There’s nothing worse than seeing you child being bitten by a rodent that’s made its way into your home, but it happens more often than we’d like to think.
Children are curious and playful – seeing a small, fuzzy creature scurrying along the floor or running for cover in your garden might just be enough to make them follow it or even try to pet it, and why wouldn’t they?
Rats and mice are such a common sight in pet stores that children have gotten used to seeing them as pets rather than pests. And while it’s true that both species can make for excellent pets, there are fundamental differences between the rats and mice that make their way into your home unwanted and the ones in store. Explaining to your children why you had to call a pest control technician to deal with them might be more difficult than it first seems, so we’ve put together a nice list of the key differences between the pets you can buy in store and the pests that are a nuisance in your home.
Rats and mice cause damage
Rodents need to get into your home somehow. Assuming there are no gaps or other easy entrances, they will be inclined to find a way in by chewing and scratching away at parts of your home that will allow them the easiest access and the damage won’t stop there.
Once inside, mice will look for anything they can use to build their nests. A home is a home after all, and it beats living out in the cold. They will start actively seeking out any kind of soft and pliable material, such as paper and string, to start building their nests with, and will happily gnaw through minor obstacles to get where they’re going.
Once the hunger kicks in, and with both species, it does so very often, they will start scavenging for food and chewing through easy packaging to get to it.
They carry diseases
If the thought of mice and rats eating your breakfast isn’t enough, remember that these are wild animals that have come from outside to enjoy free food and warmer conditions inside your home. Unfortunately, their natural environment is rife with diseases that the rodents can transmit to your pets and even to your family through direct contact, bites, droppings and in some cases even by inhaling dust that is contaminated with urine.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention list the following diseases that rodents regularly carry:
- Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome collapsed
- Hemorrhagic Fever with Renal Syndrome collapsed
- Lassa Fever collapsed
- Leptospirosis collapsed
- Lymphocytic Chorio-meningitis (LCM) collapsed
- Omsk Hemorrhagic Fever collapsed
- Plague collapsed
- Rat-Bite Fever collapsed
- Salmonellosis collapsed
- South American Arenaviruses (Argentine hemorrhagic fever, Bolivian hemorrhagic fever, Sabiá-associated hemorrhagic fever, Venezuelan hemorrhagic fever) collapsed
- Tularemia collapsed
When you buy a rodent as a pet in a store, they’re usually vaccinated against these diseases, but there is no guarantee with wild mice and rats.
They are very social creatures
One of the main reasons people like to get rats and mice as pets are their friendly nature. They are very much a social creature with complex social structures. That also means that when there’s a single rodent in your home, it won’t want to stay single for long.
Both species breed like few other animals. As Discover Magazine pointed out, if left unchecked, a pair of rats can end up producing about 2000 descendants in a year due to their active breeding and the early age at which rats become sexually active. Mice are as happy to mate as their larger counterparts.
While their social nature is good for those who want an active pet in their home, leaving a rat or a mouse alone can quickly become a growing problem that needs to be dealt with as soon as possible.
Wild rats and mice have no place in our homes
Throughout history rats and mice have been considered as pests than damage crops and invade homes. Today, there are an estimated 10.5 million rats in the UK with an unknown number of mice prowling around the fields, farms and suburbs.
In nature, mice and rats have an important role to play in the wider ecological system, keeping smaller mammals and insects at bay while being a part of the food chain for the larger predators. But indoors, they are an unwelcome pest that causes damage, spreads disease and produces more offspring to continue that legacy.
As mice as naturally curious, and will happily explore anything new in their paths – including toys left on the ground – they pose a real threat to your family. Rats, while more secluded, have been known to bite when feeling cornered, which means a trip to the GP is in order as they might carry dangerous bacteria.
While children will always be interested in the animals around them, it’s important to make them understand that not all animals are pets. We hope this blog has helped to shape the conversation you might have to have if rats or mice invade your home. And if they do, don’t hesitate to call us!