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06 Rodents

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Our next topic is going to be on rodents. Now, people have a lot of fears in this world. Spiders are one of the most feared animals that people have but rodents are very close second to being one of the most feared animals that people can run across inside their home or business. Rodents are startling to a lot of people. They appear in places we don't think they can appear. They can provide damage that we're not accustomed to seeing with other pests. And they can spread diseases as we spoke about earlier. So rodents are a very unique animal that we're asked to deal with. Unique in that they have some abilities that give them almost super powers, it seems. They can appear in places by gnawing and chewing their way into areas. Their body, as large as it might be, can squeeze and compress into small tight places, which gives them the ability to enter into structures and appear in very unlikely areas. This ingrained behavioral trait that they have of chewing and gnawing all the time, is what allows them to create some damage. Rodents have some significant problems, they destroy food supplies, they destroy an enormous amount of food supply through their contamination of product by their urine and their fecal matter. But also through leaving their hair, their fur around, and then also actually just consuming, they like to eat. They can damage structures through their gnawing. And these animals can chew or gnaw their way through many, many substances, including glass, if they can get their teeth on it. It would be commonly said that if they can get their teeth on it, they can get their body through it. So regardless of how small an opening might be, if a rodent wants to go through that opening, he can enlarge it to the point where it can slip through, or it can you know, squeeze his body through without enlarging it in some cases. So the amount of space that a rat needs, for example, might be only something like a half of an inch. If a rodent can have a space of a half of an inch, they can get their body through that opening. They can enlarge it with their teeth like we said, a mouse, something the size of a pen, a writing pen, if it's got that small of an opening, they can get their teeth on it and they can chew their way into that structure. So, that constant gnawing gives this damage to property that we are concerned about. That gnawing also, because it's an ingrained kind of habit to the animal, that gnawing also can create problems with things like fires. The rodents kind of originated on this Earth in some of the grassy plains of Old Asia. And their ingrained thought is to eat grass and seeds, that would be their preferred food source. In that rat's brain an electrical wire kind of resembles a blade of grass, or a piece of grass, so their natural instinct is to eat, to chew on that grass or that piece of wire. By doing so they might create an electrical short, start a fire, and as I said earlier, a large portion of fires of unknown origin can probably be contributed to rodents. Now, aside from the damage they do, rodents certainly also spread disease. They spread disease through their, just their presence. Their body can carry contaminants on the outside because they travel through sewers, they travel in garbage, they travel in places that are unsanitary, not clean, and pick up bacteria, viral compounds and so forth on the outside of their body. They like to walk with one side of their body touching things, it just makes them feel secure. So when they do that, anything that's on the outside of the body is transferred to the surface. They also spread disease through their urine, their fecal matter, their droppings. A large portion of the bacteria is actually contained inside those droppings. As long as they're whole and solid, it is low risk of transmission of disease. But when those droppings start to dry out, which really starts to occur in just a few minutes after the dropping is created, or the fecal pellet is created, once it dries out, it starts to crumble and turn into dust and when the aerosolized fecal pellet gets into the air, we breathe it in, that's when disease transmission can occur. So the disease potential is there, not only through those things, but also through bites, some people have reported, there's many cases of actually being bitten by rats. The saliva in their mouth can also contain the bacteria and transmit or transfer them into their victim. So they can spread disease and they spread other organisms like parasites. In the 1700s when the Bubonic Plague ravaged Europe it was actually spread, not by the rat, the rat was just there, the rat was the host that carried the fleas that were carrying the disease. So a rodent infestation can cause other pest problems that can also spread diseases. So the rodent has really, really can be credited with changing a lot of the world, because of those disease potentials and the fact that it carries other animals like fleas and mites around with it. Now, what we are most concerned about with rodents are a small group of rodents that we call Commensal Rodents. The commensal rodents are ones that live with us. These are the ones that we interact with most often. The word "Commensal" literally means "sharing one's table", or "living in association with man". So these are animals that will feel very much at home and very comfortable living in the same places that we do. Now, rats and mice, they will live together, they will live in the same area, we can have Roof Rat, Norway