Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Mice & Rats : How Smart Are Mice?


Mouse Prevention and Rodent Pest Control in Seattle

Good sanitation is essential for effective long term control. Mice can enter any opening larger than 1/4 inch, making it virtually impossible to completely mouse proof a building.The control of mice can be widely varied, depending on the individual situation. It may range from physically altering the conditions allowing the infestation, such as covering holes, filling cracks, etc. to baiting or trapping.House mice live and thrive under a variety of conditions in and around homes and farms. House mice consume food meant for humans or pets. They contaminate food-preparation surfaces with their feces, which can contain the bacterium that causes food poisoning (salmonellosis). Their constant gnawing causes damage to structures and property.

Recognizing Mouse Infestations
Droppings, fresh gnawing and tracks indicate areas where mice are active. Mouse nests, made from fine shredded paper or other fibrous material, are often found in sheltered locations. House mice have a characteristic musky odor that identifies their presence. Mice are occasionally seen during daylight hours.

Mouse Control Tips: Information on Mice Feeding Habits

They have to consume about 10% to 15% of their body weight every 24 hours and require extremely small amounts of water.House mice are gray or brown rodents with relatively large ears and small eyes. An adult weighs about 1/2 ounce and is about 5 1/2 to 7 1/2 inches long, including the 3 to 4 inch tail.
Although house mice usually feed on cereal grains, they will eat many kinds of food. They eat often, nibbling bits of food here and there.Mice are nibblers. They do small amounts of damage to many food items in "home range", rather than doing extensive damage to any one item. While mice are nibblers and feed many times in many places, they have two main feeding periods, at dusk and just before dawn. Mice have keen senses of taste, hearing, smell and touch. They are excellent climbers and can run up any rough vertical surface. They will run horizontally along wire cables or ropes and can jump up 13 inches from the floor onto a flat surface. They can slip through a crack that a pencil will fit into (sightly larger than 1/4 inch in diameter).
In a single year, a female may have five to 10 litters of usually five or six young each. Young are born 19 to 21 days after mating, and they are mature in six to 10 weeks. The life span of a mouse is about nine to 12 months.

Pest Control Tips: Rat, Mice and Rodent Control Methods

Mice travel over their entire territory daily, investigating each change or new object that may be placed there.
Mice have poor vision, hence their activity patterns rely heavily on smell, taste, touch, and hearing.
Mice use the long sensitive whiskers near the nose and hairs on the body as tactile sensors. The whiskers and hairs enable the mouse to travel in the dark, adjacent to walls in burrows.
Mice also have an excellent sense of balance, enabling them to walk along telephone wires, ropes and similar thin objects.
Mice are excellent jumpers, capable of leaping at least 12 inches vertically.
Mice can jump against a flat vertical surface using it as a spring board to gain additional height.
They can run up almost any vertical surface; wood, brick, weathered sheet metal, cables, etc.
They can easily travel for some distance hanging upside down.
Although they are good swimmers, mice tend to take to water only if left with no other alternative.
Mice are basically nocturnal in nature.
House mice breed throughout the year and can become pregnant within 48 hours of producing a litter.
There are usually about 6 mice to a litter and females may produce as many as ten litters (about 50 young) per year.
It takes 18 to 21 days for gestation, and 35 days for a mouse to mature. Most mice live anywhere from 15 to 18 months.
They make their nests out of the same types of soft materials as rats, and as many as 3 females may use the same nest.
They commonly nest in insulation in attics, also in stoves and under refrigerators.
Mice do not travel far from their nest, about 12 to 20 feet.

Seattle Rat and Mouse Control Tips -- How to Get Rid of Mice, Rats and Other Rodents

1. Get rid of the reason rodents are being attracted. FOOD. The most common rodent attractant in urban locations is wild bird seed. Once a constant food source has been detected, rodents will leave pheromone trails for their family members to follow. This could result in a large populations being attracted to your home or business. An abundant supply of food will also speed up their reproductive cycle. Most people who feed wild birds don't realize they are probably feeding more rodents than birds. Pet food, grass seed and poorly stored human food are other attractants.
2. Eliminate the route rodents are taking to enter living and working space. Once inside a building, rodents will follow plumbing and wiring to access all levels and many rooms. Gaps around pipes should be blocked. Pay special attention to pipes under the kitchen sink, bathrooms, laundry room and hot water tank.
3. Remove the Rodents. Once you have stopped attracting them and blocked off their entry points, you can focus attention on eliminating the rodent population. You will have a hard time attracting rodents to bait on a trap or poison bait, if you have not eliminated their usual source of food.
Baiting techniques.
Don't bother trying to catch them in live traps. Click here for the reason.

Mice Diseases & Sanitation Factors


Mice droppings sometimes are confused with droppings from the larger species of roaches, such as the American roach.
Mice droppings are smooth with pointed ends, and are 1/8th to 1/4 inch long.
In six months, one pair of mice can eat about 4 pounds of food and during that period produce some 18,000 fecal droppings.
Deer mice are a primary vector of Hantaviral infections which cause hemorrhagic fevers.
Mice may infect food with their droppings transmitting such organisms as salmonella and the microscopic eggs of tapeworms.

Mice transmit disease in a number of ways including biting, infecting human food with their droppings or urine, indirectly via the dog or cat and bloodsucking insects.
The most common way mice transmit disease organisms is by contaminating food with their droppings and/or urine. The most threatening organism spread by mice is Salmonella, a cause of food poisoning, spread via droppings. Other transmittable organisms include tapeworms via droppings, rat-bite fever via bites, infectious jaundice/leptospirosis/Weil’s Disease via urine in food or water, a fungus disease (Favus) of the scalp either by direct contact or indirectly via cats, plague and murine typhus via fleas, Rickettsial pox via the mite Liponyssoides sanguineus (Hirst), lymphocytic choriomeningitis via droppings, and possibly poliomyelitis (polio). Another problem is house mouse mite dermatitis which is caused by these mites when they feed on humans.

