Rats and mice can cause significant damage to your home or place of business. In addition, they can spread over 70 different diseases through food contamination or indirectly with the fleas and mites that live on them.
For a rat or mice infestation, contact the pest control professionals at Sentinel today: (253) 538-2576
Common rats found in Washington State.
There are two types of rats that are found in Washington State, the roof rat (Rattus rattus) and the Norway rat (Rattus norvegicus).
Both species were introduced to North America many years ago by settlers coming by ship from Europe. Rats cause substantial damage to buildings, landscapes, are directly responsible for the transmission of over 70 diseases and are linked closely to the plague. Roof rats and Norway rats differ from one another in range, appearance, habitat selection and feeding behavior.
Range: The Norway rat has spread throughout the United States and usually lives at lower elevations, but can be found anywhere humans live. The roof rat is generally found in coastal regions of the United States, and in Washington almost always on the west side of the state.
Appearance: Roof rats are smaller than Norway rats and are much more agile climbers. They have a wide range of colors, but in the Pacific Northwest tend to be black to dark grey. The roof rat has a slender body, prominent ears, large eyes and a tail that is longer than the head and body combined. The adult roof rat weighs approximately 8-12 ounces, has a total head and body length of 6-8 inches and a tail length of 7-10 inches.
Slightly larger and stockier, the Norway rat is sometimes called the brown rat, wharf rat or sewer rat. This rat most often has brownish fur with a white/grey belly. It has a blunt nose, small eyes, short ears and weighs approximately 1 pound. The Norway rat has a body length of 7-9.5 inches and a tail length of 6-8 inches.
Habitat: Regardless of their preferred habitat, rats live in close proximity to people. Depending on the species, they climb or burrow to make nests in buildings and structures, under concrete slabs, near stream banks, in trees and garbage dumps, and anywhere else that suitable food, water and shelter is available. The Norway rat will typically be found nesting in burrows, crawl spaces, sewers, cellars and other locations closer to the ground. The roof rat, however, tends to be more aerial in nature. They often live in attics, walls, vine-covered fences and trees.
Feeding Habits: Rats are opportunistic feeders and considered omnivores. A rat will eat nearly any type of food, but generally has a nutritious diet if given the chance. The Norway rat prefers a diet consisting of meats and fish, whereas the roof rat prefers fruits, nuts, cereals and grains. If feeding on dry foods a rat requires ½ – 1 ounce of water every day. Less water is needed if the rat is feeding on moist foods. Household garbage items offer a great source of nutrition and will usually satisfy moisture needs. Therefore, proper sanitation is a necessary control measure for rodents.
Damage: Rats are capable of causing substantial amounts of damage to homes, businesses, landscapes and stores of food. Rodents are said to be the leading cause of electrical fires in structures. They chew on wires, plumbing, pipes, plastic, concrete, wood and a variety of other items. Such behavior stems from the need to keep their teeth worn down. A rat’s urine and feces can also contaminate food and spread disease. A substantial amount of the damage and contamination caused by rats can be found in a building’s crawl space and/or attic. Rats tear up and contaminate insulation and vapor barrier in an effort to construct nests. Many electrical wires, water lines and heat ducts are damaged by rats chewing as well. Sentinel has diversified its services and now offers crawl space and attic restoration and decontamination.
Rat-borne Disease: Rats can spread over 70 different diseases! The Plague that once killed millions of people in Europe, Africa and Asia was transmitted to humans by flea infested rats. It should be noted that no serious outbreak of the plague has been documented in the United States since the mid 1920’s. However, a reservoir of the disease does still live in rodents of the western states and can be transmitted to humans through the bite of rat fleas. Fleas have been harvested from trapped rats in Tacoma as recently as the 1970’s. Other diseases associated with rats include salmonella, trichinosis, leptospirosis, toxoplasmosis, murine typhus fever and rickettsia pox. For more information click here.
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