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Gnawing mammals like the mouse and rat have been a very annoying pest to home, building and garden owners for a long time. Mice and rats can be very destructive and can pose a threat to human health. These rodents can climb, swim and jump great distances to gain entrance to houses and other buildings. Entrance to a building is often made by enlarging existing holes or cracks in an effort to find food and shelter. Evidence of rodent activity include bite marks on wooden structures, pipes, clothing and food or the presence of fecal droppings. Rodents will eat almost anything and prefer dark hiding places. Mice and rats are very smart and may be difficult to control once a population is established.


Mouse The common house mouse, which ranges in colour from brown to gray, is quite small measuring 4 1/2 - 6 inches (11-15 cm) in length. They have large ears, a pointed nose, sharp, flat teeth and a long tail which is darker in colour than the body. At the age of two to three months, a mouse can begin reproducing. During an average lifespan of 18 months, a mouse can produce approximately twelve litters of five or six young. The first litter is usually born three weeks after mating. Mice like dry areas and often obtain their water requirements from their food source.


Rat The Norway and roof rat species are the most common in the Atlantic Provinces. Both species of rat have very sharp teeth and poor eyesight. The Norway rat is a light shade of brown measuring 12 to 18 inches (30-45 cm) including the tail. They have a blunt nose, small close-set ears and a long tail. Nests of the Norway rat are found in burrows. The roof rat is slightly smaller than the Norway rat. It can also be distinguished by its sharp nose, large hairless ears and a longer tail. Nests of the roof rat are found in walls, attics and trees. Ground level living arrangements are preferred, but rats will make nests wherever food and shelter can be found. Rats also have a lifespan of up to 18 months although many die before reaching this age. Rats will reproduce approximately nine times with a litter of 6 to 14 young being born three to four weeks after mating.


Rodent presence is easily detected by visual sightings of the rodent, fecal droppings or by chewing damage and noise. Rodents will chew or gnaw on almost anything particularly at night. They will also chew to gain entrance to a dwelling. Many unexplained fires have been caused by rodents chewing on electrical wiring. Food and food supplies can become contaminated when urine and feces are deposited on it by rodents.

The fecal droppings of mice are 1/4 inch (6 mm) long and pointy while rat droppings are 3/4 inch (19 mm) long and oblong-shaped. Flea infested rodents can introduce a flea infestation to a pet or dwelling.

Exercise care when approaching a rodent as they have been known to bite people.



Since rats and mice reproduce quickly and in large numbers, it is important to protect your home and health by denying them access. Search for potential entrances and take steps to avoid rodent infestation. Repair all openings with a strong material (cement, metal, etc.) which should prevent rodent entry. Avoid leaving hiding places and concealed runways for rodents. Do not pile wood on the ground - instead lay it against raised posts. Remove any vegetation close to the house and keep grass short to limit hiding places. Continuous monitoring is a must!

Sanitary measures also aid in control. Do not leave food in containers or packages which rodents can chew through. Instead store food in heavy plastic or glass containers. Keep doors to pantries or other food storage areas closed and rodent-proof. Look around the house for other conditions which might attract rodents.

Traps can be used to control rodent populations but they require monitoring and follow-up. Gloves should be used because rodents have a very good sense of smell. Gloves will also provide protection from disease. The main types of traps include snap, multi-catch and glue board. Since rodents follow familiar paths again and again, these traps should be placed at right angles to the wall where activity has been spotted. Place traps two to three feet apart. Bait can be used to lure rodents to these traps. Some effective baits to use are peanut butter, bread, dried fruit or cheese.

Snap traps are generally the least expensive rodent trap. It is important to leave the trap unset for a period of time first so the rodents will become comfortable with it. Another option is to use glue boards which can be very effective. If a rodent steps on the surface of the board, it will become stuck and remain there until it dies or is removed. Glue board traps come in various sizes, but are more effective on mice. They are easy to handle (and eliminate the possibility of snapping fingers!). Flexible glue boards can also be placed around pipes or other enclosed areas where rodent activity has been observed.

A multi-catch trap can catch several rodents, resetting itself after each one is caught. The unfavourable characteristic of this type of trap that the captured rodents are alive and must be eliminated, either by drowning or in some other manner.


The oldest and most common control of rodents has been the cat. People have adopted cats as pets for this purpose for centuries. However, some cats may be afraid of large rats, and they may also catch fleas from the rodents.


If biological and physical control measures are not effective, use a pesticide which will have a minimal impact on both you and the environment. As with any pesticide, caution is necessary to keep rodenticides out of areas which kids and pets frequent. Anticoagulant baits are the least hazardous to humans and animals. There are several forms of bait available. Once the bait has been consumed, the rodent will experience internal bleeding and then die. It is recommended that bait stations be used because they limit access to rodents only. Bait stations hold the bait inside and contain a small hole through which the rodents can climb. The disadvantage of this method is that it may take some time for rodents to die after consuming the bait. As a result, they may die in a concealed place and produce a stench before being found.

Always use a registered domestic class pest control product labelled for rodent control and carefully follow the label directions.

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