Rats, Mice, Rodents, Rodentia (scientific name), or whatever you want to call them. We can all agree that rodents are annoying. End of story. Even though we find them annoying, it’s important to understand their characteristics.
Let’s start with the basic senses such as sight, taste, smell, touch, sound and kinesthetic sense. Rodents are considered to be nearly blind and use their sense of touch for guidance when moving around. Since rodents are nearly blind, they like to use their limited eyesight to seek darker areas around a structure. This is mainly the reason why you’ll find them hiding in places such as inside holes, under cabinets, garages, attics, and behind large stationary objects.
A typical rodent can taste up to 250 parts per billion. In other words, they can pick up very strong tastes. The newborn rodents can taste their mother’s diet through her milk and favor those foods when they mature. One thing to keep in mind is that rodents are extremely intelligent. Because of that, rodents react negatively to foods that make them feel ill. It only needs to happen once for them to remember and they will basically avoid the food. If a rodent is deprived of a certain nutrient, rodents will learn which foods can fill that need and prefer eating those until the need is met.
It’s important to note that approximately 1% of a rat’s genes are involved in their sense of smell. They are able to produce and release pheromones to communicate information with other rodents. Since the smell is very important to rodents, they use their strong sense of smell to find food.
If you’ve ever seen a rodent, you will notice there are long whiskers (also known as vibrissae) located on their face. These whiskers are used for guidance as they move along walls and other objects. Since they rely on touch to move around, it is important to not leave baits and traps out in the open. It’s best to always place it along the wall or touching a wall. What’s even more unique is the sensory pads on their feet. If they detect something that is too hot or cold, they will avoid it. An example would be metal parts of a bait station or a metal trap.
Rodents will communicate with each other through ultrasonic frequencies (such as squeaks, clicks and whines). It is important to note that rodents aren’t great at pinpointing location if they hear a sound.
Since rodents have limited eyesight, they rely on their kinesthetic sense to move around. In other words, they display memorized muscle movement in which they essentially memorize their surroundings to move around.
Rodents like to come out at night and if you see rodents come out during the daytime, then it means there is a sign of a large infestation in the area. Commensal rodents (the common type of rodents in United States such as The Norway Rat, The Roof Rat, the house mice) are omnivorous and opportunistic foragers. They will eat a variety of food items (grains, meats, fish, fruits) and they take advantage of the food items they encounter. Rats will hoard enough food to last them WEEKS!
When rodents travel around, there is a specific pattern. The corners of an area are used for grooming, eating and nesting. The runways are used for following lines and pheromone trails.
As with most things in nature, rodents have a hierarchy where all rodents will develop. The more dominant rodents get to feed first and receive the best nesting areas. If abundant food and harborage exists, the less dominant rodents can also survive, but this is where they will more likely be seen during the day trying to find food.
Characteristics of mice:
Characteristics of rats:
Now that you understand more about rodents, let’s talk about how to get rid of them. One question we get asked all the time is “Why are there so many different kinds of rodenticides?” While it is true that rodenticides are just poison, rodents are like humans where we have different tastes. The rodenticide baits come in large blocks or small blocks, pellet size, hard and soft baits. Some rodents prefer gnawing on soft food, while some prefer hard items to gnaw on.
For hard block baits, sometimes the heat will get to the blocks and will cause them to melt. When the bait melts, they won’t be attractive to the rodents. Also sometimes it’s important to note when placing baits outside, the moisture will cause the bait to mold up. Since rodents are sensitive to smell, they won’t eat the bait if there is mold growing.
It’s important to keep in mind that when using rodenticides, they will have a hard time competing with other human food source. Which is why it’s important to cover up all the food so they won’t attract the rodents. This is one of the reason why rodents enjoy climbing into trash cans.
If you want to use glue boards in capturing rodents, it’s important to place them in active rodent pathways. They should never be placed in a corner of the room. Always place them in the middle of the wall.
When you go to an area and see rodents run by, it’s usually a good idea to place a trap, glue board, or bait in that area.
If using a bait station, keep in mind that rodents tend to go toward warm air currents or where food odor emerge. So it’s a great idea to put bait stations near exterior vents along the wall. A bait station Is recommended every 15 to 30 feet for rats and about 7 to 15 feet for mice. As always, always place bait stations along the wall and away from wall corners.