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Critters in the News

  • "Wild Pigs are becoming
    larger and  more
    aggressive"-                   
    DISCOVERY CHANNEL
  • "House Fire in
    Altemonte Springs
    caused by squirrels"-
    ORLANDO SENTINEL
  • "Raccoons attack
    woman in Lakeland"-
    TAMPA SUN TIMES
  • "Rats overrun Orlando
    International Airport
    despite efforts to
    erradicate them"-   
    LAKE MARY REPORTER
  • "New Orleans 2 Year Old
    dies from blood loss
    caused by rat bites"-      
    PCT MAGAZINE
As the animal experts, critter 911
has been on the news
repeatedly... click a white rat
below to see us on your favorite
news station
news video of us trapping & removing wild pigs in Lake Nona, FL
news video of exotic animal pest control in Mount Dora, FL
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Rats & mice

Solving an infestation problem involving rats or mice, is complicated at best... and since the rodents have managed to adapt
to and overcome each and every new technology found to combat them, the control methods we use must reflect an
understanding of the commensal rodents' (rats & mice) habitat requirements, reproductive capabilities, food habits, life
history, behavior, senses, movements, and the dynamics of its population structure. Without this knowledge, both time and
money are wasted, and the chances of failure are greatly increased.

The 3 commensal (adept at living with humans) rodents most responsible for infestations and the accompanying damage
found in the Orlando-Kissimmee metropolitan area are all of the family murinae:

  1. The Roof Rat (rattus rattus) a smaller, long tailed rat with prominent ears, a brown & gray back and a light gray belly.
    The roof rat is the primary culprit at work in home damage in this area of Florida.
  2. The Norway Rat (rattus norvegicus) a large blunt headed rat with a tail shorter than its body, small ears and brown
    and gray mottling on its back and light brown on it's belly. The Norway rat is rare in Central Florida but is the primary
    culprit in infestations up north.
  3. The House Mouse (mus musculus) very small rodent with pointed snout, longer tail and gray and white coloring.  The
    house mouse is rarely seen in the Central Florida area- Apopka is the most notable exception and we deal with mice
    in homes in Apopka, Mt Dora & Eustice on a regular basis.

These species originated in Asia and spread throughout the world bringing with them disease and devastation. Our primary
rodent problem here in Orlando and the rodent we will be focused on in this article, the roof rat is notorious in history for
being the vector for bubonic plague transmission in Europe during the middle ages.

It's more recent history involves it's transplantation to North America where it is estimated to cause billions of dollars in
damage to people, homes & businesses each year by spreading diseases, causing fires, water damage, food contamination,  
and many other stresses on societies.

Habitat

Roof rats are comfortable occupying both above ground (arboreal), on ground (terrestrial), and below ground
(subterranean) nesting sites and are amazingly adaptive to any habitat that can provide sufficient harborage and food.  
Once rats or mice find an entry point into homes, businesses, or multi unit buildings and become established, they readily
breed and thrive. They have also been found living in sewer systems.

Food Habits

Roof Rats are omnivorous and, if necessary, will feed on almost anything, although they can be surprisingly picky when a
variety of food is available. Roof rats usually require water daily, though their local diet may provide an adequate amount if
it is high in water content.

Reproduction and Development

Rodents, rats and mice, are the most successful mammalian reproducers. The young are born about 3 weeks after mating
and the female is ready to reproduce again almost immediately after giving birth. The number of litters depends on food
availability, population and season- in Florida they seem to breed all year.

New rats are sexually mature and ready to reproduce the next generation of rats in as little as 60-90 days and with each rat
producing 6-8 offspring, one mated pair can engender 20,000 offspring in one year.

Foraging Behavior

Rats usually start foraging shortly after sunset. Food items that are too big to be eaten on the spot are carried to a
protected location for consumption and when food is plentiful some food is stored in caches near the rats nest.

