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11 Myths About Mice And Rats

What do you actually know about mice and rats? Or maybe a better question is what should you know about them? Rats and mice are not something people often want to think about but when a problem arises, that’s exactly what they find themselves doing. This is because when it comes to rats and mice we have certain ideas and beliefs about them, which are often exaggerated. In our minds they’re as big as cats and live in our sewers! If we see one then we instantly assume they’re scurrying along our floors and living in our walls. To set our mind at ease, here are 11 myths about mice and rats, along with facts to straighten them out!

1. Rats Don’t Carry Diseases Like They Did In The Middle Ages

Specifically, the Norway rat has been found to have transmitted dozens of different diseases to people including salmonella, leptospirosis, trichinosis and even rat bite fever. These diseases can be spread through food contamination from rodent feces and urine as well as bites from rodents.

2. Having Cats Will Keep Rats And Mice Away

Although having cats is helpful, it is not a sure way to prevent either rats or mice from infesting your home or property. Not all cats hunt rodents. If cats are well fed and are tolerant of mice and rats they will often ignore them. If anything, cats attract rats and mice because their food is often left outside for them to eat which these rodents will easily find and eat themselves.

3. There Is One Mouse Per Person Living In A City

Actual research has not been done to determine a specific ratio of mice to humans but the original idea came from a British publication in 1909 making reference to mice living amongst the English countryside. It was an educated guess at best, averaging one mouse per acre which coincidentally at the time was 40 million acres to 40 million people. Word Atlas estimates that there are billions of rats worldwide. Bobby Corrigan, a rodentologist from America ranked Philadelphia, New York, and Boston as the highest rat infested cities. This is due to the dense population. A more accurate statement would be that mice populations are constantly changing as they are affected by weather, food availability and control efforts. Populations fluctuating according to their ability to survive within a given area is a general rule of thumb. What is a fact, however, is that there are many mice living amongst most cities.

4. The Presence Of Mice And Rats Indicates Poor Sanitation

While areas of poor sanitation will not deter rats or mice, even the cleanest of homes and businesses can harbor a problem. If they can find access into your home or building and a food supply or nesting material is available, it is possible they will take residency. Most of these rodents are looking for a food source, so areas where there is an ample supply of food will be an attractant. Pet food, bird seed, fruit trees and gardens are all spaces that rats and mice will look for their food. Thick landscaping, mulch piles, cluttered garages and accessible sheds are also areas they roam looking for shelter and nesting ground.

5. Rats And Mice Are Only Active At Night

Rats and mice often move about when there is less threat of danger. Because this is generally at night, they have been perceived as nocturnal creatures but the fact is, they are not primarily nocturnal. Rather than moving in packs, mice and rats move about individually and will usually stay within a small area, traveling for only food and water. They tend to sleep for short periods of time and because their internal clock doesn’t function on a day or night sleep schedule, they scurry about whenever they are awake in search of supplies.

6. If You See Rats And Mice During The Day You Have An Infestation

Sightings of rats and mice during the day is not a good indicator that you have an infestation or a large population of rodents nearby. A better indication of a potential mice or rat problem is if you see droppings, burrowing and damage done in or around your home or building. Read more about signs of a rat infestation.

7. Cheese Is A Favorite Of Mice

The idea of cheese being used for bait originally came from the fact that cheese was a readily available food source that they were attracted to. Today, trappers will use food items like peanut butter, fruit, seeds and even chocolate as their bait which seems to have a greater effect . Because mice get their water from their food source, foods with higher water content can be more attractive than dry foods or foods with a lesser water ratio. Even cotton balls are used to attract mice, as females will seek out nesting material.

8. Rats Can Get As Big As Cats

The fear of rats combined with sightings that typically happen at night have developed into the idea that rats are as big as cats. On the contrary, rats are significantly smaller than cats reaching only up to 1 pound and 8 inches long. Another reason for this exaggerated belief comes from misidentifying the muskrat as a common sewer rat.

9. Rats Are Aggressive And Will Attack People

Rats will bite and can surely puncture the skin with their sharp teeth, which is what leads to disease being spread, but they are not naturally aggressive creatures unless they are cornered, scared or threatened. A rats nature is one that is actually quite cautious as it is instinctively aware of the dangers present and desires to avoid them.

10. Rats And Mice Have A Long Lifespan

The average lifespan of rats and mice is six months to a year due to disease, predators, poor weather conditions and natures competition.

11. The Only Thing To Be Concerned About Regarding Rats And Mice Is Chewing Damage

Rats and mice will chew through just about anything in order to get into a food source or supply of nesting material. The damage done by their chewing is not the main concern, however. There are many major health hazards to consider that are associated with mice and rats, which are far worse than any property damage that could incur. Diseases and parasites can spread through contaminated food, animal feed and cargo; and are of great concern as they are easily transmittable and can be life threatening.

Which of these myths did you recognize as a common belief of mice and rats? Do you feel better knowing that rats don’t grow to be the size of a cat? Even though you may not find either of them to be cute and cuddly, it’s helpful to understand the truths about rodents since whether we like it or not, they are living amongst us. Rats and mice, as with all creatures, are part of nature and the cycle of life. Learning facts behind them will help us if we ever encounter them or find signs of an infestation. Want to learn more? Take a look at the 10 interesting and scary facts about rodents.

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