Rodent Tall 'Tails'
Mar 11, 2010
Few pests generate as many persistent myths as do pest rodents and their management. Who hasn't heard stories about "rats as big as cats," and how some rodenticides supposedly make rodents go outside to drink, or perhaps allegedly mummify them? Here are some great rodent myths:
MYTH: SEWER RATS ARE DIFFERENT FROM WHARF RATS.
The other common commensal pest rat in the United States and many other countries is the roof rat, R. rattus. It's also called the black, plague or ship rat. This rat is smaller than the Norway rat and is found in warmer areas, such as in California, Texas and Florida. Cotton rats (Sigmodon spp.) are between rats and mice in size. This native species can be especially common around homes in Southeastern and South-Central United States.
The wood rat or pack rat, Neotoma spp., can be common around homes in the Southwestern states. Many native rodents might invade structures, such as taking insulation from crawlspaces for nesting material.
MYTH: RATS CAN GET AS BIG AS CATS.
A big Norway rat has a body about 8 inches long, with a tail nearly as long. Some so-called "rat" sightings in rural areas or along rivers and streams may have been other animals, such as muskrats.
MYTH: THE MICE THAT PEOPLE COMPLAIN ABOUT ARE ALL THE SAME SPECIES.
Most rodenticides are only labeled for control of Norway rats, roof rats and house mice. Don't create an off-label product use situation by failure to identify the rodent species before designing your control efforts.
MYTH: RATS AND MICE ARE NOCTURNAL (ONLY ACTIVE AT NIGHT).
Also, consider that rats and mice live in social groups where dominant animals may defend the best shelter, food areas and potential mates. Less-dominant individuals might be forced to be active at more-dangerous times, such as during the day. Regardless of the time, their eyes and ears are always alert to the slightest sounds or movements.
MYTH: IF YOU SEE RATS OR MICE IN THE DAYTIME, THERE MUST BE A LARGE POPULATION AROUND.
Rats and mice normally will move and forage about in the open much more extensively at night, but sightings are not a good indicator of how many rats or mice are living nearby.