Yucky Things: Rats and Mice

By
Home Inspector with Diadem Property Inspections - Serving Southeast Michigan

The cold weather is bearing down on Michigan. And with the change in the temperatures comes the change in the pests we have to put up with in and around the home... rodents are going to try to make their way into nice, warm homes all over Michigan (and all the other cold states).

I HATE rats and mice.They are one of the very few downsides to my inspection work (and to the life of any homeowner who has to deal with them). But they can be evicted from the house, and with the application of a little knowledge, might not even pay a visit.

 

Rats

Rats are a typical problem in many cities, and the Metro Detroit area is no exception. Yuck. Even worse, they seem perfectly designed to thrive in a city.

The two kinds we have here in Michigan are the Roof Rat (also known as the brown rat), and the more famous Norway Rat (or brown rat). Both kinds of rats have bodies which helps them blend in with the city surroundings, and an incredible ability to squeeze through small cracks. In fact, they only need a half-inch crack in a wall or other type of partition.

I enjoy watching the survivalist shows on television, where some expert gets dropped in the middle of some harsh climate with a TV crew and shows how to get out alive. But these guys have nothing on the ultimate survivalist -- the rat.

survivalist               roof rat

Bear knows how to survive                                  But this rat is the real survival expert

 

They can (and will) eat just about anything... trash, pet food, small insects, trash, and even droppings from other animals. Yuck.

And they are extremely mobile, can climb about anything, and can go anywhere, can swim, can swim underwater, and reproduce at disgusting rates.

 

Rats and Health

Rats are also major disease-carriers. While the Bubonic Plague, which killed about 1/3 of the population of Europe, they can carry or transmit many diseases like typhus, spirochetal jaundice, tularemia, trichinosis, leishmaniasis, leptospirosis -- and rabies. They have also been linked to the spread of pathogens that result in livestock diseases such as swine fever and foot-and-mouth disease. Yuck.

They can be aggressive, biting up to 15,000 people a year in the United States. And their bites hurt. Their teeth and powerful jaw muscles allow them to chew through almost anything -- even concrete block and lead pipe have been chomped on. Rats have jaw muscles that exert a force almost as powerful as a Great White Shark.

 

A rat will bite any enemy (real or perceived), and gets particularly nasty if it is cornered or the nest is threatened.

Rats can contaminate food sources with their urine and feces, another way rats are capable of spreading disease.

 

Roof Rats

Roof rats are slightly smaller than Norway rats. They are agile climbers and usually live and nest above ground, most often found in enclosed or elevated spaces in attics, walls, false ceilings, and cabinets.

While roof rats eat a wide variety of foods, they prefer natural things like plants, fruits, nuts, berries, slugs, and snails. Residential areas with mature landscaping provide good habitat, as does the vegetation around riverbanks and streams. Roof rats prefer to nest in locations off the ground and rarely dig burrows for living quarters if off-the-ground sites exist. They may live in the landscaping of one residence and feed at another.

If roof rats are living in the attic of a residence, they can cause considerable damage with their gnawing and nest-building activities.


Norway Rats

You may know them as sewer rats. They are the most common rat around the Metro Detroit area.

Unlike roof rats, they like to burrown along building foundations, beneath rubbish or woodpiles, and in moist areas in and around gardens and fields.When Norway rats take residence in a house, they usually remain in the basement or ground floor.

They may undermine building foundations and slabs with their burrowing activities. They may also gnaw on all types of materials, including metals such as copper and lead as well as plastic and wood. rThey also damage garden crops and ornamental plants.

 

Mice

Mice are smaller in size than rats (they are tiny and typically weigh less than an ounce), but are just as much a nuisance for Michigan residents. Their small size allows them to squeeze in and out of small cracks and crevices.

mouse

Once inside your home or office, they seek out any food source possible.But they aren't content to eat just one item... instead they will chew through the packages of many different types of food, all while leaving a trail of feces throughout the cabinets and pantry. This leaves homeowners with a lot of polluted food.

 

The House Dangers Of Mice And Rats

Both mice and rats dig, chew, and reproduce rapidly. That means they can chew through electrical wires, floorboards, walls, and any other surface they need to get through. Unfortunately, their teeth are perfect for destroying almost any type of surface... and if food or safety is on the other side, they'll chew away.

 

Trapping And Poison

Unless you know the Pied Piper, you should call a reputable pest or animal control company to take care of any rat or mouse problems. While you can set traps for very small problems, it is best to treat these guests to some shock-and-awe, and get rid of the problem quickly. Plus, you don't want to deal with bites or come into contact with the diseases that spread through their waste or on their bodies.

Professionals will most likely trap the rodents instead of utilizing poisons. Poison may kill a rat, but it that rodent may choose to die in an inconvenient spot, providing a disgusting stench for weeks that can't be eliminated. Yuck. That means dead rats or mice can be left behind in your basement, attic and walls if poisoned instead of trapped. Double yuck.

