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Scientific Name: Rodentia
Physical Attributes: Small, furry mammals with specialized incisors for gnawing wood and other foods
Adult Size: 6 cm in length; 7 g in weight – 91 kg (200 lbs) in weight
Color: Varies: black, white, brown, beige
Habitat: All except oceans
Lifespan: Usually 1-5 years; up to 20 years in some varieties
Found In: All U.S. states

Rodent Behavior

Rodents are the largest order of mammals, and thus, consist of a wide range of species. The rodents most often identified as vermin for homeowners are mice and rats.

Rodents mostly feed on plant material, particularly seeds, although some varieties eat insects. Their large, distinctive incisors enable them to gnaw through wood, where they usually make their homes.

Most rodents prefer to live outdoors and only come indoors when food is scarce in their natural habitats. In North America, House Mice or Golden Mice are often the problem when homeowners suspect a rodent infestation. All mice can enter homes through very small openings, and all can spread disease to humans.

Different types of rodents will make their homes in different parts of your home. Mice are very adaptable and will make themselves comfortable in just about any spot, but their favorite places tend to be in places not frequented by other members of the household, including behind walls and in attics and basements. They are also known to frequently chew through wires, posing fire hazards.

All species gnaw almost continuously, so expect to see damage to wood, furniture, walls, clothing, and other household goods if you have a rodent problem. And if you have nuts or seeds in the kitchen, they’ll help themselves, gnawing through almost any material to get to them.

The Importance of Rodents

While wild rodents are considered a nuisance, they have aided humans throughout history in a number of ways.

Rodents have been captured and used as food for various farm animals and pets for centuries. They’ve also been used for seed dispersal, and their fur has been used for clothes-making.

In more recent history, rodents have been used extensively for scientific research. Their long lifespans, keen intelligence, and short reproductive cycles make them ideal subject matter for testing that benefits human health. Though rodents and humans look very different, we actually share a lot of genetic code with mice and rats in particular, which means that if something is found to be harmful to rats in a lab, it will likely result in similar harm in humans.

Rodent Control

Rodents are known carriers of many diseases, some of which are especially dangerous to humans. They’re also responsible for considerable damage to buildings, gardens, and crops.

The easiest way to keep rodents out of your home is to hide food sources. Like most pests, rodents are attracted to the scent of food dropped on the floor or left out on counter tops. So keep your kitchen clean.

You can also deter rodents by sealing holes or openings in your home that are larger than a pencil head. The smallest mice can squeeze through a hole the size of a dime. Make sure weather stripping around doors is in good condition, too. You can also seal foundation and attic vents with 1/4-inch hardware cloths, and do the same for turbine vents in your roof. Keeping debris, wood piles and tree limbs away from your home can also keep rodents out.

If you have rodents and want to control them yourself, there are a few things you can try. You can use snap traps, live traps, or a combination of the two. The challenge with traps is that they can be dangerous to children and pets. They’re only effective if you can ensure the bait is positioned so that the rodent will activate the trigger. And this can require a few attempts.

Some at-home control methods may work, but for severe rodent problems, professional pest control is usually more effective. Professional pest control companies will typically use a trap system so that the bodies may be easily removed after they’ve been killed. Otherwise, the rodent may die behind a wall or some other inaccessible place.

Types of Rodents

Rodents are varied and numerous. But if you suspect a rodent problem, here are your likely culprits: