Rodents: What You May Not Want to Know, but Should (Part 6 of 6)

MYTH:  Some rodenticides cause rodents to go find water to drink.

FACT:   I know of no current product that causes this reaction after it is eaten.  This myth probably arose to help reassure customers that rodents would not be dying in their house or business.  Rats must already have a source of water in order to survive in an area.  Mice need very little to no water to drink because they get their moisture from their food.

Kaukeinen, Dale E.  “(More) Myths about Rodents.” Pest Management Professional May 2008: Vol. 76 No. 5.  Print.

[The following information is taken in part from Truman’s Scientific Guide to Pest Management Operations, Sixth Edition]

 The Roof Rat

Although there are specific differences in behavior between the roof and Norway rat, many of the general behavior patters of rats relevant to the pest management professional are similar.  Important differences are discussed here and in the control section.

In their natural environment, the roof rat consumes a wide variety of vegetative foods such as berries, nuts, seeds, and fruits.  They also consume insects, slugs, and snails.  But like the Norway rat, the roof rat is an opportunist and will eat almost anything that is nutritional and available.  The roof rat tends to eat small amounts of food in several different places during foraging activity.  This has important implications for roof rat baiting strategies.

As was the case with the Norway rat, the home range of the roof rat varies according to the location and distribution of resources in its area and other factors.  Within average conditions, the roof rat ranges from 50 to 100 feet of is next to explore and gather resources.  However, this rat is also known to travel considerable distances ranging up to 300 feet on a daily basis.  In suburban neighborhoods roof rats may live in the trees or bushes of one residence but travel to feed at another residence several houses away, using various overhead utility lines or fences as their highways between their nest and “restaurants.”

The roof rat, by nature is somewhat of a skittish animal and very sensitive to changes in its environment.  Occasionally, when nests are disturbed during yard cleaning, flushed roof rats abandon the particular area.  It also prefers to feed under cover, or will carry exposed foods back to the nest or to nearby protected areas.

Because the roof rat gravitates towards cover and is less dependent on human food than the Norway rat, roof rats tend to become especially troublesome in suburban yards and neighborhoods that contain combinations of lush landscaping, well-established dense tree cover, fruit trees, outdoor dog pens, and/or bird feeders.

The roof rat is appropriately named because by nature it is a climber and commonly lives above the ground in “roof” or aerial areas around structures.  This behavior also enables this rat to remain undetected for prolonged periods.

In tropical area of the United States, nests are often constructed in the corns of palm trees—especially trees where the old fronds have not been removed for some time.  Roof rats will also occasionally construct globular leafy nests in much the same way tree squirrels do.  Nests are located in clinging vines, on the sides of buildings and fences, or inside buildings in attic areas.  Roof rats enter buildings from the roof or by using various utility lines, much in the same manner as do the tree squirrels.  In fact, they can often be seen at night running up and down trees or along utility lines and fences. However, roof rats don’t restrict themselves to aerial areas alone.  As local populations of roof rats grow, they will expand their nesting areas to include underground burrows within residential and industrial landscaped areas, ground floor areas inside buildings, and under piles of rubbish.  In some cities, such as Phoenix, Arizona, the roof rat has been found inhabiting sewers.

Bennett, Gary W., Owens, John M., Corrigan, Robert M. Truman’s Scientific Guide to Pest Management Operations, Sixth ed. Cleveland:  Advanstar Communications, Inc. 2005.  Print.

This was our final segment on rodents.  We hope you’ve learned something about rats and mice that will help to alleviate any problems you might encounter.  If this doesn’t help, please be sure to give us a call.

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