National Pest Management Month
While there are over 1,500 rodent species in the world, many of which you're sure to recognize, like hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs, squirrels, beavers, and chinchillas, the two creatures that pop into our minds when the term "rodents" is used, are mice and rats. These two rodents have made quite an impact on us. And, while they have many similarities, such as long tails, beady black eyes, long whiskers, ever-growing incisors, and an attraction to making their home in man-made structures, we're going to focus on what makes these two animals different.
A full grown house mouse measures around 12 to 20 cm. A full grown rat is around 40 cm. But, bear in mind that a full grown adult mouse and a baby rat can look similar when they are scurrying along a wall in your kitchen or pantry.
Rats are bigger than mice, and they eat more than mice, so it is not surprising that they also weigh more than mice. A typical rat will weigh around 8 ounces. A typical mouse will weigh only around .7 ounces. Weight varies depending on many factors.
Both mice and rats are omnivores, which means they eat plants and animals, but they tend to enjoy different food items. Rats tend to eat more, since they are larger and can get into larger items. They will eat anything, but generally gravitate toward items such as meats, pet foods, fish, and stored cheeses. Mice prefer grains, fruits, vegetables, seeds, and nuts, but the can eat meat, including the meat from dead mice. During times of starvation, a mouse will even eat its own tail!
Mice and rats have long tails. While mouse tails look longer than rat tails, in comparison to the length of their bodies, rat tails are actually longer. Rat tails measure around 8 to 25 cm, while mouse tails measure only 5 to 10 cm.
In a female mouse's short lifespan of 1.5 to 2.5 years, she can produce more than 300 offspring. And those offspring can begin mating as early as 4 weeks of age! As you can probably imagine, a couple of mice can produce a large population quickly. But, mice can't compete with rats. In one short year, a pair of rats can produce as many as 2,000 descendants.
Mice and rats are known to forage in filthy areas, such as dumpsters, trash cans, and sewers. While in these places, they eat decomposing materials and pick up bacteria. When they are crawling around on your counters and inside cabinets and drawers, they will introduce harmful bacteria by brushing their fur on surfaces, dishes, and silverware, and by leaving their droppings everywhere they roam. To distinguish between mice and rat droppings, it is important to know their different sizes and shapes. Rat droppings are larger, with more rounded ends, measuring around 7 to 9 mm. Mouse droppings are more pointy at the ends and only measure 4 to 7 mm.
Although both mice and rats have the need to chew constantly because of their ever-growing incisors, rats tend to do more damage, since they are bigger and have stronger teeth. In fact, rats have been known to chew through wire mesh, cinder blocks, aluminum, concrete, and brick. Those are some pretty strong teeth! However, those little mice can do some pretty significant damage as well. Mice can deface stored items in the attic, wooden structures, and will even chew on wiring, which can cause a house fire. It is not a good idea to have either of these two rodents in your home.
If you are seeing or hearing evidence of rodents inside your home or business, one important thing to note is that both these rodents can be extremely difficult to completely eradicate without professional help. If you need assistance, the team here at American Pest would be happy to help.
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