Mice have been sharing people’s food and shelter for many years. Mice and rats posses chisel-like incisor teeth which grow continuously throughout their lives. Most common are the house mouse. Diseases transmitted and spread by these pests are the plague, murine, typus, rickettsial pox, salmonello, rat-bite fever and weils disease or letospirosis. The house mouse is capable of surviving in any environment due to its small size . Its body is slender and weighs between 1/2 to 1 ounce as an adult. Its fur is dark gray on the back and light gray on its belly. A female can produce four to seven pups per litter following a gestation period of about 19 days. She will produce about eight litters in her lifetime. If conditions are good, (plenty of food and water) a female will give birth to a litter every 24 to 28 days.
In suburban and rural areas, the mouse may live within buildings and also outdoors among the weeds and shrubbery or in nearby building foundations, within storage sheds, crawl spaces, or garages. Inside mice will set up their nests near food sources. Nests are commonly located within walls, ceilings, closets, cabinet voids, within large appliances, in storage boxes, drawers, desks, or upholstery of furniture. Their nests are made of paper, insulation, furniture stuffing, of any soft material chewed into small bits to make a soft bed. Outdoor mice construct their nests among debris or in ground burrows. Mice can travel within rooms along wall areas, between floors, from crawl spaces to kitchens, and from attics and suspended ceilngs to rooms one or two floors below.
In most infestations, mice feed during the night, with heavy activity during dusk, and also shortly before dawn. Mice activity during the day indicates a severe infestation. Mice will eat almost anything. Cereal grains and various seeds are preferred. They also will feed on meats, peanut butter, nuts sweet liquids and candies.
Trapping is one of the most effective methods of controlling rodents. Traps are safe and provide quick results. Non- hazardous baits are used, and immediate disposal of dead rodents occurs so there is no potential of odor problems within the home or building.
The Norway Rat is also known as the house rat, brown rat, wharf rat, sewer rat, gray rat or water rat. Norway rats are larger , stronger , and more aggressive than roof rats. They are better adapted for producing young and surviving in colder climates then other species.
The Norway Rat is between 12 and 16 ounces and has coarse body hair . Its color ranges from reddish to grayish brown with buff white underparts. Their tail is scaly and semi-naked and shorter than their head and body combined. Breeding occurs in the spring and fall and decreases in hot summer and cold winter. A female gives birth to a litter of 8- 12 pups with a gestation period of about 22 days. Rats, like, mice are social animals and live in colonies. The Norway rat is a ground dwelling animal and nest outdoors in underground burrows. Rats can inhabit residences, food facilities, warehouses, hotels, stores, zoos, sewers, and dumps, and ponds and lakes in our parks.
Rats prefer household garbage, cereal grains, fish, meat, livestock feed, vegetables and fruits. They will seek food and enter buildings and return to their outdoor burrows after feeding. Rats living in fields and wooded areas will kill and eat various small mammals, birds, and insects. In sewers, rats will kill and eat cockroaches. They are most active at night, at dawn and at dusk. Indoor nests are in lower floors or building. When populations are large, they will occupy attic areas, suspended ceilings, and upper floors. Nests may be located in crawl spaces, in furniture, and in stored pallets of supplies. The nests are made of soft material (paper, cloth, hay, leaves, grass, etc) that is chewed into small bits to make a loosely matted mass. Outdoor nests are in burrows in the ground along side of foundation buildings. The territories of most rats are between 50 and 150 feet of their nests. Rats will travel 300 feet or more daily for their food and water.
The Roof Rat is also known as the black rat, ship rat, or gray-bellied rat, Alexandrine rat and white-bellied rat. They are smaller and sleeker than the Norway rat. Adults weigh between 5 and 9 ounces. Their color is grayish black to a solid black. Their snout is pointed and their ears are large. Their tail is long. The Roof rat prefers to eat seeds and plant foods such as fresh vegetables or fruits. It is a climber and commonly lives “above the ground” in “roof” or aerial areas around structures. Nests may be located in trees, clinging vines, inside attic areas, ceiling voids, wall voids, or on the sides of buildings and fences. They enter buildings from roof line areas. Roof rats do not restrict themselves to aerial areas only . As local populations of roof rats grow, they will expand their nesting areas to underground burrows, under piles of rubbish, and ground floor areas inside buildings.
There are ten rodent signs that a rodent problem exits. They are 1) droppings (feces), 2) tracks, 3) gnawing damage, 4) burrows, 5) runways, 6) grease marks, 7) urine, 8) live or dead rodents, 9) rodent sounds, and 10) rodent odors.
