When we talk about rodents, we think of mice, squirrels and beavers, but the truth is that they constitute the most numerous class of mammals, with around 2000 species. We find several types of rodents all over the world, depending on the ecosystem that each species prefers. There are rodents with an aquatic propensity, others with a preference for the forest and still some that choose the desert.
The diet of rodents also varies according to the species, but there is one element that unites them: the dentition. All rodents have only one pair of incisors in the upper jaw and another in the lower, followed by a gap and one or more molars and premolars. None of them have more than four incisors and none have canines. And the most curious part? These incisor teeth never stop growing, being worn down as the animal gnaws on materials such as branches and wood bark.
What types of rats are there?
There are some rodent species that can be tamed and become pet rodents. Some of these species are the Twister Dumbo , the Gerbil and the famous hamsters. These types of rodents tend to be playful and docile which, along with the fact that they are small, makes them appealing as pets.
But there are other species of rodents that are not so welcome. Destruction of property and the spread of disease are two of the main reasons why rodents are one of the most destructive urban pests in the world.
➡️ House Rat
The domestic rat (or mouse) is a species that has adapted well to urban centers. Although they prefer to create burrows in the earth, we are increasingly finding house mice nesting in domestic environments such as homes and workspaces. With a reproduction capacity that is renewed every 28 days, each house mouse can have about 4 to 7 offspring at a time. In terms of eating habits, this animal eats a little bit of everything, but prefers seeds and cereals from which it extracts the only water it needs to survive. Like any rodent, house mice need constant gnawing to sharpen their teeth. That's why one of the first signs of a house rat infestation is the marks they leave on electrical cables, cabinets or packaging.
➡️ Field Mouse
The field mouse has a well-differentiated head from the body, with well-developed eyes and ears, a pointed snout and a long tail. They are small rodents, about 10 cm in body length. It is normal to find this species of rodent in woods and bushes, but also in agricultural areas, meadows and sometimes construction sites where it can camouflage and hide. This type of mouse feeds on the resources that are most abundant in its environment: seeds, plants, fungi, earthworms, snails, among others.
➡️ Black Rat or Roof Rat
These rodents are up to 21 cm long and can weigh up to 300 grams, so they are often mistaken for rats. They have thin fur, gray or black, large ears, paws with interdigital membranes and a thin tail that can measure up to 25 cm. They are nocturnal and, as the name implies, excellent climbers. The roof rat has a life expectancy of one and a half years and prefers to live in a group. Nests are found in attics, bushes, crevices and similar places.
➡️ Rato dos Lameiros or Rato da Água
Marsh rats have a more rounded snout than house rats, dark brown fur and a fur-covered tail, paws and ears. This species is known for being expert swimmers and divers who prefer not to live in large groups. We find nests of these rats next to cool and humid areas such as stream banks, meadows, grassy areas, or even next to cesspools and sewers.
🐁 What is the difference between a mouse and a vole?
As we saw above, all rodents have similar dentition and some of them share other traits such as color or size. But looking carefully at the characteristics of each species and understanding their habits is the best way to identify the pest we have in our hands. And when it comes to distinguishing mice from voles, there are a few elements that can help:
Physical distinctions between mouse and vole:
The ears of an adult mouse are larger than those of voles and the tail is longer than the body. A young rat has a head and feet larger than its body. Mice usually have a more pointed nose, while rats have a thicker nose. Rats are usually light gray or brownish in color with a lighter shade on the belly area. Voles have a lighter color under the tail.
Feeding habits of mice and rats:
The common vole prefers cereals and tends to cut the grains when eating them, giving them the appearance of slices. It always looks for food in the same places and drinks more water during the day than the mouse.
The black rat prefers fruit and is more difficult to control as it prefers to feed in different places every night.
The house mouse, on the other hand, can survive without water, but it crushes the grains when it consumes them. It prefers cereals and tends to always look for food in the same places.
Location of mouse and rat nests:
Common voles live in burrows or on the ground. Sometimes we see them outdoors and close to sewage systems, which explains some damage to plumbing. The common vole moves on the soles of its feet and leaves greasy stains on surfaces it walks on.
Black rats like a mild climate, so it's easy to find nests inside buildings, sometimes under roofs. This species of mouse moves with its toes, leaving spaced spots wherever it goes.
The house mouse prefers the ground, but they can also nest inside buildings. The infestation of house mice can take longer to be identified, since they remain in the same place for a long time, but they tend to leave more grease stains that, together with dirt and urine, can form small piles.
Mouse and rat droppings
Vole droppings are large (between 9 and 15 mm in length). They are brown, with a conical shape similar to rice grains.
The black rat produces long, thin droppings, but smaller than those of the vole. House mouse droppings vary from 3 to 8 mm in size, are granular and are often found close to nests.
There are several ways to identify a rat infestation, but knowing their habits and main characteristics allows you to identify the rodent species. Identification is essential to successfully controlling this urban pest — one of the most destructive in the world. If you suspect you have a rodent infestation at home or outside, we can help you recognize the signs of infestation and choose the right products to solve the problem.