This hoarding behavior is why rats can survive in a sealed up home or business for a surprisingly long time. Roof rats have a
strong tendency to avoid new objects in their environment and this neophobia can influence control efforts, for it may take
several days before they will approach a bait station or trap and since they have access to hoarded food, traps with food
attractants are much less attractive unless properly placed.

When necessary, roof rats will travel considerable distances. They may live in the landscaping of one residence and feed at
another. They can often be seen at night running along overhead utility lines or fences. They may live in trees, such as
palm, or in attics, and climb down to a food source. Traditional baiting or trapping on the ground or floor may intercept
very few roof rats unless bait and/or traps are placed at the very points that rats traverse from above to a food resource.

Rat Senses

Rats rely on keen senses to navigate and survive in a world where they are the basis of the food chain... but, as rats have
evolved, the senses they have developed have allowed them to become the second most successful mammal on earth.   

  • sight- least developed of the rats senses, they are color blind.
  • smell- they use their keen sense of smell to locate and select food items, identify territories and travel routes, and
    recognize other rats, especially those of the opposite sex.
  • hearing- their keen sense of hearing also aids in their ability to detect and escape danger.
  • touch- rats use their acute sense of touch to explore their world... their long, sensitive whiskers (vibrissae) near
    their nose and the guard hairs on their body are used as tactile sensors. The whiskers and guard hairs enable the
    animals to travel adjacent to walls in the dark and in burrows.
  • taste- rats have a strong sense of taste as well and they will carefully select what they eat when more than one
    foodstuff is available.

Roof rats have evolved to be these highly adaptable engines of destruction, and they use the senses developed through
millenia to control outcomes to their advantage... due to their highly developed senses, roof rats can taste 1 particle in
millions, move rapidly through low light environments, and locate and consume approximately 1/3 of the food produced on
the planet. They are so successful, that even though man has spent more resources to eradicate them than has been spent
on AIDs, heart disease or cancer they have still managed to cause more human death than any other mechanism on this
planet short of aging.

Signs of Rodent Infestation

Signs that rat infestation is under way may be difficult to spot until the population of roof rats have reached a critical mass
that forces individual rats to take risks that give away their presence. The signs reported by our clients:

  • scratching or chewing noise in areas of the attic.
  • smudge marks (the result of oil and dirt rubbing off of their fur as they brush up against objects as they move from
    one place to another).
  • dogs or cats paying undue attention to the attic, wall voids and crawl spaces.
  • droppings, urine, or tracks on the floor.
  • chewed through food containers or water bottles.
  • actual damage (i.e. water leaks from gnawed plumbing, loss of cooling in certain rooms and/or insulation being found
    blowing out of air vents, lights & electrical sockets not working etc.).
  • chewing on citrus and other fruit and vegetable plants.
  • flu and/or allergy like symptoms including asthma, bronchitis & other respiratory ailments.
  • recurring parasitic infestations of the home or business (primarily fleas and ticks).

There can be no doubt that rodents are one if not the most costly of pests that affect greater Orlando and Central
Florida... they cause damage into the tens of millions of dollars and as we grow as a state their commensal nature will allow
them to grow right along with us.

Diseases

Rodents (rats & mice), according to the CDC are the transmission vector for a number of human diseases, including murine
typhus, rabies, leptospirosis, salmonellosis (food poisoning), rat-bite fever, and plague to name just a few. Rats are also
capable of transmitting a number of diseases to domestic animals. Rats and/or mice need not come in contact with you or
your pest to transmit diseases... they leave fecal pellets, dander, urine crystals and fleas & ticks which have fed on rat
and/or mouse blood which then feed on you or your pets, transferring the diseases in such low contact mechanisms.
Get rid of rats, mice, squirrels, raccoons,
opossums, bats, birds, bees, wasps, moles ,
gophers, armadillos, wild hogs, snakes or any
critter from a to z- Stop the noises in your attic.
Protect your home, family & business!
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