Rat and Mouse Control
Rats and mice have been recognized as important disease vectors for many years. Long before people understood the biology behind human diseases, they recognized the association between large populations of rodents, and large numbers of people getting sick. In fact, there are historical records of mice in relation to the use of red squill (a type of hyacinth) as a rat poison during the first millennium B.C.
Official scientific recognition of the role of rodents in transmitting disease had to wait until 1894, however, when Alexandre Yersin discovered the bacterium that caused bubonic plague. He also demonstrated that the bacterium was present in rodents, as well as in people infected with the disease. In Yersin’s honor, the bacterium that causes plague was named Yersinia pestis.
We’ve learned a great deal about human disease transmission since 1894. We now know that rats and mice are directly involved in the transmission of many serious diseases including:
- Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome
- Hemorrhagic Fever with Renal Syndrome
- Lassa Fever
- Lymphocytic Chorio-meningitis (LCM)
- Omsk Hemorrhagic Fever
- Rat-Bite Fever
- South American Arenaviruses
The wide variety of diseases transmitted by rodents makes effective rodent control one of the most important jobs we do, and one of the most important steps you can take to safeguard your family’s health and safety.
Rodents and Electrical Wires
Another problem associated with rodents is their habit of chewing on electrical wiring. According to the National Fire Protection Association, an estimated 20 percent of home fires are caused by rodents chewing through insulation on wiring. In addition, mice and rats cause havoc to telephone and Internet communications by chewing through data and phone wiring, and have caused countless doorbells to mysteriously stop working.
Commensal Rodents of the Pacific Northwest
There are many species of rodents, but the three that commonly infest homes and other buildings are collectively known as “commensal rodents,” meaning that they “eat at the same table” as we do. By definition, these three species are the house mouse (Mus musculus), the Norway or Brown Rat (Rattus norvegicus), and the Roof Rat (Rattus rattus).
House mice (shown in the picture on the top of this page) are the smallest of the commensal rodents, weighing in at less than an ounce as adults, with body lengths averaging about three inches (not including the tail). They range in color from brown to gray, often with light-colored underbellies.
Don’t let their small size fool you, though. Mice are every bit as much of a public healthy threat as their bigger cousins the rats. In fact, because they tend to come into closer contact with humans, mice actually are more likely to make us sick.
For example, mice frequently feed on stored food in our cupboards, contaminating everything they touch with their saliva, urine, droppings, and shed hairs. They also run across bowls, plates, drinking glasses, utensils, and cooking and food preparation surfaces, contaminating them with germs in the process.
Long story short, mice have no place in homes or other human-occupied buildings. They’re serious disease vectors, despite their small size.
Norway Rats (or Brown Rats)
Norway rats are also known as brown rats, wharf rats, sewer rats, and water rats. In recent years, the common name “Norway rat” has started to be replaced by “brown rat.” Scientists, however, have known for more than 160 years that they didn’t originate in Norway.
The brown or Norway rat is the largest of the commensal rodents, with adults weighing as much as a norway-ratpound, and body lengths as long as 10 inches (plus the tail, which usually is as about the same length as the body). They’re usually brown or gray in color and have stocky bodies.
Like most rodents, Norway or brown rats have excellent senses of smell, sight, hearing, and touch, but they don’t see very well. They tend to be ground-dwellers (in nature, they usually live in burrows), but they can climb if necessary, have excellent balance, and are good swimmers.
As structural pests, Norway or brown rats usually are found in the basement, crawl space, or lower levels of a house of a house or building. They also travel through sewers and utility chase ways in urban areas; and yes, once in a great while, they do make their way up the plumbing and emerge from a toilet or drain.
Roof Rats (or Black Rats)
Roof rats are somewhat smaller and more slender than Norway rats, with adults weighing in at between 8 and 12 ounces, on average, with average body lengths of 6 to 8 inches (not counting the tail, which usually is a little longer than the body).
Unlike Norway rats, roof rats are aerialists and prefer spending their time in high places. In nature, they live in trees, using their excellent balance and aerial skills to avoid ground-dwelling predators, and descending to the ground mainly to feed. Roof rats are omnivorous, opportunistic feeders who can cause serious damage to garden and farm crops, as well as stored food and feed.
In homes and buildings, roof rats most commonly nest in unoccupied attics, mechanical spaces, and other voids near the tops of building where humans rarely enter. They can cause significant damage to insulation, heating and cooling ducts, and electrical wiring.
In addition, roof rats contaminate these areas with their urine, droppings, shed fur, and parasites. Fungi and pathogens associated with rats can become airborne and get into the human-occupied parts of buildings, especially if the building has forced-air heating or air-conditioning equipment in the attic.
Following their sensitive noses, roof rats often make their way through the walls to the kitchen of a home (or anywhere else food is stored). They sometimes scratch holes through Sheetrock to get into cupboards, cabinets, or places where pets are fed.
Rat and Mouse Extermination
At Bugaboo Pest Control, we take a different approach to rat and mouse control than most other pest control companies. We concentrate on exclusion and trapping as primary rodent control methods, using rodenticides (rat and mouse poisons) sparingly, and only when necessary. This is in keeping with our philosophy of “green” pest control, and it provides several advantages for you as our customer:
- Rat and mouse control that includes exclusion (basically, sealing rodents out of the house or building) is a more permanent, cost-effective solution to rat or mouse problems. Without exclusion, “new” rodents can get in as quickly as the “old” rodents are eliminated, and you and your exterminator will have a life-long relationship.
- Rodents who are poisoned often die inside wall and ceiling voids, and when they do, they stink. Don’t believe the old myth that they “seek water” after they’re poisoned. When animals feel sick, they usually do what we do: They go home. Minimizing the use of rodenticides minimizes the chances of a rodent dying in an inaccessible part of your home.
- Finally, rodenticides present a hazard to pets and non-target wildlife. Some rodenticides are secondarily toxic, which means that an animal that eats a poisoned rodent can also be poisoned. That in itself is a good reason to use rodenticides only when absolutely necessary.
We’re very proud of our Earth-friendly rodent control solutions. We’re happy to provide a service that’s in harmony with nature, yet still effective and economical for our customers. Please contact us for more information about rat and mouse extermination in the Portland and Vancouver areas, or any of our high-quality pest control services.