attract rodents and keep them out of the home by using an exclusion method of pest control. As a preventative measure, there are steps you can to help prevent an infestation:

  • Store food in airtight containers and avoid keeping food out on countertops overnight.
  • Pet food should not be kept outside, and if stored in pantries or basements, should also be sealed in airtight containers.
  • Keep indoor trash in lidded bins wherever possible.
  • Since mice in particular are drawn to nesting areas, avoid keeping piles of boxes, papers or clothes. This is applicable to the outside of your home where rats are more likely to make their way to piles of items and trash that may be left unattended.
  • Any entryway into the home should be checked to make sure that there are no openings for rats and mice to get through. If there are holes in floors, doors or walls, a combination of wire mesh and foam sealants can be used.

If you do have a rodent problem that seems overwhelming, it is important to contact your local Truly Nolen service experts to identify areas where these rodents are possibly entering your home. The Exclusion Method of rodent control is one of the most effective ways for your service expert to ensure that mice and rats cannot enter your home in any way. The application of this method can aid in solving the problem at its source, so that any remaining rodents on the interior of the home can be eliminated.

Oh Baby it’s Cold Outside! (Rats and Mice Think So Too)

Rat ControlAfter spending the day outside in the cold weather, there’s nothing more welcoming than stepping into a warm, cozy house. The problem is you’re not the only ones trying to escape the realities of the winter months with unpredictable drops in temperature, biting winds and sometimes, snow. As we enter into the cooler part of the year, rodents are particularly keen on finding warm areas to settle into. Attics and basements make the coziest retreats for rats and mice that are extremely capable of finding sneaky ways to enter your home, even through the smallest of openings. According to the Department of Health, if rodents can be controlled in the winter months when their breeding levels are already low, there will be fewer of them that survive when their annual breeding cycle begins in spring. In turn, this helps to decrease the overall population throughout the year.

Since natural food sources such as insects and seeds are difficult to come by during winter, rodents will be attracted to food and water that you leave lying around. It’s important to take advantage of this seasonal change by making it difficult for rodents to stake their claim on your territory.

Transmission of Diseases

Besides dealing with the obvious unpleasantness of having mice and rats in your home, there are dangerous health concerns not to be overlooked. The reputation of rodents as carriers of diseases far precedes them in any part of the world. The mere mention or sighting of a rat in an eating establishment for example, is enough to make patrons nauseated and restaurant owners nervous at the prospect of being shut down.

Rodents can transmit diseases by directly biting people or from someone ingesting food or water contaminated by infected rodent feces or urine. Breathing in dust that is contaminated, or coming into contact with mites and rat fleas can also result in the transmission of diseases such as Rat-Bite Fever, Salmonellosis, Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome, Tapeworms and Murine Typhus.

Rodents eat what?

So just because you haven’t actually seen a rat or mouse in your home does not mean they aren’t there. If you know what to look out for, you can identify a rodent problem before it gets out of hand:

  • Rodent droppings- black in color and capsule shaped, you may notice these around food and water sources in your home or in attic or basement corners.
  • With the need to constantly wear their teeth down, rodents will gnaw on wiring, pvc pipes, ducts, plumbing and chew their way through the insulation like cotton candy. Chewing through electrical wiring can be quite problematic as this can lead to attic fires that can spread throughout the home.
  • You may hear a “scratching” sound coming from your roof. This is in fact the chewing noise that rodents make as they are having a field day with that insulation in your attic!
  • Plumbing or wiring inspections may reveal a rodent problem if it is brought to your attention that wires have been chewed through.

Keeping rodents at bay

Making your home as unappealing to rodents as possible is the best way to help control a potentially hazardous situation. Remember to:

  • Store garbage inside heavy plastic or metal cans that can be closed with a lid. It’s a good idea to wait until the morning of your trash pick up to take the bin outside instead of giving rodents the opportunity to scrimmage throughout the night.
  • Keep your yard free of weeds and debris to avoid giving rodents a tempting place to hide. Avoid letting boxes or crates pile up.
  • Tightly seal and store away all food. Don’t forget the pet food!
  • Install screens on windows and sliding doors, routinely checking for holes. Door sweeps are also a good idea to block entries.
  • Seek professional pest control help if a rodent problem becomes overwhelming.

Truly Nolen’s Exclusion & Trapping Method- Rodents don’t stand a chance.

You’ve taken all the above steps to ensure that rodents do not find your home enticing, but as a final measure, calling in your Truly Nolen expert to perform an Exclusion & Trapping service is one of the most effective solutions to keep your home completely rodent free.

By “rodent proofing” your home, the exclusionary phase of this program involves your expert diligently sourcing and filling any holes, crevices or gaps that are ¼ inch or larger. Rats and mice have extremely soft bone cartilage, making it easy for them to fit through small openings. This phase of the service is complimented by an ongoing monitoring program so that the initial work performed is maintained leaving no room for error (or rats!)

Once the rodents have no way into the home, the next phase involves trapping and elimination of rats and mice that are inside. This is also an on-going process (several days to weeks) to make sure that any rodents that already exist inside the structure are trapped and removed. As one of the most effective solutions of rodent control, the Truly Nolen Exclusion method is proven to be a safe way to completely eradicate rodents from your home, only leaving behind the peace of mind that your family deserves.