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About Rats
Norway Rats Roof Rats House Mice
Norway Rats
The Norway rat is also known as the Brown rat, Gray rat, Common rat, House rat, Wharf rat, Sewer rat, Barn rat and Water rat. They are not actually from Norway, but were first identified there. They are difficult to eliminate once they get inside a house/building.

Their color varies from completely black to grayish brown, reddish brown. Their underside is usually gray to off-white. The body is heavy and thick, from 7 to 10 inches long. They weight between 12 to 24 ounces. The tail is shorter than the body--about 6 to 8 1/2 inches long. The tail is dark on top with a lighter underside.

Norway rats are able to chew through wood, metals like lead, aluminum, copper, even cinder block and uncured concrete. They burrow extensively in soil and are excellent swimmers and good climbers. They prefer basements and lower portions of buildings for their nest. Norway rats are nocturnal as most of their activities and feeding takes place between a half-hour after sunset and a half-hour before sunrise. They also have a very strong social hierarchy - the biggest and strongest Norway rats get the best food and harborage.

They are omnivores-they can eat just about anything, but they prefer meats, fish, flour, cereal grains, fruits and vegetables. They consume 3/4 to 1 ounce of food each day and require water daily to survive, from 1/2 to 1 ounce of water every day. Norway rats are best suited for temperate zones. They are mostly found in the old established downtown and dock areas, and have become quite prolific in that environment, so they are not as much a problem for the homeowner.

Life Cycle:
Norway rats will become sexually mature in 3-5 months of age. The females create a nest in isolated places when inside a building, or in burrows or tunnels when outside. There can be from four to seven litters each year, with up to a dozen young in each litter, so the population can grow quite rapidly. Adults only live from 9-12 months.
   
Roof Rats
Roof Rats are probably the most common rat species found. They are also known as Alexandrian rats, Black rats, Fruit rats and Ship rats. They will explore their usual territory daily, covering about 100 to 300 feet. Rats will frequent the same areas and travel the same runways daily. Because they are nocturnal by habit, most of their activity is at night.

The body is slender, from 6 1/2 to 8 inches long. They have an average weight of 6 to 12 ounces. Their color varies from black to brownish-gray, with the underside being gray to white. The tail is hairless and longer than the head and body, from 7 1/2 to 10 inches long.

Roof rats will not only nest in trees (especially palms), ivy, and ground cover, but also in upper portions of buildings. They are omnivores--their food source consists of snails, fruits, grains, vegetables, nuts and seeds, pet food and items from unsealed garbage containers, and just about anything leftover from humans. They usually consume 1/2 to 1 ounce of food daily, and drink up to 1 ounce of water daily. A water source is also essential. The Roof rat is notable by its larger ears, pointed nose, a tail that is longer than the body, and an average body weight of 6-12 ounces. Roof rats also have a sharp sense of smell.

Rats spread disease, damage structures, and contaminate food, animal feed, and the environment around them. Because a single pair of rats shed more than one million body hairs each year, and a single rat will produce 25,000 droppings per year, contamination is a serious problem. Additionally, the physical damage to structures which can include electrical, plumbing, and woodwork problems can be extensive and costly.

Life Cycle:
The female Roof rat reaches sexual maturity at 3 months of age. They are in heat approximately every 4-5 days. The gestation period is 21 to 23 days, with each litter being 5-8 pups. After giving birth the female is capable of being in heat again in 24 to 48 hours, so many generations can be produced each year.
   
House Mice
The House mouse is a small, slender rodent with a slightly pointed nose; small, black, somewhat protruding eyes; large, sparsely haired ears; and a nearly hairless tail with scale rings. House mice are considered among the most troublesome and economically damaging Rodents.

Adult House mice weigh from 1/2 to 1 ounce. They are generally grayish brown with a gray or off-white belly. House mice live in and around homes, farms, commercial establishments, and in open fields and agricultural lands. House mice will eat many types of food but prefer seeds and grain. Foods high in fat, protein, or sugar may be preferred even when grain and seed are present. Such items include bacon, chocolate candies, butter, and nutmeats. Unlike Norway and Roof rats, House mice can survive with little or no water, obtaining their water from moisture in the food they eat.

House mice are mainly nocturnal, although in some areas a lot of daytime activity may be seen. Seeing mice during the day does not necessarily mean that a high population is present, although this is usually true for rats. Studies indicate that during its daily activities, a mouse normally travels an area averaging between 10 to 30 feet in diameter. Mice will seldom travel farther than this to obtain food or water. Because of their limited movement and feeding behavior they are much more difficult to control in some situations.

House mice can also cause damage to buildings by their gnawing and nest-building activities, in addition to their contamination of foods. Mice often make homes in large electrical appliances, and they may chew up wiring as well as insulation, resulting in short circuits, which can create fire hazards or expensive damage. Mice may also damage stored items in attics, basements, garages, or museums.

Among the diseases mice or their parasites may transmit to humans are salmonellosis (food poisoning), rickett-sialpox, and lymphocytic choriomeningitis. Mice may also carry leptospirosis, rat bite fever, tapeworms, and organisms that can cause ringworm (a fungal skin disease) in humans.

Life Cycle:
Litters of 5 or 6 young are born 19 to 21 days after mating. Mice are born hairless and with their eyes closed. They grow rapidly, and after 2 weeks their eyes and ears open and they are covered with hair. They begin to make short excursions from the nest and eat solid food at 3 weeks. Weaning soon follows, and mice are sexually mature at 6 to 10 weeks of age. Mice may breed year-round. The female has 5 to 10 litters per year. Mouse populations can therefore grow very rapidly under ideal conditions.