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Rats and mice are more than just a nuisance. At a minimum they cause damage to furniture and timber in the home.
More alarming is their capacity to trigger electrical fires by gnawing on cables and wires or transfer disease by contaminating food, food preparation areas and utensils through contact with their fur, urine and droppings.
Rodents act as carriers for disease. These include Salmonella food poisoning, rat-bite fever - bacterial infection, trichinosis worms, and murine typhus fever.
People get fleaborne typhus from an infected flea. Most fleas defecate while biting; the feces of infected fleas contain the bacteria that cause the disease. The bacteria enter the body at the time of the bite wound or from scratching of the bite area. It is possible to get typhus by inhaling contaminated, dried flea feces. However, this method of transmission is not as common as transmission from a biting flea.
Female rodents have between 4 and 10 litters per year. Each litter consists of 5-8 individuals. This, combined with their exceptionally brief life cycle as short as 40 and 45 days from birth to sexual maturity, means infestations can increase rapidly if not detected early. Rats and mice often nest in roof and wall cavities or burrows close to the building.
Because rats and mice are most active at night, detection can initially be difficult. The easiest way detect the presence of rodents is evidence of droppings and urine, signs of damage from gnawing, locating nests - usually of paper/rags, and identifying sounds of their activity at night. Once rodent activity is detected, the approach to treatment is based on the species present and local conditions.
If rat problems persist after you've eliminated all known sources of food and shelter, some form of population reduction, such as trapping or baiting, is almost always necessary.
Rats are wary animals, easily frightened by unfamiliar or strange noises. However, they quickly become accustomed to repeated sounds, making the use of frightening sounds, including high-frequency and ultrasonic sounds, ineffective for controlling rats in home and garden situations.
Rats have an initial aversion to some odors and tastes, but no repellents have been found to solve a rat problem for more than a very short time.
A one-way door allows rats to exit a structure, but prevents them from finding their way back in the same door (Fig. 10). Unfortunately, a rat may try and enter the structure elsewhere.