There are various species of rodents in Canada and knowing how to distinguish them is important because they don’t have the same behaviour. Rodents pose health risks as they carry viruses. Here are the most common types of rodents that may enter your home.
Rats are bigger than mice. They usually nest in attics, walls and under porches and concrete. They introduce parasites that carry viruses into your homes such as lice, fleas, and ticks. Rats can also transmit various diseases. They weigh up to 12 pounds and are roughly 9 inches long including the tail.
These rodents are gray or brown with white beneath. They have a long, hairless tail and large teeth that constantly grow. Rats have to chew on various things to prevent their teeth from growing uncontrollably.
They chew on drywall, wood and just about anything. Rat droppings are capsule-shaped and usually 20 mm long.
· Norway Rat
Roof rats and Norway rats look similar but have different habits. Norway rat prefers damp areas such as toilet, building perimeters and crawl spaces. They like to build burrows and tunnels at ground level.
· Roof Rat
Roof rats are small and dark brown in colour. They measure between 12" and 18" long. Roof rats are agile climbers and prefer to live in dense vegetation, trees, and vines. These rodents usually infest rafters, roofs, upper stories of buildings and attics.
Mice invade homes to look for water, food, and heat. They reproduce quickly because they can produce 200 young within only four months.
These rodents not only contaminate food but also spread various diseases through their saliva and excrement including the deadly Hantavirus. Mice weigh between 20 and 40 grams. They are 6" to 7" long including the tail.
These rodents are brown or gray in colour and have small black eyes and relatively short noses. Their tail has hair on it. They are much smaller than other rodents.
Mice droppings are smaller than rat droppings and are rod-shaped and have pointed ends. These rodents usually leave urine and feces behind.
They tear up the inside of furniture and soft items such as cushions to create their nests. They gnaw through the plastic to obtain food.
· House Mouse
Also known as, domestic mice, house mice are active all year round. They don’t hibernate and can be easily identified by their grayish hairs, pointed snout, and large hairy ears. Their tail has scales.
· Field Mice
Field mice love backyards and sheds where vegetables and fruits are stored. These rodents like to eat legumes, tree seeds, and insects. They have brown fur on their back and yellowish belly hairs.
· Deer Mice
A deer mouse is white on the belly and legs and brown on top. It has a hairy tail and is a carrier of the deadly Hantavirus. Deer mice usually build nests under logs and in trees. They enter homes during the winter season to seek shelter. These rodents are usually found in the attic.
How Do You Know if there’s an Infestation in Your Home?
If you hear scratching and scampering sounds in your walls at night, damaged food packages, and signs of chewing or gnawing, it’s possible that you have a rat or mice infestation in your home.
Other signs of infestation include tracks on filthy surfaces, urine and droppings and holes or burrows around and in foundation walls. Rats and mice breed fast. It is important to deal with occasional invaders immediately to prevent a severe infestation.
Rodent Control – How to Eliminate Mice and Rats
Prevention is the best way to control rodent problems in your home or business.
Make your property less attractive to rodents
- Keep garbage in containers that have tight-fitting lids.
- Eliminate possible nesting areas in unused clutter around the garage or house. Cut tall weeds and grass.
- Avoid placing oily or fatty food waste, milk products, or eggs in the composter.
- Raise piles of wood about 1 foot or 30 cm off the ground.
- Keep the kitchen clean. Get rid of water sources such as open drains and leaky taps and pipes.
- Keep dry food in glass or metal containers.
Make your home rodent-proof
- Eliminate all entry points. Rats can squeeze through quarter-sized holes, while mice can enter your home through dime-sized cracks. Mice can also access your home through the small gaps made by worn threshold under doors.
- Rodent-proof your home by fixing cracks in the foundation and by covering attic vents, soffits, and dryer vents with mesh metal screening. Fill steel wool around pipelines before plastering or caulking.
If mice and rats have already invaded your home, here are some pest control options that you should consider.
· Ultrasonic Devices
These devices produce vibrations or sound waves that mice and rats hate. However, these rodents may get used to the device and come back. Ultrasonic devices should be used together with other methods of pest control.
If you want to use pesticides, make sure to read the label first to make sure you’re picking the right option for the critter you are dealing with.
Follow all warnings and label directions carefully. Look for a PCP (Pest Control Products) number on the labels, so you know the products are Health Canada- approved.
- Electronic traps and snap traps are effective and easy to use. Just make sure that you set and position the trap properly. These traps generally kill mice and rats immediately.
- Live traps are equipped with trap doors that are set off when a mouse or rat walks over them. Always follow the directions stated by the manufacturer on how to use the trap.
- Traps without covers are usually set at right angles to the walls. The trap’s baited end is placed close to the wall. Set one trap per meter along walls or five to ten traps for every visible mouse hole.
You should allow a three to four-day warm-up period. Bait the trap, but don’t set it. This way, the mice or rats will be more attracted to the bait.
- Use sticky foods with a strong odour such as peanut butter and bacon grease mixed with raisins, gumdrops, or oats as baits.
- Reuse the trap because it is more attractive to mice and rats. Move the trap to various sites if the bait doesn’t disappear on a regular basis.
- Reset the trap in two to three weeks to capture maturing mice and rats. You can also use glue traps with or without any kind of bait. Check all kinds of trap every day.
- Poisoned baits are usually used to control rodents. It should be used with a tamper-resistant bait station in sites accessible to pets and children. Read the label and follow all safety precautions and directions properly.
- Anticoagulant rodenticides are available in solid forms like paraffin block. It prevents blood clotting. Anticoagulants are generally highly toxic, so keep them away from pets and children.
There are products that contain non-anticoagulant poisons such as bromethalin and active ingredient cellulose from crushed corn cobs.
- Repellents can be used to discourage rodents from damaging ornamentals, young trees, garbage bags, and structures. Commercial class products should be applied by a qualified professional. They can access other kinds of bait like loose pre-mixed bait.
- Poisons and baits are not the only way to control mice and rats. Proper sanitation and keeping your property mouse and rat-proof can help you achieve the best results.
How to Clean Your Home when Dealing with a Rodent Infestation
Wear a dust mask and rubber gloves during cleanup. Be careful when near droppings and urine. Dampen debris and droppings with water and bleach solution before cleaning the area. Don’t vacuum or sweep dry droppings because raised dust particles can cause illnesses.Wear gloves to get rid of dead mice and rats. Double bag the body of dead mice and rats in plastic bags and keep them in a garbage bin with a tight-fitting lid. Wash your hands thoroughly and separate exposed clothing from other soiled clothes.