The most commonly encountered of tree squirrels include the gray squirrel, the red squirrel and the flying squirrel. Tree squirrels generally inhabit wooded areas and build their nests in trees. As establish themselves in attics and garages to store food and find shelter as people move into these areas. They can be noisy and will bite if cornered. They may cause ectoparasite problems to occur in nesting areas, damage trees, gardens and ornamental plants.
Most squirrels has two litters of young each year (early spring and late summer). The number of young varies between 3 and 5 squirrels. Tree squirrels are most active in early morning and late afternoon. They feed on seeds, buds, nuts, bulbs, leaves, bark, insects, and fruit. Flying squirrels are active at night. Their presence is often unsuspected in a neighborhood until they move into buildings. It is the flying squirrel which causes the mysterious and startling “thump” late in the attic in the night on the attic floor which frightens homeowners.
Squirrels gain access to buildings from overhanging tree limbs. When screening, repelling and removing tree limbs will not solve a squirrel problem, live-trapping removal by a pest professional may be necessary. Squirrels in buildings may also be kill-trapped with ordinary rat-size snap traps. Trapping with live traps is the best method of control. Squirrels sometimes nest in double wall construction and other inaccessible areas in homes or buildings. Any dead carcasses are difficult to recover. This may also create a significant odor for several days until the carcasses in the walls dehydrate. During warmer months, species of flesh-flies may infest the rotting carcasses and emerge into a home or building. For this reason, it is best to make every effort to control a squirrel pest problem externally with live trapping and seal up any entry access holes in a building or home after the squirrels are gone.
The striped skunk is the size of a large domestic cat. The spotted skunk is half that size. The spotted skunk is a better climber than the striped skunk and more nervous and active. Skunks are active from early evening through most of the night. Their days are spent sleeping in their den. In warmer months, they may bed in vegetation along fences or waterways, hayfields, or pastures. Dens are below ground usually. They may also be located along stream banks, junked cars, lumber piles, hollow tree stumps, and beneath porches or crawl spaces in buildings. In cold months, skunks remain inactive in their dens for periods of days or weeks. They do not actually hibernate. They do rely on stored body fat to sustain them through the winter. Mating occurs in late winter. The young are born from mid-spring to mid- summer with a litter of 4 to 6 young. At 2 months old, the young leave their mother to establish their own dens by autumn .
Skunks prefer insects and are for the most part carnivores. They like crickets, grasshoppers, beetles, cutworms, and insect larvae. They will also eat mice, rats, shrew, moles, ground squirrels, and other small animals. They do good in keeping rodent population down.
Skunks will discharge an obnoxious odor when provoked. Two internal glands located at the base of their tail produce a thick, volatile, oily liquid that contains sulfur compounds. This fluid is released in a stream that disperses into a fine spray and can be directed accurately from 10 to somewhat inaccurately to 20 feet. This fluid is painful if it gets in a person’s or animal’s eyes and may cause temporary blindness for 15 minutes or so.
Many problems with skunks around homes can be prevented by a pest professional identifying areas around buildings where they may be gaining entry. There are various commercial deodorizing compounds and masking agents that effectively eliminate or mask skunk odor that are used by a professional. Tomato juice, vinegar, diluted household bleach and ammonia can be used, but are less effective and can cause color changes in materials. A veterinarian should be consulted for the most safest and most effective procedure to deodorize any pet that has been sprayed.
Raccoons live near streams, lakes, or marshes. They use hollow trees or logs, rock crevices and burrows for dens. They can invade garbage cans and tear up lawns. They can use chimneys, attics, and hollow areas beneath porches and outbuildings as dens.
Raccoons mate in January or February, have a 63-day gestation period and give a litter of 3 to 6 young. The raccoon family is very social and remain together for about a year. Adults vary in size from 12 to 25 pounds.Their diet consisits of insects, crayfish, mussels, fish, and frogs. During late summer and fall, berries, fruits, nuts and grains are also eaten. They are most active at night. Raccoons will often “roll back” sod in fine lawns in search for grubs and earthworms. The damage to a lawn can be extensive.
The best method for removing raccoons from around a home or building is via the use of live traps set up by a pest professional. Traps can be set around garbage cans, entrances to dens located in crawl spaces or basements, and at bases of trees which may serve as a connection route to a roof or chimney.
