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House Mice

Mus domesticus

The house mouse is considered one of the most troublesome and economically important rodents in the United States. House mice live and thrive under a variety of conditions. They are found in and around homes and farms as well as in open fields and agricultural lands. House mice consume and contaminate food meant for humans, livestock, or other animals. They cause damage to structures and property, and they may transmit diseases such as salmonellosis (food poisoning). Micro droplets of mouse urine can cause allergies in children. Mice can also bring fleas, mites, ticks and lice into your home.
House mice are non-descript, brownish rodents with relatively large ears and small eyes. They weigh about 1/2 ounce and are usually light brownish to light grayish. An adult is about 5 1/2 to 7 1/2 inches long, including the 3- to 4-inch tail.

Although house mice usually feed on cereal grains, they will eat many kinds of food. They are sporadic feeders, nibbling bits of food here and there. Mice have keen senses of taste, hearing, smell, and touch. They are excellent climbers and can run up any rough vertical surface. They will run horizontally along wire cables or ropes and can jump up 13 inches from the floor onto a flat surface. Mice can squeeze through openings slightly larger than 1/4 inch in diameter.

In a single year, a female may have five to ten litters of usually five or six young each. Young are born 19 to 21 days after mating, and they reach reproductive maturity in six to ten weeks. The life span of a mouse is about nine to twelve months.

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Norway Rats

Rattus norvegicus

These rats have smaller eyes and ears and shorter tails.

Rats are excellent climbers and often enter a home in the fall when outside food sources become scarce.

Norway rats live in fields, farm lands and in structures. Rats are often found in woodpiles. Rodents can gain entry to a home through a hole the size of a quarter.

Rats can chew through wiring, causing fires. They also spread numerous diseases.

Rodent Control

Effective control involves three aspects: sanitation, mouse proof construction and population reduction. The first two are useful as preventive measures. When a mouse infestation already exists, some form of population reduction is almost always necessary. Reduction techniques include trapping and poisoning.

Sanitation: Because mice can survive in very small areas with limited amounts of food and shelter, it is almost impossible to eliminate them, particularly on farms. Most buildings in which food is stored, handled, or used will support house mice if not mouse-proofed, no matter how good the sanitation. Although good sanitation will seldom eliminate mice, poor sanitation is sure to attract them and will permit them to thrive in greater abundance. Good sanitation will also reduce food and shelter for existing mice and in turn make the baits and traps more effective. Pay particular attention to eliminating places where mice can find shelter. If they have few places to rest, hide, or build nests and rear young, they cannot survive in large numbers.

Rodent-Proof Construction: The most successful and permanent form of house mouse control is to "build them out" by eliminating all openings through which they can enter a structure. All places where food is stored, processed, or used should be made mouse-proof. Dried grain and meat products should be stored in glass jars, metal canisters, re-sealable coffee cans, or other air tight containers.

Brick constructed homes contain weep holes which are the most common method for mice and rats (roaches, snakes, spiders, scorpions and lizards etc. as well) to enter the home is through the brick weep holes.

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Deer Mice

Peromyscus maniculatus

The deer mouse rarely invades homes, and is found in rural areas. The deer mouse prefers the outdoors in sheltered areas such as hollow tree logs or piles of debris. On the rare occasions the deer mouse comes indoors, it prefers undisturbed areas such as attics.

The deer mouse transmits the potentially fatal Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome. The disease can be transmitted through contact with mouse carcasses, or by breathing in aerosolized urine droplets of infected deer mice.

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Roof Rats

Rattus rattus

Roof rats get their name from their tendency to be found in the upper parts of buildings. Ranging in size from 6 to 8 inches in length, not including their tails, they have very poor vision and are color blind. They do have extremely strong senses of hearing, smell, touch and taste.
Roof rats are known for the damage they cause by chewing on materials and eating stored foods.

Roof rats can be found in the upper parts of buildings, and can also be found under, in and around structures. They only need a space of one-half inch to get into buildings.
Roof rats secured their place in history by spreading the highly dangerous bubonic plague. They support many ectoparasites and urinate on food.

Recognizing Rodent Infestations

Droppings, fresh gnawing, and tracks indicate areas where mice are active. Mouse nests, made from fine shredded paper or other fibrous material, are often found in sheltered locations. House mice have a characteristic musky odor that identifies their presence. Mice are occasionally seen during daylight hours.

During the construction phase of brick-veneer structures, gaps called weep holes are purposely built into the lower layer of bricks in order to allow the wall to drain and ventilate. The unfortunate draw back of weep holes is that they allow pests free access to the interior of your walls. Solutions offers exclusion services for your home including weep hole covers that still allow the wall to drain and ventilate, but they block the entry of unwanted guests into your home. We also seal up other crack and crevices and replace and torn, damaged, or missing screening in and around your home and attic. Contact Solutions for a free pest exclusion estimate for your home or business.

Seal any openings larger than 1/4 inch to exclude mice. Patching material needs to be smooth on the surface to prevent mice from pulling out or chewing through the patching. Seal cracks and openings in building foundations and openings for water pipes, vents and utilities tightly with metal or concrete. Doors, windows, and screens should fit tightly. It may be necessary to cover the edges with metal to prevent gnawing.

Traps: Trapping is an effective control method.

There are several different kinds of traps available for use in rodent control from wood-based snap traps, multiple-capture live traps, etc. An alternative to traps are glue boards, which catch and hold mice attempting to cross them in much the same way flypaper catches flies.

Baits: Rodenticides are poisons that kill rodents. They are either non anticoagulants or as anticoagulants. The non-anticoagulants cause death either via the nervous system or via the release of calcium into the bloodstream. Anticoagulants cause death as a result of internal bleeding, which occurs as the animal's blood loses its clotting ability and capillaries are destroyed. Most of these baits cause death only after they are fed on. Depending on the type of bait used, some baits can cause death following a single feeding, although the mouse does not die for several days. Proper placement of baits and the distance between placements is important. For effective control, baits or traps must be located where mice are living.

Predators: Although cats, dogs, and other predators may kill mice, they do not give effective control in most circumstances. It is not uncommon to find rodents living in very close association with dogs and cats. Mice and rats may obtain much of their diet from the pet's dish or from what pets spill. In barns, stables, and other areas where grain based feed is always available to mice, some cats and dog breeds may help reduce mice populations.

Professional Pest Control: It usually simpler and more economical to call a professional pest control operator at the onset of the rodent problem. You will most likely spend more money purchasing traps, bait stations, and poisons than calling a pest control professional. Also the rodenticides professionals have available are often much stronger than what is offered to the public at local hardware stores.