Rodents have been responsible for, or implicated in, the spread of many diseases to people and domestic animals—especially in years past. Today however, because of sanitation, effective drugs, and rodent and insect control programs, the disease threat from rodents is not as significant as it once was. In fact, the spread of disease by rodents is often not the primary reason for their control. But because of the habits of rodents (traveling and dwelling in sewers, garbage, etc.), there are still cases of human and animal diseases being transmitted by rodents, and there is also the constant potential of disease outbreaks that can be intensified and accelerated by rodents in cities where rats and mice live in close proximity to people.
Mouse Allergens – Research in 1999 of children in inner-city areas of eight major cities demonstrated that the house mouse carries a protein within its urine that can trigger severe cases of asthma and allergic rhinitis in susceptible people. Considering that mice typically urinate in microdroplets in many, many spots as they forage about inside a room, literally thousands of micro areas on surfaces can be covered with mouse urine inside homes or schools, offices, etc., that contain significant mouse infestation. As a result of this finding, the ordinary house mouse is considered much more of a health pest than in the past.
House Mouse Facts
House mice are non-descript, brownish rodents with relatively large ears and small eyes. They weigh about 1/2 ounce and are usually light brownish to light grayish. An adult is about 5 1/2 to 7 1/2 inches long, including the 3- to 4-inch tail.
Although house mice usually feed on cereal grains, they will eat many kinds of food. They are sporadic feeders, nibbling bits of food here and there. Mice have keen senses of taste, hearing, smell, and touch. They are excellent climbers and can run up any rough vertical surface. They will run horizontally along wire cables or ropes and can jump up 13 inches from the floor onto a flat surface. Mice can squeeze through openings slightly larger than 1/4 inch in diameter.
In a single year, a female may have five to ten litters of usually five or six young each. Young are born 19 to 21 days after mating, and they reach reproductive maturity in six to ten weeks. The life span of a mouse is about nine to twelve months.
Norway rats are husky, brownish rodents that weigh about 11ounces. They are about 13 to 18 inches long including the 6 to 8 1/2 inch tail. Their fur is coarse and mostly brown with scattered black on the upper surfaces. The underside is typically grey to yellowish-white.
Rats will eat nearly any type of food, but they prefer high-quality foods such as meat and fresh grain. Rats require 1/2 to 1 fluid ounce of water daily when feeding on dry food. Rats have keen taste, hearing and sense of smell. They will climb to find food or shelter, and they can gain entrance to a building through any opening larger than 1/2 inch across.
Rats have litters of 6 to 12 young, which are born 21 to 23 days after mating. Young rats reach reproductive maturity in about three months. Breeding is most active in spring and fall. The average female has four to six litters per year. Rats can live for up to 18 months, but most die before they are one year old.
Roof Rat: Also known as the Black Rat, Ship Rat, & here in Florida, the Fruit or Citrus Rat. This is the only rat we have to worry about here in Orlando. All of the rat photos you see on this website are from Roof Rats. I have never encountered a single Norway Rat down here. Roof rats are usually gray to slightly brown in color. Adults are typically 8 inches long, with a 9 inch long tail. The tail is long, dark, and scaley. Roof rats prefer warmer, more tropical climates than Norways.
Roof Rats get their name because they spend about 90% of their time above ground. The live in trees, run on power lines, the tops of fences, and they really love to live in the attics of houses. Females have 4-6 litters per year, with 6-8 young per litter. They are fully weaned within a month, and sexually mature in as little as two months. They don’t live very long in the wild, seldom more than a year. Roof Rats are nocturnal, which is why you hear them scampering in your attic in the middle of the night.