Rat and House Mouse, which are three primary Commensal rodents. We can have all three of them living in the same place, but the Norway Rat, given time, is going to take over because he is the biggest guy out there. Now, mentioning the three Commensal rodents, one of the common misconceptions, or one of the common myths that we hear around the world, is people will often say "well you know the mouse, that's just a baby rat, it's gonna grow up to be a big rat". They're two completely different animals. The mouse is the mouse, the rat is the rat. They don't grow up to become one or the other. They both have different characteristics, different habits, different biologies, and the control measures for each are completely different. So what we do for a Norway rat is gonna be very different from what we do for a Roof Rat, which is gonna be different from what we do for a House mouse. So those three Commensals are our primary concerns. They will all live together, but given time, the Norway Rat is going to take over. Now what is the difference between the Norway Rat and a Roof Rat? That's our two biggest rats that we are working with. If you look at this diagram, you see on the top is the Roof Rat, on the bottom is the Norway Rat. And then off to the side is the House Mouse. The Roof Rat is typically described as having a tail that is longer than the body, whereas the Norway Rat has a tail that is shorter than the body. The Roof Rat is pointed, its nose is pointed, its body is lean and long. Whereas the Norway Rat is a big, thick animal with a blunt kind of nose, and then the short tail. The eyes are different in both, the eyes of a Roof Rat are large. The eyes of the Norway Rat are small. The ears of the Norway Rat are small. The ears of the Roof Rat are large, in comparison. So visually we can tell the difference very, very quick, when seeing the actual animal. We don't often get to see though the actual animal. Most of the time, we're making our diagnosis of which rodent it is off of the droppings. The droppings are present, the animals produce a tremendous amount of urine and droppings both, so we're looking for those things and the droppings, the description of those will tell us whether it came from a Roof Rat or a Norway Rat. Now who cares? There's one question I get often. Who cares if it's a Roof Rat or a Norway Rat? Well we should, as pest management professionals, because our service approach is gonna be different for both of them, because they live in different places. Roof Rats, as the name might imply, live high in structures, in the roofs, the attics, in trees outdoors. The Norway Rat lives low in the structure, underground even, in burrows, so we must know which one we're dealing with in order to control them properly. Often all we get to see is the droppings. I'll show you some pictures of the droppings in just a moment. But the Norway Rat droppings look like the rat, they're large and they're blunt or rounded on the ends. The Roof Rat droppings, again, look like the Roof Rat. They're small, slender and pointed on the ends. So that's the best way to tell the difference and remember the difference between the Norway Rat and the Roof Rat. The droppings are blunt, the nose of the Roof Rat is blunt. The droppings on the, excuse me, the Norway Rat. The Norway Rat is blunt-faced, the droppings are blunt, rounded. The Roof Rat, pointed nose, pointed droppings. So that's a very easy way to remember which is which. Now you see the mouse over on the side, it can be compared to a young rat, but again there are some very unique differences. The head of the mouse is very small, whereas the head of the rat is much larger. The feet of the rat are large compared to the feet of a mouse which is very, very small. It's easy to confuse the two, but if you look at the feet, look at the head size, there's a definitive difference between them. Mice and rats will live in the same place, but as we said, the Norway Rat eventually is going to take over. So let's look at that Norway Rat, because he's one of the ones that we're gonna fight in most of the world. The Norway Rat is also called the sewer rat, or water rat or a house rat. Very large, bulky animal, can be somewhere, just the body, the head and the body, can be somewhere between 17 to 24 cm in length, and can weigh up to half a kilogram. So this is a large animal, this is a big robust animal. You can see the nose of this animal is not sharp and pointed. The picture kind of, might give you the impression of being sharp and pointed but when compared to the Roof Rat, you'll see that it is not. So this animal is a big, big healthy rodent. The tail is shorter than the head and the body. The eyes and the ears are very small. The nose is blunt, the body is big, heavy. Thick fur-looking. As we said, the droppings are blunt. They're kind of rounded off as you can see here. They eat as much as about 28 gr. or about an ounce of food every day. They're very opportunistic eaters, they're going to feed when they can and they will feed on as much as 28 gr. or so of food a day. They're also dependent on moisture. They're going to drink a lot of water. The rat drinks free water very easily. He's going to consume approximately 30 ml of water a day. Now because he's taking in so much moisture, he's also creating a lot of urine. So it's almost half, a little over half of the water he takes in, he's going to excrete through urine. So an average of about 16 ccs of urine a day, and depending on the diet as much as 180 droppings can come out of this animal in a day's period. So, as I said, finding the droppings, those fecal