Rat Control Tips
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Protecting businesses and homes in South Africa from Pests for 50 Years
There are just two species of rats and one species of mice that have become the most common pests in homes and businesses, and this is due to their ability to adapt to the human environment.
All rodents can commonly be identified by the pair of incisor teeth in their upper jaw. They have shorter legs and a longer tail, but a closer look at their body characteristics and habits shows that there are recognisable features that you can use to determine which pest is inhabiting your premises.
The most obvious distinguishing feature between rats and mice is size; a house mouse is usually 3-10 cm long. However, a mouse can be confused with a young rat. Here’s what to look out for:
Both rats and mice are omnivorous, but the brown rat and house mouse prefer cereals, while black rats prefer fruit and foods with a high moisture content.
Where do brown rats live?
Brown rats usually live on the ground and burrows. They are usually spotted throughout buildings, in sewer systems and outdoors. Their burrowing can cause extensive damage to sewers. The brown rat tends to walk on the pads of their feet and the surfaces that it travels along show continuous smudges from the oily fur.
Where do black rats live?
Black rats are mostly confined to buildings around ports and in ships in temperate countries (hence the name ‘ship rat’). They are agile and a good climbers (hence the name ‘roof rat’), nesting high up under roofs, which is why you might hear the scurrying sounds of rats in the ceiling. In warmer countries, where they originate, black rats will nest in trees, especially in woodland and orchards. Black rats walk on their toes and the surfaces that the roof rat travels along show separated smudges.
Where do mice live?
Even though mice usually live on the ground and nest in burrows, they are agile and can climb. In heavy infestations, grease from their body combined with dirt and urine can build into small pillars (referred to as “urine pillars”). These can remain for a long period of time, so may not indicate a current mouse infestation. A mouse obviously has a smaller footprint than a rat.
The droppings of the three animals differ in size and shape, according to the body size. Rat droppings can often been mistaken for mouse droppings or even for cockroach droppings.
Mice reach sexual maturity earlier than rats and produce larger litters at a more frequent rate than rats. The newborn of all three rodents are blind, hairless and entirely dependent on the mother for feeding and protection.