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MICE AND RATS ARE NOT THE ONLY PEST “RODENTS”

By Chris Williams on October 26, 2017.

October 22-28 is Rodent Awareness Week. For the fourth straight year, the Professional Pest Management Alliance (PPMA) is urging pest control companies and others working in pest management to use this designation to help educate consumers about the diseases and dangers of rodents. So, I’m going to try to do my part with a little background info on rodents.

Do you know what we mean by “rodents?” Most people understand that both rats and mice are in the mammal group called rodents (Order Rodentia). Within this group, it’s the commensal or domestic rodents (house mouse and brown rat, mostly) that the PPMA is concerned about because these are the rodents that make up a good part of the business of a pest control company. Even within the rats and mice (Family Muridae), there are many species that we never interact with because they don’t live with or near people or they are found in unique, isolated environments.

“I DIDN’T KNOW BEAVERS WERE RODENTS!”

Worldwide, there are 2,230 different species of rodents that make up about 43% of all mammals. In addition to mice and rats, some of our more familiar rodents are listed below:

• Chipmunk
• Vole
• Squirrel
• Woodchuck or groundhog
• Porcupine
• Nutria
• Muskrat
• Prairie dog
• Gopher
• Beaver

Why is a woodchuck a rodent but a raccoon is not? They seem pretty similar in size and habits. Why is a beaver a “rodent” but a badger is not? Why a vole but not a mole? I have the answer, at least from a biologist’s viewpoint.

WHAT MAKES A RODENT A RODENT?

Like other small mammals, rodents are covered with hair (not feathers), give birth to living young and nurse those young. The primary rodent distinctions though concern teeth that are specially adapted for gnawing. Rodents lack canine teeth but have an upper and lower pair of powerful enlarged incisors that grow continuously. They also have a complex jaw musculature to aid in gnawing. Animals without this combination of features don’t belong in the Rodent grouping.

All of the rodents listed above have pest potential. Even though they don’t live directly in our homes, these rodents may live in or around our homes where they can cause damage. Some of them are protected species, so control measures may be limited to habitat modification or may require a special permit.

Whether you are being visited by house mice, harassed by a gnawing squirrel, or are battling a burrowing woodchuck, Colonial Pest is equipped to address your rodent problem. We can take care of smaller rodents inside your home and we have certified nuisance wildlife experts on staff for the larger rodents outside. Give us a call!

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