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Category: Rats

Pest of the Month: Rats!

Pest of the Month-RatsWas there ever a mammal more reviled and maligned than the rat? First to leave the ship, the nickname for anyone who acts in their own interest at the expense of others, accused of spreading disease (even when they don’t). Even animal rights activists don’t get as riled up when they’re used for scientific testing as they do about other, cuter animals. In fact, any sympathy they get is mostly from that Pixar film.

And to be sure, some of the criticism is well-earned. They are well-known to be scavengers. They have helped circulate some diseases – 35 according to the CDC – in populated areas, just not the Black Plague. That particular outbreak was likely caused by another rodent renowned for evil – or maybe not – the Gerbil. Rats eat their own feces – apparently for its nutritional value. They also can’t control their bladders. As they walk, they dribble urine everywhere.

A Problem of Perception

So it might surprise you to find out that rats are actually some of the cleanest animals around. They can spend several hours a day on their grooming. They’re actually less likely to catch or transmit diseases than dogs and cats!

They’re also incredibly loyal, loving, and community-oriented animals. A single rat will get despondent if left without companionship. By the same token, they suffer some of the same social complications as humans do – being bullied, succumbing to peer pressure, often eating new things just because all the other rats are doing it.

But as a community – known as a mischief – they care for their sick and injured, have dreams while sleeping, and make laughing sounds when they play.

It’s rumored that both Queen Victoria and Peter Rabbit creator Beatrix Potter kept rats as pets. And along with Laika & Ham the Astrochimp, one of the first mammals in space was a brown rat, launched by France.

Clone Wars?

When scientists started seriously studying genetic diversity and cloning, they began by inbreeding rats, brother to sister, for 300 generations. The resulting rats were 99% genetically identical, even closer than we’ve yet been able to achieve with cloning.

One of the reasons that rats seem to be everywhere is because of their mating schedule. A female rat can mate as many as – wait for it – 500 times the 6 hour period that she’s in the mood. And she gets feeling that way about every 3.5 weeks. So in the average rats lifespan of 2-3 years, she can produce somewhere between 4 and 18 THOUSAND descendants.  That might explain how they originated in Asia and Australia but conquered the rest of the world long before man did.

Despite that, there are 7 species of rats on the Endangered Species list.

Smarter Than They Look

Their eyesight is poor, so rats use their whiskers and scent organs in their feet to find their way around. Rats are more intelligent than rabbits, hamsters, mice, gerbils and guinea pigs. They can learn their own name and once they’ve solved a maze, they never forget which way to go. Maybe we should harness them for our GPS’s!

Did you know rats are trained to detect land mines without setting them off? They’ve even trained some to drag cable through walls for electricians.

Recent Reputation

Rats weren’t always a harbinger of doom. In Rome they were considered good luck; they’re one of the more positive signs on the Chinese Zodiac, and to this day there’s a Hindu temple in India where pilgrims come to worship and feed the rats.

Other Fun Facts:

  • Rats chew through everything in an attempt to wear down their long teeth that never stop growing. You might say that they’re in a perpetual teething period.
  • A rat can go longer than a camel without having a drink of water.
  • Rats’ tails help them to balance while climbing and regulate their body temperature since they can’t sweat.

But despite all the really cool things about rats, we know most people don’t want to see them in their homes – especially if they’re not pets! A rat can squeeze through a hole the size of a quarter, so it’s important to closely check your home if you happen upon one of the wild rodents inside. Or simply call an expert like us.

We’ll exclude all visible entry points and seal your roof vents with our proprietary covers. We then eliminate the rats or mice already in your home and set up hidden bait stations around the outside perimeter to minimize the potential intruders.

Or you can take it one step further and get our Thermal Acoustical Pest Control (TAP). It keeps insects as well as rodents out, helps soundproof your home, and is a high efficiency insulation that is not only more effective than the pink stuff, but far less dangerous for your family.  Give us a call and we can help you figure out which program is best for you!

How Do Bugs Think: A Guest Editorial

How to Think Like a BugSo, the nice folks at Good News Pest Solutions asked me if I’d be willing to talk to you about what it’s really like to be a bug. So I thought about it and I figured, with all the misinformation and fake news out there about me and my insect brothers and sisters, why not tell people the truth for once. Let them hear it from the horsefly’s mouth, as it were. And these guys aren’t like a lot of the other pest control guys out there. I mean, instead of dousing or baiting me with nasty chemicals that are as dangerous for you as they are for me, they were nice enough to use natural means. It still got rid of me, but I figured they’d at least print the truth as I see it. So here goes.

