Rats and mice are common rodent pests that invade Florida homes and warehouses in search of food and shelter . These rodents can consume everything that humans eat. Urine, droppings, and fur contaminate ten times as much food as they consume. Bubonic plague, murine typhus, spirochetal jaundice, Leptospirosis, rabies, and rat bites are only a few of the diseases they can spread.
Norway rats are most popular along Florida's seacoasts and canals. They excel in places where garbage isn't properly disposed of. While Norway rats prefer fresh meat, fish, and grains, they can live on an ounce of garbage or decayed food per day, along with an ounce of water. In pursuit of food or water, they often travel 100–150 feet from harborages.
Roof rats are attracted to attics, roof spaces, palm trees, and ornamental shrubbery. Climbers, they tend to build their nests off the ground. Since they live in citrus trees and gnaw on the fruit, roof rats are harmful to citrus groves. They may gnaw on electrical wires and rafters in attics, causing significant damage. Roof rats like vegetables, fruits, and grains, but they only eat 12 to 1 ounce of each.
House mice are typically found in fields, occasionally migrating into structures. They live in homes behind walls, cabinets and furniture. They prefer grains but will nibble eon a wide variety of foods. House mice require only 1/10th ounce of food and 1/20 ounce of water per day, and can survive on food alone if the environment is moist. House mice frequently travel travel 10-30 feet from their nest. They are brown to gray in color with the tail as long as the body. Adults weigh about 1/2 ounce. Their droppings are 1/8 inch long and rod-shaped. House mice live about 1 year and reach sexual maturity in 6 weeks, having 5-6 young per litter and up to 8 litters per year.
Since rats and mice are active at night and are rarely seen during the day, it is necessary to recognize signs of their activity.
The majority of people first notice rodent problems when they discover droppings or urine stains in and around buildings. Rodents usually have preferred toilet locations, but they will urinate almost anywhere. Old feces are gray, dusty, and crumbly. Fresh poop is black, shiny, and putty. Rodents urinate while running, leaving distinctive streaks. The urine glows blue when exposed to ultraviolet light..Droppings of roof rat (½"), Norway rat (3/4") and house mouse (1/8").
Rodents gnaw on a daily basis to keep their teeth short and sharp. Rats gnaw to gain access or to obtain food. Gnawing is indicated by tooth marks on food, building materials, wire, and beam edges. They will gnaw through wooden walls, pressed wood, and posts. Fresh gnawing in wood is typically light in color and has sharp, splintery edges. The gnawing of old is smoother and darker.
Rats frequently use the same paths or runways to get from their harborage to food or water. Outside runways are 2–3 inch wide paths that appear as smooth, hardpacked trails beneath vegetation. Runways are typically found along walls indoors. The presence of undisturbed cobwebs or dust indicates that runways are not being used.
Along runways, dark greasy rub marks appear from contact with the rodent's body. Rub marks on walls appear as black smudges left by the rodent. New rub marks are soft and will smudge. Old rub marks are brittle and will flake when scratched. Rafters may show swing marks of roof rats.
To detect rodent activity, spread dust material like talcum powder along runways. Footmarks of rats (5-toe hind foot, 4-toe front foot) or tail drag marks will show in the powder.
Norway rats burrow for nesting and harborage. Burrows are usually found in earth banks, along walls, under rubbish and concrete slabs. Freshly dug dirt scattered in front of 3-inch openings with runways leading to the openings is characteristic. Burrows usually are 18 inches deep in most soils. Slick, hard-packed runways indicate an old established colony.
The sighting of live rats is a sure sign of infestation. Sightings in the daytime indicate large populations, disease or poisoning. Mummified rat carcasses may indicate a former infestation although many fresh carcasses suggest disease or poisoning.
Usually rodent sounds are heard at night or in quiet areas. Rodents moving at night often scratch, gnaw, and fight. The young often squeak while in the nest.
Inspect interior of attic for signs of rodent activity. Set traps in the attic and any other rodent avenues. Rodent stations are placed outside of the home. Rodent Exclusion service completes process or can be used as a preventative measure, if no active signs of rodents exist at the time of inspection. Sanitize and disinfection of the attic can also be done to remove soiled insulation and droppings.