Sunday, June 22, 2014

Rodents part 1: About rodents and how to recognize that they are around your farm

The most common rodents around livestock and farms are the house mouse (Mus musculus), the Norway rate (Rattus norvegicus), and roof rat (Rattus rattus).  They are difficult to eliminate from your property, even for pest control professionals.
Image taken from: “Controlling rodents in Commercial Poultry Facilities” Judy Loven and Ralph Williams, Purdue University Extension Article.
Why Control Rodents?
A) They carry diseases.  Mice and rats can carry up to 45 diseases transmitted to poultry and humans.  Some of these diseases include bordeltellosis, leptospirosis, erysipelas, salmonellosis, fowl pox, fowl cholera (pasteurellosis), trichinosis, toxoplasmosis, and rabies.  Rodents can also spread disease from a contaminated to non-contaminated area via their feet, fur, droppings, urine, saliva and blood.

B) Rodents can attract predators to your farm:  High numbers of rodents are a food source that can attract foxes, coyotes, raccoons, skunks, dogs, and cats that can contribute to disease problems.

C) They can damage buildings and insulation.  Rats and mice can chew through rubber, aluminum, cinder blocks, plastic, wood, improperly cured concrete and wool.  They can even start fires when chewing through electrical wires.

D) They consume and contaminate feed.  100 rats can consume over 1 ton of feed in a year, and contaminate the feed with droppings, urine, and hair.

Mouse and Rat Facts:
  1. They are nocturnal and highly reproductive- In ideal conditions, rats and their offspring and produce 20 million young in 3 years, and mice reproduce even faster.
  2. Rats can jump as high as 3 feet, and as far as 4 feet.
  3. Rodents can drop from heights of over 50 feet without being injured.
  4. Rats can swim half a mile in open water, and can tread water for three days.
  5. Mice and rats don’t like to go far from their nest.  Rats wander around a maximum of 148 ft from the nest, and mice 30 ft.
  6. Rats need water daily, while mice can live 2-4 days without water.
  7. Rodents prefer cereal grains, but will also eat garbage, insects, meat (they can antagonize your chickens and kill chicks), fruits and vegetables, and manure.
  8. Mice eat small portions and feed sporadically making as many as 20-30 short visits to food at night.  Rats tend to get their daily food at one or two locations.
  9. Rodents don’t like exposed spaces.  They often travel in contact with a wall or other objects, can climb rough walls, and travel along utility wires.
  10. Rats can squeeze through small spaces of a half inch, and mice through quarter inch spaces.
  11. Mice produce 40-100 droppings per night and rats about 20-50 droppings.
  12. Image taken from: “Controlling rodents in Commercial Poultry Facilities” Judy Loven and Ralph Williams, Purdue University Extension Article.

Signs of a rodent infestation:
Sounds: Gnawing, climbing noises in walls, squeeks
Droppings: Found along walls, behind objects, and newar food supplies.  Rat droppings are bean sizes, and mice droppings are rice sized.
Burrows:  Rat burrows – fresh digging around foundations, through floorboards into wall spaces.  In areas where the ground is soft, mice can also dig tunnels and burrow in the ground.
Runs:  Look for dust free areas along walls and behind storage material.
Gnawing marks:  Look for wood chips around boards, bins and crates.  Fesh gnawing marks will be pale in color.
Rodent Odors:  Persistent musky odors are a positive sign of infestation.
Rodent sightings:  Daylight sigting of mice is common.  Rats are seen in the daylight only if populations are high.  There are approximately 25 mice or rats for every one that is seen.

Next Blog
We will talk about how to control and prevent rodent populations!


Dr. Mark Bland DVM, MS, DACPV, Cutler Associates International

“Rodent Control: 7 ways to keep mice and rats out of the coop” Mike Wilhite

Animal Damage Management, Dept. of Entomology, “Controlling rodents in Commercial Poultry Facilities” Judy Loven and Ralph Williams, Purdue University, Publication ADM-3-W

Rodent Control in Livestock and Poultry facilities, G.A. Surgeoner

“What you need to know about rodent control” Weibe ban der Sluis

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