The cold weather is bearing down on Michigan. And with the change in the temperatures comes the change in the pests we have to put up with in and around the home... rodents are going to try to make their way into nice, warm homes all over Michigan (and all the other cold states).
I HATE rats and mice.They are one of the very few downsides to my inspection work (and to the life of any homeowner who has to deal with them). But they can be evicted from the house, and with the application of a little knowledge, might not even pay a visit.
Rats are a typical problem in many cities, and the Metro Detroit area is no exception. Yuck. Even worse, they seem perfectly designed to thrive in a city.
The two kinds we have here in Michigan are the Roof Rat (also known as the brown rat), and the more famous Norway Rat (or brown rat). Both kinds of rats have bodies which helps them blend in with the city surroundings, and an incredible ability to squeeze through small cracks. In fact, they only need a half-inch crack in a wall or other type of partition.
I enjoy watching the survivalist shows on television, where some expert gets dropped in the middle of some harsh climate with a TV crew and shows how to get out alive. But these guys have nothing on the ultimate survivalist -- the rat.
Bear knows how to survive But this rat is the real survival expert
They can (and will) eat just about anything... trash, pet food, small insects, trash, and even droppings from other animals. Yuck.
And they are extremely mobile, can climb about anything, and can go anywhere, can swim, can swim underwater, and reproduce at disgusting rates.
Rats and Health
Rats are also major disease-carriers. While the Bubonic Plague, which killed about 1/3 of the population of Europe, they can carry or transmit many diseases like typhus, spirochetal jaundice, tularemia, trichinosis, leishmaniasis, leptospirosis -- and rabies. They have also been linked to the spread of pathogens that result in livestock diseases such as swine fever and foot-and-mouth disease. Yuck.
They can be aggressive, biting up to 15,000 people a year in the United States. And their bites hurt. Their teeth and powerful jaw muscles allow them to chew through almost anything -- even concrete block and lead pipe have been chomped on. Rats have jaw muscles that exert a force almost as powerful as a Great White Shark.
A rat will bite any enemy (real or perceived), and gets particularly nasty if it is cornered or the nest is threatened.
Rats can contaminate food sources with their urine and feces, another way rats are capable of spreading disease.
Roof rats are slightly smaller than Norway rats. They are agile climbers and usually live and nest above ground, most often found in enclosed or elevated spaces in attics, walls, false ceilings, and cabinets.
While roof rats eat a wide variety of foods, they prefer natural things like plants, fruits, nuts, berries, slugs, and snails. Residential areas with mature landscaping provide good habitat, as does the vegetation around riverbanks and streams. Roof rats prefer to nest in locations off the ground and rarely dig burrows for living quarters if off-the-ground sites exist. They may live in the landscaping of one residence and feed at another.
If roof rats are living in the attic of a residence, they can cause considerable damage with their gnawing and nest-building activities.
You may know them as sewer rats. They are the most common rat around the Metro Detroit area.
Unlike roof rats, they like to burrown along building foundations, beneath rubbish or woodpiles, and in moist areas in and around gardens and fields.When Norway rats take residence in a house, they usually remain in the basement or ground floor.
They may undermine building foundations and slabs with their burrowing activities. They may also gnaw on all types of materials, including metals such as copper and lead as well as plastic and wood. rThey also damage garden crops and ornamental plants.
Mice are smaller in size than rats (they are tiny and typically weigh less than an ounce), but are just as much a nuisance for Michigan residents. Their small size allows them to squeeze in and out of small cracks and crevices.
Once inside your home or office, they seek out any food source possible.But they aren't content to eat just one item... instead they will chew through the packages of many different types of food, all while leaving a trail of feces throughout the cabinets and pantry. This leaves homeowners with a lot of polluted food.
The House Dangers Of Mice And Rats
Both mice and rats dig, chew, and reproduce rapidly. That means they can chew through electrical wires, floorboards, walls, and any other surface they need to get through. Unfortunately, their teeth are perfect for destroying almost any type of surface... and if food or safety is on the other side, they'll chew away.
Trapping And Poison
Unless you know the Pied Piper, you should call a reputable pest or animal control company to take care of any rat or mouse problems. While you can set traps for very small problems, it is best to treat these guests to some shock-and-awe, and get rid of the problem quickly. Plus, you don't want to deal with bites or come into contact with the diseases that spread through their waste or on their bodies.
Professionals will most likely trap the rodents instead of utilizing poisons. Poison may kill a rat, but it that rodent may choose to die in an inconvenient spot, providing a disgusting stench for weeks that can't be eliminated. Yuck. That means dead rats or mice can be left behind in your basement, attic and walls if poisoned instead of trapped. Double yuck.
Get Rid Of The Sources
It isn't enough to get rid of the rodents... the entryways in the home must be discovered and made inaccessible. Some companies patch rodent entryways with steel. Trash or landscaping that provided food and cover must be removed.
Getting rid of a current infestation is only part of the battle. Preventing future rats and mice from nesting in the home is just as important.