Mice Sanitation. Mice can survive in very small areas with limited amounts of food and shelter. Consequently, no matter how good the sanitation, most buildings in which food is stored, handled or used will support house mice if not mouse-proofed. Although good sanitation will seldom eliminate mice, poor sanitation is sure to attract them and will permit them to thrive in greater numbers. Good sanitation will also reduce food and shelter for existing mice and in turn make baits and traps more effective. Pay particular attention to eliminating places where mice can find shelter. If they have few places to rest, hide or build nests and rear young, they cannot survive in large numbers.Mouse-Proof Construction. The most successful and permanent form of house mouse control is to "build them out" by eliminating all openings through which they can enter a structure. All places where food is stored, processed or used should be made mouse-proof. Dried grain and meat products should be stored in glass jars, metal canisters or other resealable airtight containers.
Seal any openings larger than 1/4 inch to exclude mice. Steel wool mixed with caulking compound makes a good plug. Patching material needs to be smooth on the surface to prevent mice from pulling out or chewing through the patching compound. Seal cracks and openings in building foundations and openings for water pipes, vents and utilities with metal or concrete. Doors, windows and screens should fit tightly. It may be necessary to cover the edges with metal to prevent gnawing. Plastic sheeting or screen, wood, rubber or other gnawable materials are unsuitable for plugging holes used by mice

Rodent Traps. Trapping is an effective control method. When only a few mice are present in a building, it is usually the preferred control method.
Trapping has several advantages:
(1) it does not rely on inherently hazardous poisons,
(2) it permits the user to make sure that the mouse has been killed
(3) it allows for disposal of the mouse carcasses, thereby avoiding dead mouse odors that may occur when poisoning is done within buildings.

The simple, inexpensive wood-based snap trap is effective and can be purchased in most hardware and grocery stores. Bait traps with peanut butter, chocolate candy, dried fruit or a small piece of bacon tied securely to the trigger. Set them so that the trigger is sensitive and will spring easily. Multiple-capture live traps, which can capture several mice once set, are also available in some hardware and feed stores. Set traps close to walls, behind objects, in dark corners and in places where evidence of mouse activity is seen. Place them so that mice will pass directly over the  (Rodenticides). Rodenticides are poisons that kill rodents. They can be purchased in hardware stores, feed stores, discount stores, garden centers and other places where pesticides are sold. Do not buy unlabeled rodent baits from street vendors or other uncertain sources. Do not purchase baits that have an incomplete label or one that appears to be “homemade.”

Building out” rodents and trapping are the most effective control methods.

Rodent baits should be used only to supplement these methods. If there is a repeated need to use baits, it is likely that sanitation and mouse-proofing should be improved. Remember that rodent baits are poisons. Make sure they are registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and always follow the label instructions exactly. If baits are used indoors, be sure they are labeled specifically for interior use.

The active ingredients in baits are used at very low levels, so bait shyness does not occur when using properly formulated baits. Most of these baits cause death only after they are eaten for a number of days, although some types can cause death following a single feeding. Make sure that fresh bait is available continuously until mice stop feeding. Depending on the number of mice, this may require up to three weeks.

Mice Removal & Control:Bait Selection and Placement. Baits are available in several forms.

Grain baits in a meal or pelleted form are available in small plastic, cellophane or paper packets. These sealed "place packs" keep bait fresh and make it easy to place the baits in burrows, walls or other locations. Mice gnaw into the packet to feed on the bait. Block style baits are also very effective for most situations. Proper placement of baits and the distance between placements is important. Place baits in several locations no farther than 10 feet apart and preferably closer. For effective control, baits or traps must be located where mice are living. Use of tamper-resistant bait stations provides a safeguard for people, pets and other animals. Place bait stations next to walls with the openings close to the wall or in other places where mice are active. When possible, secure the bait station to a fixed object to prevent it from being moved. Clearly label all bait stations "Caution—Mouse Bait" as a safety precaution.

Mice Removal & Control:Sound and Electronic Devices.

Although mice are easily frightened by strange or unfamiliar noises, they quickly become accustomed to regularly repeated sounds and are often found living in grain mills or factories and other noisy locations. Ultrasonic sounds, those above the range of human hearing have very limited use in rodent control because they are directional and do not penetrate behind objects. Also, they lose their intensity quickly with distance. There is little evidence that sound of any type will drive established mice or rats from buildings because they rapidly become accustomed to the sound.
Control by Cats and Dogs. Although cats, dogs and other predators may kill mice, they do not give effective control in most circumstances. In fact, rodents may live in very close association with dogs and cats. Mice and rats may obtain much of their diet from the pet's dish or from what pets spill.

Mice Removal & Control:Disposal of Dead Rodents



Always wear intact rubber or plastic gloves when removing dead rodents and when cleaning or disinfecting items contaminated by rodents. Put the dead rodent in a plastic bag; the bag should be placed in a second bag and tightly sealed. Dispose of rodents in trash containers with tightfitting lids. Traps can be disinfected by soaking them in a solution of three tablespoons of bleach per gallon of water or a commercial disinfectant containing phenol (such as LysolR). After handling rodents, resetting traps and cleaning contaminated objects, thoroughly wash gloved hands in a general household disinfectant or in soap and warm water. Then remove gloves and thoroughly wash your hands with soap and warm water
 

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