First things first, we are not as bad as we’ve been made out to be. We just want to live in harmony with you, share your homes, your yards! With that in mind, in the spirit of cooperation, here are a few suggestions to make both our lives easier…

So, About That Trash…

It smells SO good, don’t you think? Why else would you leave it out to mold and rot than to set free that delicious aroma?! Now some of you don’t leave your trash for us to smell and feed off of. Why wouldn’t you do that? I mean, you don’t want it anymore! Yes, we know what the word trash means, and frankly, if you’re not using it, why not let us enjoy it?

Oh, and one more thing. There are a few of you out there – you know who you are – who wash the smell right out of those cans, sometimes even with bleach! That’s really not very nice, and we’d really appreciate it if you could do us all a favor and let it linger. Thanks so much!

A Little Food For Thought

And while we’re on the subject, what’s the deal with washing your dishes as soon as you’ve used them? Don’t you know how much good flavor there is, even in the dregs. We’re little guys, we don’t eat that much; is it too much to ask you give us a day or two to wipe your plates for you?

It’s really a time saver, if you think about it. Yes, we see you rinsing the plates and bowls before you put them in the dishwasher – honestly, we don’t get it, isn’t the whole point of having a dishwasher that it washes the dishes? Your language doesn’t always make sense to us, but if you need someone to sponge off the excess food, we’re here to help!

Don’t Forget Your Pets!

We love your furry friends – and not just the ones who let us hang out in their cozy coats. But we’ve noticed that a lot of you only feed them once or twice a day! We always thought you guys considered dogs and cats members of your family. But it must not be true. You and your kids get to pillage that vast cold box whenever you like, so why not leave food and water out for your four legged children too? Sure we’ll munch on a little ourselves, but we’ve had a mutual-aid agreement deal with the animal kingdom even longer than you have!

Things Are Looking Up

On another note, we’d like to thank you for making sure we always have a way to get into the house. We get why you lock your doors, but we’re not going to steal your valuables and we appreciate all the vents, and gaps in your seals, the eaves access. It’s really helpful and we like knowing the attic is always open for us. Our good friends the rats and mice enjoy it too.

Now, we have heard that some of you have started to add more insulation and sealing everything in your attics up. Sure, we all want to save some electricity, but really, is the savings really worth risking our lives? Aren’t we worth a little extra consideration?

Outside’s Nice Too

Okay, if we have to, we can live outside too. It’s kind of like camping! If we can make one simple, small request, though… We love plants and everything about them. You do too! Lots of vegetation gives us plenty of organic snacks, dry leaves to snuggle down into, and lets us feel like we’re practically in the house.

Which reminds me, make sure those plants go right up against your house. We promise we’ll try really hard to avoid the temptation of sneaking into your house. Honest! You can trust me.

Oh, and if it’s not too much trouble, a little water is always nice. We don’t need a bowl of our own, or even a steady stream. Most of you have leaky faucets and broken sprinkler heads. All we ask is that you don’t fix them so we can continue to enjoy the much needed moisture. Besides, you’re already paying for it, and really, what’s the true value of maintaining our newly established symbiotic relationship?

Thanks again for taking the time to learn what we’re really all about. And thanks to Good News Pest Solutions for offering this forum. If you really must be rid of us, give them a call.

Are Mice Causing Asthma in Schools?

Mice and AsthmaWhen temperatures start to drop, most warm blooded creatures– ourselves included – tend to seek out places and situations where they’ll stay a bit warmer.

If you’ve been in Florida for more than a few months, you’ll mysteriously find, regardless of where you came from, that you have a lower threshold for colder weather, even when the mercury is only dropping below 60-degrees.

Living in Florida causes physiological changes, that, combined with higher humidity, causes us to feel like 50 degrees around here is like 32 in Ohio, Michigan or Indiana.

What you may not know is that we’re not alone in this phenomenon. All mammals on the Gulf Coast of Florida: dogs, cats, mice and rats feel the “chill,” and subsequently also seek to bundle up if they can or move into places where it’s warmer. And thanks to our own adjusted cold tolerance, those places are often our homes, our schools and our churches.

An unfortunate side effect of the rodents seeking shelter is the spread of various allergens carried on their fur into the buildings, especially those with centralized heating and cooling systems.

Is There A Connection Between Mice and Asthma?