pellets, is often what we discover the most and what we have to make our diagnosis based on, is the evidence from the droppings, not the actual sighting of the animal. We do get to see them sometimes, but it's more common to make the diagnosis based on the droppings and the urine content as opposed to the actual animal sighting itself. Now, the Norway Rat prefers to live underground. It builds its nest in a burrow system under the soil, and they like to be hidden during the day, they will come out during the day time but they would really prefer to be hidden. They're very omnivorous, they'll eat almost anything but they have a preference for meat, for high protein types of food product. They can reproduce, they become sexually mature and can start reproduction at about 2 months of age. And these animals can live for about a year. Now, they will have over that course of their lifetime of a year or so they will have somewhere around or between 4 to 7 litters of pups as they're called, and in each one of these litters, there can be up to a dozen, 12 or so baby rats or pups can come out of these, out of these litters. So the reproductive potential is pretty great. Now, they live about a year in the wild. Inside cities, inside urban areas, their life span is cut down a little bit, because of predators, because of human intervention and so forth. But out on the wild, they're going to live about a year. They're great swimmers, so entering a structure through the sewer lines is not a problem for them. They can swim very, very well and they can swim pretty good distances. They're also great climbers. Any irregularity in the surface and they can climb right up a wall without a problem. And as we've already said, they do carry a lot of diseases. Now if we look at and compare that to the Roof Rat that we see here, also called the black rat or the ship rat, or maybe the gray-belly rat or Alexandrine rat. So, a lot of names for this animal. But it is the Roof Rat, it's a little bit smaller, about 20 cm in length, and weighs about half as much as the Norway Rat. So somewhere up to about 220 gr or so would be the maximum weight of this animal as an average. Again, an excellent climbing rat, it's got a long tail that it uses for balance and to help it access high reaches and high areas. They're very comfortable at those high places, almost like acrobats, they can walk on very thin areas, and travel around inside the tops of buildings, travel from trees to the tops of buildings. Not really much of a problem for these guys. The tail is longer than the body. The eyes and the ears are large. The nose is pointed, its body is pretty thin however. Then just like its face, its droppings are pointed. Again, that's how I keep in my mind the two rodents separate and remembering which is which. Nose of the Roof Rat pointed, droppings pointed. Nose of the Norway Rat blunt and rounded, droppings blunt and rounded. It eats about the same amount of food every day as the Norway Rat, about 28 gr or so of food every day. But its urine intake is going to be a little bit more, it's going to take in somewhere between 30 to 60 ml of water a day. And again, it's an opportunistic feeder and drinker. If there's free water he's going to take advantage of it. If there's free food, they're going to take advantage of it. Produces about the same amount of droppings and urine a day. So you can see by the amount of food they take in versus the amount of fecal matter and urine, they must eat all the time to maintain their strength and their metabolism. So they're very opportunistic, they're going to eat and drink as often as possible to maintain that body energy. Now the Roof Rat is typically brown or black in color. It is omnivorous again, but this thing likes, really it loves grain, fruit, nuts, vegetables, anything like that is very, very atractive to the Roof Rat. So for trying to entice the rodent into a trap, we need to know what type of bait or lure we're going to put on there. If we're dealing with the Roof Rat, grains, vegetables, nuts, these things are more attractive to them, so Roof Rats, we wanna use those types of things in traps. Norway Rats, we wanna use protein types of materials. Now the reproductive capability of the Roof Rat is going to be a little bit less than the reproductive capabilities of the Norway Rat. The Roof Rat is going to, is not going to be mature enough to start reproduction until they're somewhere between 2 and 5 months old. Compared to the Norway Rat, which at 2 months can start reproduction. They'll produce less litters a year, only 4 to 6 litters a year and there'll be less offspring inside each of those litters. So, even though they are slightly less in the reproductive side than the Norway Rat, given time they can still become a major infestation. And part of the reason for that is because of where they live. We don't encounter them as early because they live high in the buildings. The Norway Rat, because it's down on the floor, we tend to see it and discover it faster, in many cases indoors. The Roof Rat is very, very agile, like I said it's almost a bit of an acrobat. It can walk on thin surfaces, small little ledges in the roofs and rafters of buildings, it uses that tail, that long tail, it uses it to help it keep its balance. So it creates the ability for it to move around very easily, and get into areas that we, that makes it difficult for us to control and find sometimes. And like the Norway Rat it can also carry diseases. Now, if we look at the mouse by comparison, this is the smallest of the three Commensal Rodents. Only about 9 cm in length, and