Rats and mice are rodents, and they tend to scavenge what food they can find. There are several species of mice native to Britain, some of which live in houses and others in the wild. Rats are larger than mice and have shorter tails, but they can be serious carriers of infectious diseases.
Mice and rats are rodents, so they have two continually growing incisor teeth, which they must keep down by gnawing. Britain has several mouse species, including the domestic mouse, harvest mouse and wood mouse. Domestic mice are smelly and have greasy fur. They scavenge scraps. They generally live within a few feet of their food supply and are quick to move on when it fails. Mice have long tails and highly visible ears.
Mice as pests
The problem with the house mouse is that it leaves its droppings and its urine. Mouse droppings can carry diseases and parasites. Furthermore, they sometimes gnaw through wires and therefore, can cause electrical failures or even fire. Field mice sometimes come into human habitation during cold winters, but leave when it is warmer.
Getting rid of mice
Mouse traps work. The traditional bait is cheese, but mice prefer peanut butter. The most effective way is to ensure that no food is left lying around and that scraps are put away, then the mice will leave of their own accord. Blocking up mouse holes is an effective technique. A cat is always an effective defence against mice.
Description of rats
The two main rat species in Britain are black and brown rats, the brown being more common. Rats are scavengers, but unlike mice, they are omnivores and eat waste meat, which is why they are often seen round untidy fast food outlets.
They are generally not aggressive to humans and avoid human company if possible, but they fight if they are in danger. Rats like to live in larger groups than mice do, and sometimes, you can be infested with many of them.
Dangers of rats
The dangers that rats pose comes from rat feces and urine. They urinate every few minutes and so, soil the areas where they live. Rat urine can carry Weil's disease, a deadly virus requiring urgent medical attention. Rats can also pick up germs from the places in which they live, for example, sewers, and transmit them. It was the black rat which is thought to have carried the plague in the fourteenth century.
Rat extermination uses rat poison and traps. However, some rats are becoming immune to the poison and fresh poisons are having to be introduced. A good terrier will deal with a rat.