Lake St. Catherine - Fall Reflections
Facts: The largest number of living mammals is in the Rodentia order. Rodents are found to be native on all continents except Antarctica. Rodo means “to gnaw” in Latin—something at which these animals are very proficient.
Rabbits, chipmunks, squirrels, voles, beaver, hamsters, rats and mice are just some of the rodents that live in Vermont. When these animals get inside our buildings or eat from our gardens, we label them as pests. Rats and mice are two rodents that are able to live beside humans—we call this phenomenon “commensal” in the pest control industry.
Scientists use rodent populations to determine the health of an ecosystem, as every carnivore eats rodents! This is why rats and mice have to reproduce in large quantities, and in swift cycles. Rats and mice are in the family Muridae. They will eat almost anything that is edible, from seeds to nuts and even meat, if they can get it!
We are often called when mice or rats are discovered inside a home, office, school or production facility. Since a dime– or quarter-sized opening is all that is needed for these rodents to enter a building, there are many, many entry points on most structures. Food products shelved in a cafeteria kitchen and birdseed stored in a closet at a retirement village provide one of the three things necessary to host these rodents: food! As for harborage, we have discovered mouse nests in ski boots, wall voids, cardboard boxes, and in fiberglass insulation. Finally, the third requirement for rats or mice to live beside humans, is water. While rats need to exit a building once a day for water, mice can garner their H2O needs via moist food or sweating pipes.
There are many common-sense tactics to employ when trying to thwart a rodents incursion: keep your lawn/exterior free of litter; exclude the rodents by plugging up holes and entry points with caulk or copper wool or better/improved carpentry; place stored food in tins and nibble-proof containers; don’t leave pet food in dishes, outside or in, for great lengths of time; store your garbage in tightly-covered containers.