APPEARANCE & IDENTIFICATION
The largest group of mammals are the true rodents in the order Rodentia about 2,300 species so the appearance and identification of rodents is a very broad and diverse topic. However, most rodents that are associated with homes and businesses are mice, rats, squirrels, chipmunks and voles. Other mammals that may be familiar to homeowners, but are not rodents, include rabbits, shrews, moles and groundhogs. Rodents have large incisors they use to chew, have fur, and relatively large eyes.
Rodents are normally nest builders or burrowers, and most rodents choose to build their nests and burrows in places that provide good harborage where they are well protected. Of special importance to home and business owners are the synantrophic rodents, those that like to live with or in close proximity to people. In addition to damaging and destroying human foodstuffs, rodents often will cause damage to items they gnaw upon, a hereditary habit designed to keep their incisor teeth sharp and chiseled down.
Rodents may sometimes bite people or pets if they are startled and must defend themselves, but the most important issue involving rodents is the transmission of rodent diseases to humans and other animals.
Rodents are usually active throughout the year inside a structure, but outdoors are less active in the cold weather months than the warm weather months.
Rodent diets vary a great deal and include plants, seeds, nuts, and vegetables. However, those rodents that are domestic in nature those that live in close proximity to people may feed upon almost any food source that people grow, store, package, discard, or otherwise leave lying around.
The principal requirements of rodent habitat are sheltered, protected, infrequently disturbed locations that are also close to food sources and water. Typical rodent habitats around and in buildings are outside under piles of debris, overgrown vegetation, and inside where rooms, closets wall voids, or other such areas that have accumulations of clutter and are near food and water.
Rodents usually gain entrance to a home or building through openings that lead inside from the exterior. However, rodents may hitchhike inside when infested items are brought into the building.
Evidence of rodent activity includes observing the animal, their burrows or dens, plant damage, feces, tracks, rub marks from their oily fur contacting surfaces, damage to inanimate objects caused by gnawing, damage to food and food containers, and bits of paper or vegetation they use to construct nests.
OBSERVATION. Rodents are more active at night; however, if they are seen during the day, that usually means a very large rodent population is nearby.
BURROWS OR NESTS. Holes in the ground around foundations, nests in attics, basements, under kitchen cabinets, or in the basement or garage.
SOUNDS. Rodents produce noise when they move around or build nests.
GNAW MARKS. Rodents spend some of their time chewing and gnawing on wood, plastic, and other hard surfaces in order to keep their teeth chiseled down.
RUB MARKS. As rodents move from one location to another, they may leave body oils from their fur that get deposited onto corners and edges of walls and around holes and gaps they use to enter into a wall void.
DROPPINGS. Rodents excrete a lot of feces, and the presence of fecal droppings is a surefire way to spot an infestation. Remove droppings immediately and wait to see if new droppings appear. NEVER REMOVE RODENT FECES WITHOUT RESPIRATORY PROTECTION.
Rodent footprints and tracks left in dusty locations can also be a sign of an infestation
Rodent prevention is dependent on reducing the rodents availability and accessibility to food, water and harborage (protection).
Rodent control generally involves the use of products such as live and kill-type traps, toxic bait products, and traps that employ adhesive substances to capture rodents.
Your pest management professional is the best person to call for assistance in controlling rodents around your property. Some of the products he or she may use include:
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