As winter nears the days grow shorter and the evenings become coolers. As we move indoors seeking shelter and warmth, so do rats and mice. They also are looking for warmth, food and shelter, however they are not our preferred domestic companions.

Characteristics:

It is useful to be aware of the characteristics of rats and mice so that you can identify them.

There are two different types of rat:

a) rattus rattus known as the black rat, ship rat or roof rat. The adult weighs about 250g, is grey, black or in some instances brown.

b) rattus norwegicus known as the brown rat, wharf rat or norwegian rat. The adult weighs about 450g.

They are accompanied by the common mouse mus musculus, and the field mouse apodermus sylvaticus. However, it is the grey domestic or house mouse along with the two rats that most commonlyoccupy our domestic environment, in their search for food and shelter.

If you suspect that there may be rats and mice occupying your property there are a number of actions you can take:

1. If you suspect that there could be rats and mice infesting your property, then
it is advisable to carry out a full inspection of your house, any outdoor buildings
as well as amongst the vegetation.

a) This can be done by checking the buildings thoroughly, above the ceiling as rats and mice are fond of nesting amongst ceiling insulation. They will also carry newspaper and any rags
they find to line a nest.

b) Under the floor boards also needs inspecting as rats and mice will burrow using similar materials to build a nest.

c) Be aware, that rats and mice are nocturnal. If you hear any scratching or squeaking during the night coming from above the ceiling, in the walls or under the floor. It is highly
probable there are rodents nesting there.

d) Check food storage areas, shelves or pantries. If there are broken food bags it’s a good sign there are rats or mice in residence.

e) Look around the edges of rooms for pathways that mice and rats create going from the nest to a food source. Also check for mice or rat droppings in all areas.

f) If there is a musky odour, it will be from rodent urine and is quite distinctive. Rodents use the smell to find their way to and from as they have poor eyesight but an extremely
good sense of smell.

g) If there are any dead rats or mice found, it is a good indication that there will be live rodents nearby.

2. When you are satisfied that there is evidence of an infestation there are a number of measures which can be put in place to control the rodents.

a) Plug any holes with a robust mesh, rats will chew through a light wire, metal pot scrubbers are also effective, an expanding spray will also work.

b) Investigate the eradication methods available, such as baits, traps and chemical control.

c) With a number of chemical control methods you will have to contact a professional pest control company. This is an advisable move as they will also be able to provide a thorough
inspection, especially if there appears to be a number of rodents on your property.

It also is advisable to remember that many rodent poisons are just that. They are highly toxic and if used incorrectly or located in the wrong place can cause significant to children, adults and pets. Rats and mice are used for laboratory testing, so they have a similar physiology to humans and any substance that will poison a rat or mouse will also affect a human or favourite pet.