About 40% of all mammal species are rodents, making them the largest order of mammals. These include rats, mice, hamsters, squirrels, porcupines, and their relatives.
Of these, only a handful of rats and mice are a nuisance to people, and we’ll be discussing the ones that may find themselves in our homes.
These rats are called pack rats because of their characteristic accumulation of food and various debris, which they keep stocked in their dens (or near their den area). Such collections may include edible plants, small pebbles, sticks, feces, insect and vertebrate remains, shiny metal objects, and other small items taken from humans.
Also known as woodrats, they have large eyes, protruding ears that are almost bald, and white-colored feet. They have long, thick and soft fur that can range in color from gray to reddish brown (and white to rust-colored on their underparts). Some populations of desert woodratsare black in color. Often confused with Norway rats, they have tails that are covered in fur.
They’re nocturnal and generally solitary. Bushy-tailed woodrats are vegetarians and prefer green vegetation such as leaves, needles and shoots, while Mexican woodrats eat fruits, seeds, nuts, and mushrooms. Some species also eat animal matter and small insects.
If they’re inside your home, they can damage electrical wiring, wall insulation, and pipes. They make off with small objects such as jewelry (remember, they like shiny metal objects), and they bring these items to their dens, which are lined with urine and feces. They’ve also been known to rip out padding from cushions and pillows to use as lining in their nests.
Pack rats carry diseases including the plague, and their dens and droppings are also a health hazard.
Also known as black rats, roof rats have black or dark brown colored fur with a lighter underside. They have long, hairless tails that measure longer than its entire body. They’re called roof rats because of their tendency to nest in the upper levels of the home such as attics, and they’re excellent climbers. Out in nature, they tend to nest in trees, and may find themselves in your home by walking along tree limbs that connect to your house.
They’re omnivores and have a wide range of food they can eat from seeds, fruits, fungi to a variety of invertebrates and vertebrates. They’ll also eat any food provided for cats and dogs, and food provided for some farm animals such as cows and chickens. They’re known to keep food in small caches to be consumed at a later time.
They carry and spread diseases such as leptospirosis and typhus, and their feces and urine also pose a health hazard. Roof rats are skittish and will avoid anything new introduced in the area, so it may be a while before they venture out to a trap or bait you’ve set up.
If you find either rodent in your house, get in touch with a pest control exterminator to have them removed.
The term “rat” is commonly used to refer to any rodent when, in fact, rodents are a superfamily that includes many different relatives. Inside this, there are rats and mice, known as the Muroidea family. These creatures share many characteristics but also many differences in their physical appearance and behavior.
Those of the Rattus genus, the most well known being the roof rat and the Norway rat, are considered direct relatives and “true rats”; whereas the pack rat, is not actually a rat! Arizona is home to many of these rodents and, as they have become a plague, you may want to check out how to identify them.
The Rattus rattus Linnaeus, commonly known as “Roof rat” is the smallest of them all. The complexion of this animal is tiny, though it has a long tail. As they come from rain forests of Southeast Asia, they are good for climbing different surfaces, like wires. They do not like the cold, so Arizona is a nice warm place for them to live. If you find rat excrement and noises in the roof, your house may be infested with these rodents. Roof rats dig through wood, insulation, and pipes; dense vegetation also attracts them. As they can swim, roof rats sometimes use sewage lines to move to other places. They are usually found in desert city areas in Arizona like Phoenix, Yuma and Tucson.
Norway rats, close relatives of the roof rats and also known as “old world rats” or “brown rats” are less common than roof rats, but still a threat. They differ in color, as the Norway rat is brown or reddish, and the roof rat is black. While roof rats prefer living in high places, such as roofs, attics, and trees, their Norway relatives would rather stay in the ground; they build their dens alongside rivers and streams, underneath buildings or in garbage dumps. They are also a common pest in farms, as they settle in barns, kennels, and silos.
Pack rats, on the other hand, are not considered true rats as they belong to the Neotoma genus, they are a different species. There are over 20 species of pack rats, from the Arctic to Central America. The species found in Arizona is the White Throat Wood Rat, also known as “woodrat” and “new world rat”. They usually build dens with vegetation and wood, and they hoard bits and pieces as protection, such as leaves, chewed plastic and paper, and any object they can find.
Certainly, it is important to identify these plagues in order to keep them at bay. Originally from Europe and Southeast Asia, rats were introduced in the USA by trading ships in the 17th century, and they rapidly spread across the country. Roof rats, Norway rats, and Pack rats prefer the hot and sunny Arizona as their living space. Make sure you take all the sanitary measures to keep these rodents out of your property.
Rodents: How They Invade and Attack
What would you do if you saw a rat crawling around the kitchen of your favorite restaurant? Disgusted, right?
What you probably don’t know is that many houses (especially older ones) are home to rodents without their owner even knowing. Whether these pests are hiding in your basement, attic, pantry, or even inside of your walls, the first step to solving your rodent problem is by knowing how these creatures get in, and the damage that you’ll see if they are living in your residence.
One of the downsides of buying an older house is all the cracks and holes that are found along the foundation of the building and the small gaps in the windows and ceilings. Although they may look small, pests like mice are prone to get in. Often, rodents enter during the fall or winter time when food is becoming more scarce in their natural environments and the temperature is plummeting. Once they enter, they proliferate exponentially to host a huge population in just a matter of weeks.
The best way to prevent this unwanted invasion is by keeping track of all the openings in your house and filling cracks and gaps with metal or concrete that will block these rodents from entering in the first place. In the meanwhile, store all your food in airtight containers so that they don’t attract these creatures. A few simple steps can stop many problems before they even start.
Once a rodent gets into your home, the damage that it can cause can be enormous. The first thing that you would probably notice would be the mouse droppings, little black pieces that look almost like raisins. If you do find any, get some gloves and antiseptic spray to dispose of them and call pest control right away. Odd noises is another clue that rats are scurrying around in the walls and floorboards. However, the worst part of a rodent is it’s teeth. Rodents will gnaw on almost anything. Apart from having strange scratches and nicks all over your household belongings, rats can also chew on electric wires to cause a fire or other hazardous materials.
It’s really important to know the signs of a rodent invasion before your whole house becomes a mess of droppings and chewed belongings. Most of the time, mousetraps and rat poison aren’t enough. Don’t delay to call rodent experts like us to take care of these critters before they infest your house.