According to the CDC, more than 6-million kids suffer from asthma, including 17% of black children.

In the past, scientists and doctors studied the primary place where kids spend most of their time – their homes (and even their yards, although that’s less frequent these days).

And while there are many different allergy triggers that can be encountered in life, recent studies seem to show that kids who develop asthma and asthma like symptoms do so after being exposed to these allergens in their secondary home – their schools.

While the researchers are quick to point out there is no clear causal relationship between mouse-borne allergens and asthma, they did discover that they are universally present in schools. Further, in the inner city schools they tested, those with higher levels of mice-related allergens suffered symptoms at least one more day a week than kids in the other schools.

Other allergens, like dog and cat dander and dust mites were also found, but at much smaller levels and none of them appeared to increase the chance of asthma like the mouse-related allergens.

Further studies are being planned, but it seems clear that limiting exposure to mice, however cute, and the allergens they carry is important to help control asthma. Scientists will look into improving the air quality in schools and taking steps to control the pests by removing clutter and sealing up building cracks.

Of course, you can also take steps to control the exposure of your family to the allergens these rodents carry by taking steps at home.  Good News Pest Solutions has been recognized as the Gulf Coast’s leading expert on keeping rats and mice out of your house and in reducing the rodent population outdoors as well. We guarantee your property for a year after treatment and, like all our solutions, employ environmentally safe alternatives to harmful chemicals. Contact us to find out more today!

Romantic Rats Ruin Parisian Parks

Rats in ParisMost folks like to do something special for New Year’s Eve – shoot off some fireworks, drop in at Disney, maybe even brave the crowd in Times Square to watch the ball drop. But one prime celebration location is suffering from an ages-old infestation that the most romantic city in the world just can’t get a handle on – the Parisian rat population.

We all remember from our history classes that the nasty little rodents spread the Bubonic plague – in fact, recent examinations of history have proven that the Black Death of the 1300’s that ravaged close to half of the population of Paris was not spread by rats and other rodents, although most people still assume they were to blame. Given their history, it’s no surprise that, despite the Pixar film, most rats are still not welcome at Parisian dinner tables.

Yet, despite the city government’s pledge to completely “de-raticize” the Renaissance tourist attraction in 2014, it’s apparently more visibly infested than ever before, forcing the closing of nine popular parks in the City of Light – including the famous Parc du Champ-de-Mars, home of the Eiffel Tower. In fact, animal control officers say this is the worst the city has seen in almost 40 years.

And there’s a reason that we said a visible problem – it appears the rats are overrunning the above ground city because of a huge overpopulation below ground. Now there’s something you don’t want to hear, especially if you were planning a trip to the city’s historic catacombs. And the most popular plan of attack? To drive the rats back into the sewers – not, we’re thinking, a viable solution to stopping the spread of a disease, should that recur.

The problem is apparently, two-fold – new European regulations, meant to mirror ones in the United States, changed the way rats were poisoned, as the old ways could also lead to water contamination as well as being accidentally ingested by curious pets and children. So now the rats have to seek out the poisoned bait in enclosed boxes – a lot harder draw for the rodents who can easily find a smorgasbord fit for the Rat King in open garbage pails.

In fact, in the weeks since the new regulations took effect, not a single rat has ventured into the boxes of death – and the ready supply of food means the rats can continue to reproduce at an alarming rate. Rats can mate every 3 weeks, producing a litter of 4-5 baby rats, and those newly born babies can get pregnant themselves within 6-9 weeks.

What’s worse – even if the rats in Paris’ past (Rattus rattus) didn’t spread the Black Death, their distant Asian cousins– Rattus norvegicus – which was responsible for the Modern Plague in the 1860’s, arrived in the French capital about 200 years ago and are now the dominant species as well as known spreaders of salmonella and swamp fever.

Still, the Parisian animal control people do believe the rats have a place in their city – just out of sight. When properly maintained, the rats work well as composting agents, devouring waste that would otherwise need to be disposed of, and their furry little bodies – they also work great as pipe cleaners. Once again proving that every living creature has its own God-given purpose. Who knew? 🐭

If you see rats in your home or on your property, give us a call. Good News Pest Solutions has been recognized as the Gulf Coast’s leading expert on keeping rats and mice out of your home and in reducing the rodent population outdoors as well. We guarantee your property for a year after treatment and, like all our solutions, employ biologically safe alternatives to harmful chemicals that protect your pets and family while eliminating the pests. Contact us today!

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