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Rats Mice Rodents Indoor Outdoor Control

Mike's Pest Control Library

Roof Rat

A blackish (or brownish), medium-sized, slender rat with long, naked, scaly tail; tail usually longer than head and body but not always so. External measurements average: total length, 14 inches; tail, 7.5 inches; hind foot, 1.4 inches. Weight, up to 3/4 lb.


Roof rats live in close association with man. They seldom become established as feral animals as do the Norway rats.

They inhabit grocery and drug stores, warehouses, feed stores, and poultry houses and are very common in cotton gins and associated grain warehouses.

Roof Rat

They may live near the ground, but usually they frequent the attics, rafters, and crossbeams of the buildings. They make typical runways along pipes, beams or wires, up and down the studding, or along the horizontal ceiling joists, often leaving a dark-colored layer of grease and dirt to mark their travel ways.

Like the Norway rat, the roof rat is largely nocturnal and only where populations are relatively high does one see them frequently in the daytime.

They feed on a wide variety of food items, including grains, meats, and almost any item that has nutritional value.

Roof rats breed throughout the year, with two peaks of production - in February and March and again in May and June. The period of least activity is in July and August. The gestation period is approximately 21 days, and the number of young per litter averages almost seven. They mature rather rapidly, are weaned when about 3 weeks old, and are able to reproduce when approximately 3 months old.

The roof rat is destructive to property and foodstuffs. Also, it plays an important part in the transmission of such human diseases as endemic typhus, rat bite fever, and bubonic plague.

Norway Rat

Similar to the roof rat but larger and chunkier; tail shorter than length of head and body. External measurements average: total length, 18 inches; tail, 8 inches; hind foot, 2 inches. Weight, 14 - 18 oz.


The Norway, or Brown Rat lives both in close association with man and in the feral state, chiefly where vegetation is tall and rank and affords adequate protection. For example, the marshy lands on the coast of North Carolina offer ideal habitat for them.

Norway Rat

As a commensal this rat lives principally in basements, on the ground floor, or in burrows under sidewalks or outbuildings.

Although more at home on the ground, these rats are adept at climbing and have been observed traveling along telephone wires from one building to another. In places they become exceedingly numerous and destructive.

They feed on a variety of items including both plant and animal materials. All sorts of garbage appear to be welcome, but their main stay is plant material. Grains of various sorts are highly prized. When established around poultry houses, they feed extensively on eggs and young chickens. They even have been known to kill lambs and young pigs!

House Mouse

A small, scaly-tailed mouse with a distinct notch in the cutting surface of upper incisors (seen best in side view); hair short; ears moderately large and naked; upperparts ochraceous, suffused with black; belly buffy white, or buffy, usually without speckling and with slaty underfur; yellowish flank line usually present; tail brownish with black tip, not distinctly bicolor, but paler on underside; ears pale brown, feet drab or buffy, tips of toes white. Mammae in four or five pairs. External measurements average: total length, 6.5 inches; tail, 3.5 inches; hind foot, 3/4 inch. Weight of adults, 1/2 - 3/4 oz..


Although not native to North America the house mouse, since its early accidental introduction at most of our seaport towns, has become widespread throughout the United States and occurs either as a commensal or feral animal in practically all parts of the United States.

House Mouse

As commensal animals, house mice live in close association with man - in his houses, outbuildings, stores, and other structures. Where conditions permit, feral mice may be found in fields, along watercourses, and in other places where vegetation is dense enough to afford concealment. These feral animals make runways through the grass, or they may utilize runways made by rats and other meadow-inhabiting species. In the agricultural regions where irrigation is practiced house mice often are found in the vegetation along irrigation ditches, sometimes sharing common runways with native mice.

Although largely nocturnal, house mice are moderately active during the day, chiefly in their quest for food. In the wild they feed on a variety of plant material, including seeds, green stems, and leaves. Alfalfa hay, either in shocks or in stacks, affords an ideal source of food supply and, consequently, it is frequently infested with these mice.

House mice feed on practically any type of food suitable for the use of man or beast. They are particularly obnoxious around granaries, feed houses, and stores and may do considerable damage in destroying or contaminating food supplies intended for human consumption. In addition they will feed on such animal matter as insects and meat when available.

These mice are exceedingly prolific breeders. As many as 13 litters can be produced in one year. The number of young per litter averages about six. The gestation period is approximately 19 days, varying from 18 to 20. At birth the young mice are nearly naked with their eyes and ears closed. They develop rapidly; at the age of 3 weeks they are fully weaned and at the age of 4 weeks some of the young females are ready to assume family duties, although the average age of sexual maturity is about 35 days in females and 60 days in males. With commensurable, breeding occurs throughout the year although it is somewhat curtailed in the colder months. In the wild state breeding appears to be restricted to the period from early June to late fall.

