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It’s never a pleasant sight to see a mouse or a rat in your property. In most cases, if there’s one, there’s definitely more. Unfortunately, these rodents never leave on their own and an infestation is imminent.
Although both rodent species do the same damages to your property and carry the same diseases, it’s good to know which type of pest you are dealing with. The exterminators from Fantastic Rodent Control reveal the characteristics of mice and rats, and how to solve an infestation problem.
Differences Between Rats and Mice
There are many characteristics that make rats and mice different, from appearance, to diet, to the mischief they cause.
The first thing that distinguishes these two vermin is their size. Mice are considerably smaller, they are between 12 and 20 cm in length and about 50g in weight, while rats grow up to 40 cm and 300g respectively.
Mice have a triangular snout with long whiskers, while rats have a duller snout.
The tail of a mouse is long, often longer than their whole body, and covered in hair. A rat’s tail is shorter, thicker, hairless and scaly.
If you are aware you have an infestation in your house, attic, or yard, but you’ve never been able to locate a rodent, living or dead, you can guess what they are by the droppings they leave.
A mouse produces 40 to 100 droppings per day. Those are about 3-8 mm long with pointed ends.
A rat produces 20 to 50 droppings per day. Those are shaped like a banana and are up to 2 cm long.
You might think rats and mice have the same dirty lifestyle of a rodent that lives off of just about anything, but there are some considerable differences between the two.
Unlike rats, mice are able to survive with only 3 ml of water a day, which makes them a really good survivor. Rats need at least 15 ml of water per day, which is still impressive.
In general, both species would eat anything to survive, however their favorite foods are wheat products like bread, cereal, etc. Some rat species can get pickier and eat only fruit and nothing else.
Lifespan and Breeding
The lifespan of both mice and rats is a matter of months, which is why they reach sexual maturity in 8-12 weeks after their birth, and also breed in big populations.
Mice give 4-16 pups a litter, and give about 7-8 litters per year, while rats make 5-10 pups per litter, and 3-6 litters per year.
Smaller animals that are hunted by most predators breed in larger numbers in order to keep the species going. Mice are preferred by a lot more predators in nature.
This is why both rats and mice seek shelter in people’s houses – warmth, lots of hiding places, no wild predators and a constant food and water supply.
How to Prevent a Rat or Mouse Infestation
To prevent your property from becoming a refuge for these pests you should consider the following advice:
Don’t leave food out in the open. The best way to lure the pesky rodents in, is to present them with an open buffet for their starving tiny stomachs. Don’t leave food on the table, in the sink, in the garbage bin, even in packages in the kitchen. Both rats and mice can smell it from a great distance.
Fix all pipes. Sometimes it’s not just the food, but also the water that lures them in. Fix every leaky pipe in the kitchen and bathroom.
Seal holes. Look around your property for possible entry points and seal them with steel wool and caulk, denying the easy access.
Get a cat. Cats are able to chase away the first signs of rodents. However they are only good for prevention – these vigilant guardians will cast them away for good. But if you already have an infestation, you cannot fully rely on a cat to banish them.
Get a rodent deterrent. Install an electronic device, which emits sound waves that have no effect on human ears, but are dreadfully annoying to rodents’. They won’t dare to approach.
How to Get Rid of Rats or Mice in the House
Getting rid of mice is not that different to getting rid of rats. Both species need similar pest control. Mice and rats can be taken care of using identical methods, and every rat exterminator will instruct you to follow these steps for a successful treatment:
Remove the attractors. The very first thing you need to do is to remove everything that caused the infestation in the first place. This includes food, leaky water, shelter, warmth. Remove all the clutter in attics, closets, basements and any other place that might be used for nesting.
Find the entry points. Walk around the exterior and interior of your home and look for any holes, cracks or any other openings that might serve for a passageway for your uninvited guests. Arm yourself with some caulk and fill any gaps you find. It would at least slow them down a little and maybe keep some new ones from coming. Bear in mind that this could also trap some of the rodents in a place they cannot escape and die. If this happens, you will know by the smell. Dispose of any carcasses immediately.
Use conventional traps. Get conventional mouse and rat traps from the home maintenance store. They are simple, but do a terrific job. Bait the traps with peanut butter and place them at the entry points, or somewhere on the pathway of the rodents. In a week, you might decrease their population significantly. The only problem is, you will have to dispose of the caught rodents yourself. Make sure to use gloves and a face mask while doing so.
Use poison. Poisons are very effective against infestations, but don’t forget that they are also dangerous for humans. It’s not recommended to use poison if you have children or pets in the house.
Use alternative methods. Alternatives in rodent control can include the following:
Live traps. Live traps do exactly what the name says – they trap the rats or mice without killing them. For people who prefer a more humane way to dispose of these creatures, you can use those. You still need to get rid of them by yourself, so keep the gloves and face mask on.
Repel naturally. Wormwood and mint are herbs that easily chase away mice and rats. This method is very effective against a garden infestation, to plant these herbs in between your other flowers, or vegetables. The odour would do its job. In your home, you can keep fresh mint leaves on the shelves, or use mint essential oils throughout the house.
There’s a common misconception that rats and mice get only in poorly maintained homes. This is simply not true – like every animal, they go where there is food, which is why the best pest control is prevention. But when you have a serious infestation you cannot handle yourself, it’s important to know when you have to rely on professionals to make your life easier.