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RODENTS

BACKGROUND | BIOLOGY | BEHAVIOR

 RatRat on ropeMouseGrey Squirrel

BACKGROUND:

  • Rats, mice and squirrels sweat through the soles of their feet.
  • A group of rats is called a mischief of rats.
  • Rodents can't regurgitate. This is very beneficial with regard to medical research.
  • It is estimated there is one rat for each person in the United States.
  • Rats can carry at least 10 different kinds of diseases including Bubonic Plague, Murine Typhus, Rabies, Ratbite Fever and bacterial food poisoning.
  • Rodents’ incisors continually grow. Only frequent gnawing of hard objects keeps them short and sharp.
  • The first domestic rats were originally raised by people as pets and for gambling purposes involving dogs, such as terriers. Now they are primarily used for research purposes.
  • Squirrels will run in an erratic path in an attempt to confuse predators. This tactic may work when being chased by a dog, but is generally unsuccessful at redirecting a 2 ton vehicle going 30 MPH.
  • If a squirrel’s nest becomes infested with fleas or other parasites, it will move to a new nest.
  • The word rodent comes from the Latin word rodens (gnawing one).
  • The word squirrel comes from the ancient Greek word skiouros (shadow-tailed).
  • The word mouse comes from an ancient Sanskrit word mus (Thief).
  • The Norway rat was improperly named in the 1700’s based on the idea it came to Europe from Norway. In actuality, Norway rats were introduced to Europe via ships traveling from Asia. 

BIOLOGY:

    • House Mouse
      • The House mouse is a small rodent (weighs less than 1 oz.) with large ears, a pointed snout and tail as long as its body.
      •  House mice live about 1 year and reach sexual maturity in just 6 weeks!

 

    • Norway Rat and Roof Rat
      • A Norway rat’s body is thicker and more robust than that of a Roof rat, which is longer and slender.
      • Norway rats and Roof rats live 1 year on average and reach sexual maturity in 3-5 months.
      • These rodents have poor vision, but very acute hearing and sense of smell.

 

  • Gray Squirrel
      • 70% of gray squirrels live only one year in the wild. 1% may live to be 5 years of age.
      • Squirrels have very good vision and can see in color, but are blue and yellow colorblind.
      • A squirrel’s toes and legs are adapted for jumping and climbing. Their back legs can even rotate 180 degrees to allow their rear claws to hook into rough surfaces! 

BEHAVIOR:

        • Most squirrels are diurnal (active during the day), with the exception of the flying squirrel which is nocturnal (active at night).
        • Mice and rats are nocturnal. If these rodents are seen during the day, it can be an indication of a large infestation.
        • Norway rats are burrowers, while roof rats are climbers.
        • Rodent home invasions usually peak when temperatures drop, as the rodents seek warm shelter.
        • Rodents are very secretive in their behavior, but they leave clues of their presence such as:         
            • Droppings and urine 
            • Smear marks from their bodies rubbing surfaces 
            • Gnawed objects 
            • Noises from their activity 
            • Burrows and trails 
            • Actual sightings of rodents

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