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Rodents: An Earth-Wise Guide

ROOF RAT
Credit: Rosemary Thomas

Description

Norway/Brown Rat: large robust bodies; small eyes; brownish-gray body with gray underside; tail shorter than body; burrows under foundations, floors, stacks of goods and rubbish; capable of climbing

Roof/Black Rat: sleek body; large eyes; grayish-black with light underside; tail longer than body; seldom burrows; nest is usually high

House Mouse: small and slender; light brown to gray; can squeeze through openings slightly larger than 1/2 “ across; 10 to 20 times more common than rat infestations

Signs of Infestation

Droppings

Tracks in moist earth or dust

Burrows in the ground

Gnaw marks

Greasy smudge marks

Musky smell

Sounds in walls or attic at night

Problems

Reservoirs of bubonic plague, endemic typhus fever, rat bite fever

Can contaminate food

Chewed wires which can cause fires

Gnawed pipes and water hoses

Damage to wood, mortar and cement

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Least Toxic Solutions

Prevention

  • Remove rodent shelter areas such as lumber piles, trash

  • Store food, including pet food and birdseed, in containers with tight fitting lids

  • Keep garbage in containers with tight-fitting lids

  • Hang bird feeders away from the house and on metal poles

  • Prune tree branches that touch or overhang the home

  • Do not leave pet food out overnight

  • Store materials that can be used for shelter 18” off the ground with space between the material and the wall

  • Store firewood away from the home

  • Repair plumbing leaks and other water storage areas

  • Cover or fill any openings rodents could enter with rat-resistant materials such as 1/4″ hardware cloth or steel wool

  • Place hardware cloth over vents in the attic

  • Close doors when not in use and cover all edges subject to gnawing with metal

Remediation

  • Trap pests with either wood-based snap traps or glueboards – they are as effective as rodenticides, but may take a little more time and effort if infestation is large; traps are the preferable option if the presence of dead rodent will cause odor or sanitation problem

  • Buy the proper size trap for your rodent problem (rat vs. mouse)

  • Place traps along travel routes where rodent signs are visible

  • Pre-bait traps; add bait to traps but do not set it until rodents are feeding well on the bait (rodents are shy of new items placed into their environment)

  • Reuse traps instead of disposing of them; rodents are attracted to traps that have had rodents visit them previously

  • Set traps perpendicular to the base of the wall with the trigger closest to the wall Change bait daily – fruit, peanut butter and nuts are good baits

  • Secure bait well to the trap

  • Do not use greasy/oily baits on glueboards When trapping outdoors, leave traps out only at night to avoid trapping non- target organisms

If You Must Use a Rodenticide…

  • Use bait only in bait stations to avoid children or non-target animals from eating bait

  • Remove baits once rodents are gone to avoid attracting insects (baits are made with grains)

  • Use ready-to-use formulas

Options:

  • Baits–combined attractant and rodenticide

  • Anticoagulants

DO NOT HANDLE DEAD RODENTS WITH YOUR BARE HANDS!

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Source:
http://www.austintexas.gov/sites/default/files/files/Watershed/growgreen/Rodents.pdf

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Content and copyright permission generously granted by:
Austin Grow Green: www.growgreen.org, who works in close association with:
Texas AgriLife Extension Service:  http://agrilifeextension.tamu.edu
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This post was written by Marjory

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