The Norway rat (also known as the common brown rat) is a destructive pest. These rodents eat and contaminate large amounts of feed, damage structures by their gnawing and burrowing, and spread diseases that affect livestock and humans.
Norway rats are robust rodents that usually weigh about 11 ounces. Adults are 13 to 18 inches long, including a 6- to 9-inch tail. Their fur is coarse, brownish and scattered with black hair on the upper surfaces. The belly fur is typically gray to yellowish-white, and they sport a naked, scaly tail.
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Rats will eat nearly anything, but they prefer high-quality foods such as fresh grain, livestock feed, and meat. Rats require 1 fluid ounce of water daily when feeding on dry food.
Rats have keen senses of hearing, smell, taste and touch. They will climb to find food or shelter, and can gain entrance to a building through any opening larger than 1/2 inch in diameter.
Rats have litters of six to 12 young, which are born 21 to 23 days after mating. Young rats are sexually mature in about three months. Breeding occurs mostly in spring and fall. The average female has four to six litters per year. Individuals usually live 12 to 18 months.
House Mice Are Smaller Than Rats
The house mouse is considered one of the most troublesome and economically important rodents in the United States. House mice consume and contaminate food meant for humans, livestock, or other animals. They cause damage to structures and property, and they transmit diseases such as salmonellosis and swine dysentery.
Droppings, fresh gnaw marks and tracks indicate areas where mice are active. Mouse nests, made from fine shredded paper or other fibrous material, often are found in sheltered locations. House mice have a characteristic musky odor that identifies their presence. Mice are active mostly at night, but can be seen occasionally during daylight hours.
House mice are small rodents with relatively large ears and small black eyes. They weigh about 1/2 ounce and usually are light gray in color. An adult is about 5 1/2 to 7 1/2 inches long, including the 3 to 4-inch tail.
Although house mice usually feed on cereal grains, they will eat almost anything. They are sporadic feeders, nibbling bits of food here and there.
Mice have keen senses of hearing, smell, taste and touch. They are excellent climbers and can run up any rough vertical surface. They will run horizontally along wire cables or ropes and can jump up 12 inches from the floor onto a flat surface. Mice can squeeze through openings slightly larger than 1/4 inch in diameter.
In a single year, a female may have five to 10 litters of usually five or six young each. Young are born 19 to 21 days after mating, and they reach reproductive maturity in six to 10 weeks. The life span of a mouse is usually nine to 12 months.
Treatment Has Three Parts
Effective control involves three aspects: sanitation, mouse-proof construction, and population reduction. When a mouse infestation already exists, some form of population reduction almost always is necessary. Reduction techniques include trapping, poisoning, and fumigation.