Although there are many rodent species worldwide, it turns out that only a handful of them are responsible for causing the majority of damage to humans. But what kinds of rats and mice can get into your house and cause harm? In this post, we’ll describe the signs left by rats and mice and explain how to eliminate them.
If you’ve ever had a rodent infestation in your home or business, it was undoubtedly caused by one of the furry pests highlighted in this article. Here’s the good news: Since infestations are nearly always caused by these well-studied species, a professional pest management service has plenty of experience dealing with them. Let’s cover the characteristics of each, so you’ll know how to identify them.
- House Mouse (Mus musculus)
- Norway Rat (Rattus norvegicus)
- Roof Rat (Rattus rattus)
House mouse (Mus musculus)
The house mouse is appropriately named. It’s one of the most common rodent species you’ll find in Tucson’s homes and commercial buildings. If you’ve seen mice in a pet store, then you already know what the typical house mouse looks like.
Mice have been living on and around humans for millennia. But even though they’re well-adapted to live in our homes, they’re easy to get rid of because they’re so predictable. An expert pest control team can quickly find and remove these small-but-dangerous rodents.
Even though they mostly eat grains and vegetable material, mice are dirty creatures that spread hantavirus diseases. They also have an annoying and expensive habit of chewing on non-food items.
All rodents, including mice and rats, have fast-growing front teeth that they instinctively sharpen by chewing on building materials, electrical wiring, and plastics. Mice rarely bite, but rats are an entirely different story, as we’ll describe below.
Identifying mice in your home
Mice are easy to identify – They’re curious, and they go out to forage for food at night and when the area is quiet. In color, they range from dark or light brown to gray or black.
A mouse is small, only a couple of inches long. Their droppings look like small rod-shaped pellets. Another sign of house mice is wood shavings or paper shreds from rodents gnawing on wood, cardboard, or food containers.
Why mice and rats come into your home
Here in Arizona and other warm climates, mice and rats don’t hibernate. During the chilly months, they look for warm places. Also, rain sometimes drives rodents to “relocate” into human homes if monsoon floods destroy their outside nests.
How they get inside
These tiny, agile creatures can squeeze through openings as small as a jelly bean. They enter homes through cracks in flooring and walls, siding, insulation, and even the gaps around pipes and wires.
Mice and rats are known to climb through drain pipes and chimneys in search of food. The best solution for evicting these pests is to hire an expert rodent control team.
Norway Rat (Rattus norvegicus)
Sometimes called brown rats or sewer rats, these animals are larger, dirtier cousins of mice. Norway Rats are the most common type of rat in large cities, especially in the US’s eastern region.
This species is well-adapted to living at the expense of humans. They can eat just about anything.
These rats are highly territorial. Unlike mice, when confronted, they may become aggressive instead of merely fleeing. They often bite while trying to escape.
When aggressive rodents live too close to humans, there’s a higher risk of rat-bite fever and other illnesses. That’s why rat bites are far more common than mouse bites and much more severe for health reasons.
Identifying a Norway Rat infestation
These rodents are typically from 8 to 10 inches in length. Their fur is thicker than mouse fur, and it’s usually a darker color. Norway Rats are known to have bad eyesight, yet their other senses are highly adapted for finding food and avoiding threats – such as their human hosts.
Another tell-tale sign is their dirtiness: Since they never bathe, these rodents are genuinely filthy. Look for greasy or dirty streaks and stains alongside holes and runways where they travel.
Roof Rats (Rattus rattus)
Here in AZ, Roof Rats are commonly found living in high, hidden spaces such as attics, ceilings, storage areas, or near trees, vegetation, and landscaping. Just like those other rodents profiled above, these critters cause the same type of damage by contaminating food containers, as well as gnawing on non-food materials.
AZ pest management and rodent control
Whether mice or rats cause an infestation, we can help. Our expert pest control teams can quickly find and eliminate any pest.