Life Cycle of Rodents

Rats and mice reproduce fast. Their short gestational periods, fast sexual maturity, and relatively short life cycle make effective rodent control important. The number of offspring and reproductive cycle of rodents increases with adequate water, food, and shelter.

Mouse Life Cycle

The usual life cycle of mice varies, but they generally live up to 2 years indoors. Mice can spread diseases and cause damage to your property.

A female mouse can have more than 60 offspring within a year. When this happens, it’s no longer a mouse problem. It is already an infestation.

Every litter is usually composed of five or six mouse pups. However, it is not uncommon to see 12 mouse pups in a litter. It only takes 19 to 21 days for a female mouse to produce a litter.

A female mouse can have 5 to 10 litters every year. They can mate immediately after birthing. This means that they can produce a second litter in 25 days after their first. The cycle continues until the female mouse dies.

What a Mouse Looks like When it is Born

When mouse pups are born, they are, blind, and don’t have ears and fur. Since they are weak and can’t see, the mother mouse takes care of them for 21 days.

They grow fast. Their ears are completely developed on the 4th day. Hair starts to grow around the 6th day. They have a coat of fur on the 10th day.

Their eyes will not open until around the 13th or 14th day. After that, the pups are nearly fully-grown adults. Weaning happens on the 21st day.

Many young female pups stay in their mother’s territory for a while, but most males leave. Nursing is over for both males and females and they are ready to begin chewing through various items and food.

Mouse Lifespan

The female house mouse becomes sexually mature at 6 weeks old. They are ready to mate and give birth to their own litter. This quick process of maturation gives them immense breeding capability, which is enhanced when they live indoors because they can breed any time of the year.

When they live outdoors, they breed only during fall, spring, and summer. They can’t successfully breed during winter because the temperature is too harsh for them.

Their lifespan increases when they live indoors. The average lifespan of a mouse is only about 1 year outdoors, but this number can become 2 to 3 years indoors because they are not exposed to natural predators or harsh environments. They produce future generations and chew through your valuable possessions.

Rat Life Cycle

The roof rat and the Norway rat are the most common species of rats that can be seen in the United States. Most species live in nests composed of several females, the young rats, and an alpha or dominant male.

The alpha male will prevent other male rats from mating with the females in his nest. He also protects the family. A lot of families have several nest sites. They move between these nests depending upon the availability of water and food sources.

Nest sites can be found at a low or high elevation, depending on the species of rat. For instance, roof rats live in crawl spaces, shrubbery, trees, or attics.

Norway rats are usually found below ground or on the ground floor. Rats can travel up to 300' from their nests to patrol their territory and to look for water and food. They will travel much farther if their source of water and food dries up.

What Does a Rat Look like When it is Born?

A female rat usually gives birth to 6 to 10 babies. The gestation period for most species of rats is around 3 weeks.

Young rats don’t have fur and are blind. They are weaned about 3 weeks later and are ready to reproduce at 3 months-old because they’re already sexually mature. They mate near their birthplace but will move to a new site if the place is crowded.

Rat Lifespan

Rats will live for about 1 year outdoors. Female rats often outlive males. Predation shortens their lifespan.

Other causes of death for rats include domestic animals such as dogs and cats, vehicles, winged animals like owls and hawks, weasels, snakes, foxes and coyotes. Rat in urban areas usually dies due to different pest control methods such as baits and traps.

Roof rats and Norway rats are capable of mating at 8 to 12 weeks old. A litter of Norway rats may consist of 8 to 12 pups.

They can have 4 to 7 litters every year. A litter of roof rats may consist of 4 to 8 pups. They can have 4 to 6 litters every year.

Norway rats, roof rats, and house mice have the same reproductive characteristics. Female rats and mice are ready to mate within 24 to 48 hours after giving birth. Females can lactate to feed their existing litter and be pregnant at the same time.