 

Get Rid Of The Sources

It isn't enough to get rid of the rodents... the entryways in the home must be discovered and made inaccessible. Some companies patch rodent entryways with steel. Trash or landscaping that provided food and cover must be removed.

Getting rid of a current infestation is only part of the battle. Preventing future rats and mice from nesting in the home is just as important.

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Jason Channell     Twitter - Home Inspection LinkedIn Twitter - Home Inspection

Diadem Property Inspections
(888) 699-8710

Learn more: michigan-indoor-air-quality.com

Learn more: HouseSleuth.com

Michigan Builder's License 2101198700
Environmental Solutions Association 3818 -- Certified Mold Inspector & Assessor, Certified Allergen Inspector
International Indoor Air Quality Commission CC1983 --  Indoor Environmental Certified Consultant

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Rainmaker
617,412
Deborah Byron Leffler BzyBee Real Estate Lady!
Keller Williams Realty Boise - Nampa, ID

I think I will let you keep the mice and rats in Michigan!   EWWWWWW...I am glad I don't live in the country...where my sister has to have a million cats to keep the rodents under control...I don't know if my kitty would know what to do with a mouse?!?!   LOL

November 21, 2010 11:01 PM #1
Rainmaker
617,412
Deborah Byron Leffler BzyBee Real Estate Lady!
Keller Williams Realty Boise - Nampa, ID

I think I will let you keep the mice and rats in Michigan!   EWWWWWW...I am glad I don't live in the country...where my sister has to have a million cats to keep the rodents under control...I don't know if my kitty would know what to do with a mouse?!?!   LOL

November 21, 2010 11:01 PM #2
Rainmaker
421,647
Jean Hanley
Coldwell Banker Kivett Teeters - Hemet, CA
Specializing in Folks Who Want To Buy/Sell Homes

LOL.....a couple of weeks ago I wrote a blog about the rodents in my home.  They ate right thru my dryer vent and one got caught in the workings of the dryer and made it stop working.  Thankfully, we were able to dislodge the little critter and the dryer works again.  I hate these pests.

November 21, 2010 11:05 PM #3
Rainmaker
716,804
Juli Vosmik
Dominion Real Estate Partners, LLC, Scottsdale, AZ - Scottsdale, AZ
Scottsdale/Cave Creek, AZ real estate 480-710-0739

Jason, do you know anything about pack rats?  My husband and his newest best friend, a pack rat which has decided the bottom of our outdoor barbecue is just the right spot for his nest.  He's eaten through any beach towel left by the pool and now, he's attacking my succulent garden.  And, he attracts the rattlers and other snakes who like to dine on him - it's a mess. 

We called out two different pest companies, but he's still with us. 

November 21, 2010 11:42 PM #4
Rainmaker
716,804
Juli Vosmik
Dominion Real Estate Partners, LLC, Scottsdale, AZ - Scottsdale, AZ
Scottsdale/Cave Creek, AZ real estate 480-710-0739

Oh, and I forgot to mention - no poisons are allowed - I wouldn't want my puppies to munch on a dead rat that had eaten poison. 

November 21, 2010 11:42 PM #5
Rainmaker
229,671
Dee Mayers
Covina, CA
San Gabriel Valley, CA

Sounds like you are describing the roach, except for the biting thing.

November 25, 2010 12:53 AM #6
Rainer
130,399
Jason Channell
Diadem Property Inspections - Serving Southeast Michigan - Troy, MI
The House Sleuth

Deborah -- I can't stand mice, but I HATE rats.

Jean -- yuck! Glad you could successfully dislodge the pest!

Juli -- Try baiting one of those "humane" (i.e. non-lethal) traps with lightly chewed Juicy Fruit gum, or peanut butter.

Dee -- Mice and rats are bad enough... I can't throw roaches into the mix in the same post.

November 25, 2010 01:13 AM #7
Anonymous
Anonymous
Anonymous

With just 36 days left in 2010, Zoey the Cool Cat and I just wanted to stop by and wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving. Hope it’s a great one, with lots of fun and food with family and friends!

Happy Thanksgiving!

November 25, 2010 01:16 AM #8
Rainer
130,399
Jason Channell
Diadem Property Inspections - Serving Southeast Michigan - Troy, MI
The House Sleuth

Thanks, Zoey and Russel! Happy Thanksgiving to you both!

November 25, 2010 01:25 AM #9
Anonymous
Anonymous
rat removal


Many home owners will try to deal with rats on their own. However using the services of a professional can save a lot of time and money in the long run. Rats can cause damage and if you do not know how to properly get rid of them you can cause damage getting rid of the rats. Many times the cost of hiring a professional will be much less than the cost of fixing the damage.

March 17, 2011 06:54 AM #10
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Jason Channell

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