Rodents (Rats and Mice)
Rat and Mice Control
From the white-footed rabbit rat to the long-haired rat, many are native to Australia. With European settlement came the house mouse, black and brown rats and two types of squirrels. Depending on your point of view, some or all of these are looked upon as problem pests.
Which rodents need to be controlled?
Native rodents like the hopping mouse are not considered a threat and are a protected species. As part of the food chain, they are prey for their natural predators. Invasive species such as the black and brown rats carry diseases like typhus and can cause crop and structural damage. Since invasive rodents have no natural predator, humans must find ways to control and/or eradicate such creatures.
What is the difference between mice and rats?
Rats are larger than mice, sometimes twice the size. Rats reach up to 25 cm in length and weigh up to 400 grams. Mice are about half the size, up to 10 cm long and weigh about 30 grams. Young rats can be confused for mice. Mice and rodents have continuously growing teeth that require gnawing to shorten.
Why are rats and mice considered to be pests?
Non-native rodents are a problem because they carry diseases such as typhus and leptospirosis. To get in and out of dwellings they chew through wood, sheetrock and can damage electrical and plumbing fixtures. Lastly, they can ruin food gardens.
Native rodents can be damaging, as well, but generally do not carry threat of disease. If your property has a rodent problem, and you can do so safely, identifying the type of rodent has advantages. Native rodents are generally controlled by natural predators, non-native rodents need human intervention for control and eradication.
What are the best ways to control rodents?
The most common pest rodents are non-native species, the Norway rat (brown rat), the Roof rat (black rat) and the house mouse. Again, rats are larger than mice. All have life spans of about 12 months. Rats average between four to six litters per year and the mouse averages about six to ten litters per year. As you can see, those numbers can add up to an infestation quickly if not brought under control. If you see evidence of rodent “droppings” or small chew marks on fruit, immediately do the following:
- Clean all areas thoroughly
- Discard any food that is suspected to have been in contact with the rodent
- Set traps and baits (rodenticides) in safe areas near nests but out of reach of children and pets
- Keep a record of trap and bait placement
- Remove access to all food and water sources
- Seal any openings at the foundation of buildings with strong barriers (cement, steel wool)
- Repair all water leaks and remove excess yard plantings
- Check baits and traps regularly for dead rodents
- When removing dead rodents, wear gloves and dispose of safely in sealed rubbish bins
- Spray area around dead rodents with insecticides to kill fleas that are carried by rodents
Are there natural methods of rodent control?
Native rodents are controlled by food chain activity when they are eaten by predators. Invading species must be controlled through trapping or using rodent bait. Snakes, cats and other meat-eating animals usually will not eat invasive species.
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