The House Mouse, and sometimes the Long-Tailed Field Mouse are found in buildings as they seek the warmth and shelter for nesting sites and food:
The House Mouse body length ranges between 60-90mm and the tail can add an additional 100mm. They weigh less than 25g, and their fur colour varies between light brown and grey.
Mice have an acute sense of hearing, frequently using ultrasound to communicate, and are particularly sensitive to any sudden noise. Their presence is usually detected from their dark-coloured droppings or damage to stored foods in the larder, packaging or woodwork.
Mice live in nests that they build out of cloth, wool and paper. Nests are often built inside houses, in places such as roof spaces, under floors or in wall cavities, and wherever there is access to a good source of food, especially during the winter. Mice can squeeze through cracks as small as 5mm but mouse holes are normally 20-30mm in diameter. Mice are mainly active at night and can often be heard running about as they search for food.
Mice are erratic, sporadic feeders, nibbling at many sources of food rather than taking repeated meals from any one item. They do not need free water to drink as they normally obtain sufficient moisture from their food. Their favourite foods are cereal products, although they will eat almost anything.
There are two species of rat in Britain, Rattus Norvegicus which is commonly known as the Brown Rat or Common Rat. The Rattus Rattus, referred to as the Black Rat or Ship Rat is now rarely found in the UK.
The Brown Rat is the larger of the rats in Britain, often weighing over half a kilo and measuring about 23cm, without counting the tail. It has a blunt muzzle, small hair-covered ears and a tail that is shorter than its body. The Black Rat weighs half as much and is shorter. It has a pointed muzzle, large, almost hairless ears, a more slender body and a long thin tail that is longer than its body.
Rats have well-developed senses of smell taste and touch. They have an acute sense of hearing, frequently using ultrasound to communicate, and is especially sensitive to any sudden noise. Both species breed rapidly and become sexually mature in about three months. Each female may produce from 3 to 12 litters of between six and eight young in a year. Rats need to gnaw to keep their constantly growing incisor teeth worn down. They damage woodwork, plastic, bricks and lead pipes, and will strip insulation from electrical cables.
Brown Rats live in any situation that provides food, water and shelter. In homes, they will live in roof spaces, wall cavities or under floorboards. In gardens, they will burrow into grassy banks or under sheds. Brown Rats are often found living in sewer systems. Black Rats are rare and are occasionally found in shipping ports.
Rats feed mostly at night, and an average rat will eat 50g of food a day. Preferred foods are cereal products, although rats are omnivorous and will eat almost anything that humans eat.
Why control Rats?
Rats carry many nasty diseases which they can spread to humans, normally through their urine, including; Leptospirosis or Weil's disease, Salmonella, Listeria, Toxoplasma gondii and Hantavirus.
Rats can inflict an enormous amount of structural damage. They can cause severe fires by gnawing away the insulation around electrical cables, floods by puncturing pipes and even death by chewing through gas pipes. The insurance sector has estimated that rodent damage to wiring is responsible for 25% of all electrical fires in buildings.
Rats can ruin an organisation's reputation. If clients and customers spot evidence of rodent infestation in the premises you manage, they are unlikely to want to do business with you.
Property owners have a legal obligation under the Prevention of Damage by Pests Act 1949 to keep premises rodent free, or, if rodents pose a threat to health or property, to report infestations to the local authority.
How to prevent Rats
You can put steps in place to try and avoid a rat infestation:
Eliminate any harbourage points such as sealing gaps around pipes and under sheds; rats only need a gap of 15mm to gain entry.
Remove potential nesting sites by keeping yards and gardens clean and tidy, by cutting back overgrown areas and clearing any piles of wood/debris.
Ensure that drain inspection covers are in a good state of repair.
Cover any household waste where rats can get access to it, close dustbin lids and cover compost heaps.
If you feed garden birds, do not do this to excess and use a bird table or feeder basket if possible.
ats are adaptable, highly mobile and breed rapidly; this combination can make rat control a difficult task for the untrained individual. For any rat infestation, we would always recommend contacting a professional pest control company, preferably a member of the BPCA. They are trained in rat control and will have access to a range of professional use rodenticides which are not available to the public.
However, if you decide to carry out the work yourself, then you can buy amateur use poisons and traps from a hardware store or garden centre. Most rats are wary of new objects such as traps or poisons placed in their environment and will avoid them for a period before exploring them, so don't expect instant success. When placing poison or traps, make sure they are in a safe and secure place out of reach of children and pets.
Squirrel damage in your home, business and to your health
Grey squirrels can cause damage when they enter roof spaces of houses and buildings. For example, they can:
Chew on woodwork and ceilings
Strip insulation from electrical wires
Tear up fibreglass insulation
Contaminate cold water tanks with urine and droppings.
People also report sleep issues due to the loud noises they make at night while they’re scuttling around your attic. Squirrels are most active before sunrise, especially in winter, but ends well before sunset. Their peak activity is activity is four-five hours before daybreak.
Grey squirrels often associate humans with food, meaning they sometime approach people. Some people fear being attacked, however it’s very rare for a squirrel to actually attack!
In gardens and allotments, they can take fruit, raid nests of small birds and dig holes in lawns to bury food.
Signs of squirrels in your home or business
These are the seven signs easiest signs to spot when looking for evidence of squirrels in your home or loft.
Scratching and rustling sound from your loft or a wall cavity
Spotting droppings in the loft – although you might need a pest controller to identify these droppings
Smell of urine in the loft area might indicate the infestation has been going on some time
Spotting lots of other squirrels around your property, particularly near your roof or on high fences
Fruit and nuts being stolen from bird feeders, or the feeders being disturbed/knocked over
Bark being stripped from trees in your garden
Holes in vents or damage to your insulation foam.
If you’ve noticed a few of these signs, then it might be time to find a pest control company.
Grey squirrels and our forests
Grey squirrels cause damage to trees such as beech, oak and chestnut. They strip bark at the base of trees which causes them to weaken and eventually to die.
Grey squirrels also:
Raid birds’ nests to prey on eggs and fledglings
Damage orchards and gardens
Reap havoc on historic and ancient woodlands.
The drey (nest) may be in a hole in a tree or set against the trunk and branches. Alternatively they can make themselves quite at home in an attic or roof space.
Pregnancy (gestation) lasts 44 days, and their young are called kittens. They usually have two litters a year, each with three to seven kittens.
Kittens are born with closed eyes, no teeth and no hair. After about seven weeks they look like small versions of their parents and are ready to leave the drey.
Squirrels moult their coat twice a year – once after winter and then in the late summer before the weather gets colder again.
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