it weighs maybe up to 28 grams. So it's a very small animal, very compact. Its droppings are very small, up to about 6 mm in length and pointed. As I said when we were talking about cockroaches, the droppings of the mouse and the droppings of the American cockroach are very similar in size and in shape. You actually have to feel them, touch them with your hand to tell the difference in some cases. But the Roof, excuse me, the House mouse creates a lot of droppings and it creates a lot of, not as much urine but creates a lot of droppings based on its body size by comparison. The tail is about 3 or 4 inches long, it is longer than the body is. It's got long ears and a small body, small eyes, pointed nose. It's a very, very tiny animal of course. It only consumes about 3 grams of food a day. And really it doesn't drink that much water, it might take in of free water, it might take in maybe a milliliter. But most of its water requirements, it actually gets from its food, from its diet. So we do not find mice walking up and drinking from free water that's standing out there. They're going to take most of their moisture from the food that they eat. So they love that grain, fruit, nuts, those sorts of things that have good moisture contents, because they need that moisture inside their body. They produce very little urine, about 1 and a half ccs a day. But being a small little animal, it might produce as high as 50 droppings in a day which really is a lot when you consider how small this animal really is. Light brown, kind of gray in color, so it's very easy to see. Great climbers, but their territory is pretty small. Typically, the House Mouse is going to stay somewhere in that 3 to 10 meters from where they live at. So when we discover a House Mouse problem, their nest is going to be very close to where the damage was seen, or the droppings were seen. Compared to the rat, the Norway Rat or the Roof Rat can be traveling as much as 100 meters to that area to feed. So the range of the House Mouse is very, very small, it's very limited, within 3 to 10 meters of where the damage is actually seen. It can start breeding very, very young, 2 months old, they are sexually mature and able to reproduce. The female will create a litter about every month in a half to 2 months. She will create a litter, and there will be somewhere around 4 to 7 pups inside each of those litters. Again they live about a year in the wild. In these urban areas slightly shorter. They can get through any opening that they can get their nose in. Anything as big as 6 mm, 1/4 of an inch, the size of a ballpoint pen, if they can get their nose into that, they can pull their body through it or they can enlarge it to get their body through it. This animal is a nibbler, it eats constantly through the day. It may seat and eat as many as 20 times in the day. It's going to nibble and it's going to hoard. It's going to nibble on food, hold it in its mouth and take that food back into the nest area where it's living at to make sure that it always has food available. So it's an opportunistic feeder, but it doesn't sit there and eat and feed on material when it finds it. It's going to gather it, take it back home, and store it up. So often when we find the nest of a mouse we will find food product, grass, seed, dry fruit, things like that, inside the nest as well, which can over time create other problems for us, where we have stored product insects, some of the beetles and so forth, that will get into that grass or that grain and seed, and cause other problems for our clients. The presence of rodents can actually create a number of other pest situations, and as we'll discuss when we talk about control, you often have to control three different things when you're doing a rodent job. When you're doing rodent control you have to certainly control the rodent but you may also have to then produce fly control, because when some of those rodents die, the flies are gonna come in. And you may also have to do flea control, because when those rodents die, the fleas that are living on them are gonna look for someone else to live on. So the rodent presence creates the potential for a lot of other problems. We have to keep that in mind as we're doing our service for rodents. Rodent control is one of those things that is tricky. It requires a lot of time, a lot of knowledge, a lot of observation. We have to do a very good, thorough investigation, inspection in the area, to determine exactly what is the best course for controlling the rodents. There's also a lot of issues with rodent control that we have to be mindful of. We cannot use poison in many places. If there's food present, we can't use rodenticides or poisons. Traps in some areas are illegal, some countries have outlawed certain types of traps. So we have to be very mindful of what we can legally do, and then match that to the biology and habits of the rodents. And as you're doing your training here with us, we will discuss in more detail how we incorporate those biologies and habits into our control procedures for rodents. So as with the other topics we'll pause here, I want you to write down any questions that you may have about the rodents and we will make sure that we answer those questions for you when you're here with us in Atlanta.

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Duration: 26 minutes and 58 seconds
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Language: English
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Posted by: rbanderas on Dec 20, 2016

06 Rodents

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