The Opossum is a unique animal because the female has an abdominal pouch for carrying her young. They have a repulsive, musk-like odor and are nuisances when they enter crawl spaces, garages, and similar places in residential areas. Adults are about the size of a large cat, long-haired, light, gray and with a scaly 12 inch tail.
Opossums produce a litter between 6 and 13 young once a year with a gestation period lasting 13 days. Their young are the size of a bumblebee at birth and partially developed. They continue to develop while nursing in the mother’s pouch for three months. They number of teats the mother has, (usually 13), limits the number of young that survive.
Opossums choose homesites in hollow logs, woodchuck burrows, under buildings, in garages, or sometimes squirrels nests in trees. They are omnivorous, eating everything available: fish, mammals, birds, insects, crustaceans, fruits, mushrooms, eggs, grass, and carrion. They will also damage lawns while eating grubs.
Live-catch traps used by a pest professional is an effective way to control and rid an opossum pest problem. Traps are sent in locations where the opossum frequents, or where it is causing damage. To prevent recurrence of the problem , food, burrows, or holes under a home or building should be removed or closed off.
Moles are not rodents and belong to a group of mammals known as Insectivora. They are more closely related to shrews. Eastern moles have pointed snouts, greatly enhanced, enlarged rounded front feet with stout claws, and a short, nearly naked tail. They are 5 – 8 inches long with velvety short hair that is gray to silvery gray. Their eyes and ears are small and concealed in their fur.
Moles are destructive pests in lawns, gardens, nurseries, golf courses, parks, and cemeteries. They produce mounds and ridges during their burrowing activities. They disfigure lawns and dislodge plants or injure plant roots.
Moles primarily feed on earthworms, beetle grubs, ants, and other arthropods and animals found in the soil. They are most active during the day and night throughout the year. Moles are most visible during the spring and fall on damp days or following rain showers when they push up more tunnels and mounds. During frozen ground in winter and dry ground in summer, moles use only the deeper burrows.
Mating season occurs in February and March. A litter of 3 to 5 young are then born later in the spring following a six-week gestation period. Young moles use their family’s burrowing system for up to six months before dispersing to establish their own burrow systems and territories nearby.
Two types of runways (tunnels) are produced by moles: subsurface runways and deep runways. Sub-surface runways are feeding tunnels just below the surface. They are commonly seen as the raised ridges running through lawn areas. Moles can extend these runways at a rate of 100 feet per day. Sub–surface runways may be used daily, revisited at regular intervals, or may be used only once for feeding and then abandoned. These runways connect with the deep runways which are located between 3 and 12 inches below the surface. Deep runways are main runways. They are used daily as the mole travels to and from the main sub-surface runways or nest. The soil excavated from these deep runways is deposited on the surface through short vertical tunnels in volcano-like mounds. Generally, one acre of land will support two to three moles at one time. Lands adjacent to large tracts of forested areas support more moles and may be subject to continual invasions by these animal pests. (Mole mounds should not be confused with gopher mounds which are horse-shoe shaped.)
Trapping is the most common, effective and reliable method to control mole activity used by a pest professional. This method is the most easiest and effective during the spring and fall when mole activity is at its peak. Control efforts should begin as quickly as possible to keep damage to a minimum once mole activity is detected. A pest professional will first identify and locate main runways and moles nests to effectively control and rid your property of these destructive animal pests.
Meadow voles also known as meadow mice are small, chunky rodents. Adults are 7 inches long with a short tail about 1 1/2 inches long. Mature voles are chestnut brown mixed with black on their back. Their underparts are dark gray and their feet are brown. They are often confused with moles and shrews. Moles are easily identified because they have greatly enlarged front feet and digging claws. Shrews have long, pointed snouts and their front teeth are needle pointed. Meadow voles have rounded blunt snouts and their front teeth are chisel shaped.
Several hundred mice per acre may be present in years when they are abundant. They are destructive to vegetation. The eat grasses and herbs. During the fall, winter, and early spring they may gnaw the bark of young trees, and ornamental plants causing damage or even death to the plant.
Voles produce 5 to 10 litters per year and are prolific small mammals. Gestation is 21 days. Females may mate again the day that the young are born. Young voles grow quickly and are sexually mature in a month or two. Voles can do damage to lawns when they live beneath the snow during the winter months.
Ordinary snap-back mouse traps are effective in control of voles. For a large infestation, specific baits are placed in traps and burrow openings by a pest professional. These baits can also be broadcasted in large areas such as golf courses, parks, etc. Voles can also be controlled by setting traps, placing glue boards, or live catch traps by a pest professional. Voles can enter buildings but do not reproduce indoors.