Their gestation period, however, can be a little longer. They can reproduce year-round in a stable environment with sufficient water, harborage, and food.

Rats don’t only cause property damage, but also pose risks to human health. They carry pests and parasites like ticks and fleas that can transmit diseases. Rats can also carry various illnesses and spread it through their feces, saliva, or urine. These are the common diseases they transmit to humans:

  • Bubonic Plague - It’s a very serious disease that is transmitted through the fleas that nest on rats.
  • Hantavirus - Hantavirus has a wide range of symptoms, but infected individuals get extremely sick very fast. It is a potentially toxic virus that’s transmitted through the urine of infected rats.
  • Rat Bite Fever - The infected individual may vomit and have a fever. These symptoms progress into severe skin inflammation. Rat bite fever is a disease in the rat’s saliva. It’s transmitted through the bite of the infected rat.
  • Leptospirosis - Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease. Symptoms range from pain, fever, and aches to more serious symptoms like kidney failure and bleeding in the lungs. Leptospirosis can lead to meningitis as well.
  • Rickettsial Disease - Some diseases fall into this group and are also caused by the parasites and fleas found on rats. These diseases include two different kinds of spotted and typhus fever.

Should You Try a DIY Method or Hire a Professional Pest Control Company?

You should stop the life cycle of rodents before you experience any of these problems. There are two ways to do this. You can get rid of either the rodents on your own or hire a professional to help you shorten the lifespan of these critters. If you want to use pesticides, you should read and follow the instructions and safety guidelines stated on the label of the product.

You can also hire a rodent exterminator who has the right tools and knowledge for the job. They know where the rodents are nesting and how to drive them out of your home.

These professionals can also give recommendations on how to keep rodents out and prevent them from coming back. When you choose to hire a pest control technician, you have to prep your home for the service to make the treatment as long-lasting and effective as possible.

The pest control technician will give you a list of activities to prep your home before they arrive. Since lack of proper preparation could cause rodent re-infestation or make the treatment procedure unsafe, many pest control technicians won’t treat sites that aren’t prepared to their specifications.

These are the most common recommendations or requests made by pest control technicians. Follow these recommendations before using over-the-counter pest control product on your own.

Once you’ve set an appointment with a pest control technician, it is time to get your place ready for the treatment plan.

How to Prep Living Areas

  • Check the baseboards and walls for spaces that don’t close properly or small holes. Repair and fill any spaces and gaps you find.
  • Vacuum, clean and sweep all living areas inside your home.
  • Throw away all trash and keep tight-fitting lids on garbage bins.
  • Move furniture pieces away from walls so you can inspect these areas.
  • Eliminate paper, boxes, bags and any unnecessary storage because mice and rats love these areas.

How to Prep Your Kitchen

  • Check the lower and upper cabinets for food items like bread or chips is that stored in bags. Such items are rodent bait. Rats and mice can chew through the bags. Store them properly.
  • Move items on top of your fridge or under the sink because the pest control technician will need easy and quick access to these sites.
  • If the food is not in a can or jar, you should keep it in the fridge or in heavy plastic containers. You should do this before the pest control technician arrives and for 2 weeks after the treatment procedure.

Safety Measures to Observe When Handling Rodents

If you know there’s a rodent infestation in your home or you’ve seen a mouse or rat, you should realize that your property is susceptible to health hazards.

Keep you and your family healthy and safe by eliminating rodent urine and feces properly. You should also get rid of any sources of food they can take advantage of.

Wash your hands properly after handling rodent feces and infested areas. Create a list of areas where you’ve seen rodents or any sign of them. When the pest control technician arrives, you will be ready to explain the current situation and show areas where rodents have been seen. 

These tips are a general guide to prep your home for the professional pest control treatment. By following these tips, you can help make their job go smoothly and improve the success of the treatment plan.

You can also practice these tips before you use over-the-counter pest control products on your own. Follow these tips properly and you can keep your home rodent-free.