The house mouse, Mus domesticus, is the common pest in urban environments, although field mice can be a problem in autumn and winter. Where these enter premises, control is the same as for house mice. Mice will drink water if available but can survive on food with a moisture content of 15 percent. They are omnivorous; feeding from a number of different points during the course of a night’s feed. Whole wheat, which has been partly eaten by mice, has a kibbled appearance while whole grain, partly eaten by rats, has a cut or chopped appearance.
In domestic premises, locations favoured by mice are food storage and preparation areas such as kitchens and pantries. Airing cupboards, sub floor areas, enclosed pipes, baths and loft areas are also favoured locations.
The house mouse is the most common commensal rodent (living in close association with humans). It is grey and weighs between one half to one ounce. The body is three to four inches long. Droppings are 1/8 to 1/4 of an inch long and are rod shaped with pointed ends.
The female reaches sexual maturity in 35 days and averages eight litters per year. Each litter can average six young. With 30-35 weaned young per year numbers increase rapidly. They begin to breed at five to six weeks of age and their life span is about one year.
They are good climbers, jump 12 inches high and can jump from eight feet. House mice easily squeeze through holes and gaps wider than 1/4inch. They are extremely inquisitive and readily explore anything new. Their foraging territories are usually no more than 20 feet. They feed at dusk and just before dawn. The major health risks associated with mice are salmonella and leptospirosis.
Rodents have the ability to adapt themselves to almost any environment. Their great reproductive potential, natural cunning and survivability puts them among the most successful animals on earth.
Rodents use the five senses of smell, touch, hearing, sight and taste in order to survive.
The sense of touch is considered the most highly developed of the rodents’ senses using the vibrissae or whiskers on the muzzle and guard hairs that are found among the fur. These organs help rodents orientate in the dark and help them judge shapes and sizes
of objects. After a short learning period on
the whereabouts of objects in the immediate environment, runs become well established. Smell will also play a part in the forming of the runs. When danger threatens, automatic use of this information will be vital.
Problems associated with rats and mice
The main reasons for control are to reduce or eliminate:
• Spread of disease
• Contamination of products
• Damage to food stocks and property
Rodents can cause damage to food intended for humans, by consumption, contamination with faeces and urine, as well as other physical and microbiological contaminants.
Rodents have the capability to spread many human pathogens, such as Salmonella spp, Listeria spp, Escherichia coli, Cryptosporidium parvum, Leptospira spp, Hantaviruses, Bubonic plague and Toxoplasmosis.
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