Although these mice are destructive when allowed to run free, they are widely used in laboratories as subjects for biological, genetic, and medical studies. When ranging free, however, they do a considerable amount of damage although they are not nearly so troublesome as the introduced rat.

Gophers/ Pocket Gophers

Most people are extremely aware of how destructive and troublesome gophers are in lawns and ornamental plantings. Most gardeners and landscapers use traps and poison baits to deal with the problem, but these methods are time consuming and sometimes ineffective-especially in severely infested areas.

When it comes to gophers, burrow fumigation is one of the fastest and most effective extermination methods available, making it possible to dramatically improve the condition of the property in a short amount of time. The fumigant infiltrates the entire burrow system, killing the gopher within a few hours and then dissipates completely, leaving no pesticide residue. This is a great method to use if you have safety concerns about pets because 24 hours after treatment, your yard is pesticide free. The fumigant has does not harm or contaminate your plants.

In certain situations (such as very light, sandy, or porous soil), we sometimes prefer to use a grain-based, poison bait product. We have invented some tools and techniques that allow us to be extremely effective using this method. However, if you have a dog that likes to dig up and eat dead rodents, this is not an option due to secondary poisoning concerns.

Gophers are rodents and strict herbivores. They eat a variety of plants, roots, stems, bark, fruits, vegetables, seeds, and nuts.

Gophers dig extensive underground tunnel systems complete with main tunnels, nesting chambers, food storage chambers, and fecal chambers. When the gopher is extending his tunnel system the excess dirt is pushed out in horseshoe or volcano shaped mounds. Gopher dirt has a characteristic, finely piled texture that is unique to the species.

When a gopher breaks the surface to feed, he will plug the hole up when finished. This mound may barely rise above the level of the surrounding soil. Gophers plug the entrances to their burrows for the same reasons that we close our doors and windows- to keep out intruders and to control the environment (light, airflow, temperature, and humidity.) Gophers basically tunnel to the surface for two reasons: to feed or to push out excess dirt. That is why you will see small "puffs" of dirt in some places (feeding holes) and large horseshoe or volcano shaped mounds in other places. See the picture below for examples of both.

Gophers rarely leave their burrows. They are anti-social and territorial with only one gopher living in each tunnel system. Once a female has raised a litter, the young are forced out to seek their own territory. In an area that has a high number of gophers it is fairly common for a new gopher to take over an undefended burrow system.

The term gopher is often used in other parts of the country to mean other digging critters such as prairie dogs. But in Gulf Coast Texas,we have true gophers, also called pocket gophers because they have pouches extending down from each side of their face in which they stuff food. There are over 100 species of pocket gopher in North America.

Gophers are sometimes confused with moles but with a little information, it is easy to tell the difference. See Moles below.


Moles are not nearly as big a problem for most parts of Houston and Galveston County as gophers are. Our moles are fairly small compared to mole species found in other parts of the country. They are brown or black and may not be much bigger than your thumb.

Mole are not rodents and are not related to gophers. Moles are insectivores. They consume large quantities of earthworms and other insects. Like gophers they spend their lives underground but, unlike gophers, they do not eat plants. Moles dig a deep tunnel system for sleeping and security. Small volcano shaped mounds of soil may be pushed to the surface as a result. Mole dirt is clumpy compared to gopher dirt.

Moles do not break the surface to feed. Rather, they build shallow tunnels that run just under the surface of the soil. These appear as snake-like ridges in the lawn or garden with a characteristic crack running the along the top. It is common for these ridges to run along the edge of a driveway or some other hard scape feature. These feeding tunnels create gaps in the root zone of small bedding plants and turf, depriving the plants of moisture. Insects fall down from the "roof" of the tunnel and get scooped up by the mole.

There are many bait products on the market that claim to control both gophers and moles. I find this amusing because these products are usually grain based and moles don't eat grain.

There is a great new product available to pest control professionals that really works on moles. We have been using it for a while now with excellent results.

Rats and Mice

Rats and mice are a year-round problem in our Houston and Galveston landscape. If allowed to breed unchecked in the landscape, they often seek food and shelter inside buildings.

The best approach is to keep rodent populations low outside. Pet food, bird seed, vegetable gardens, fruit and nut trees, and snails are all favorite foods of rats and mice. Always store pet food and bird seed in rodent proof containers and avoid leaving pet food out at night. If you suspect you have a rat or mouse problem, we strongly recommend that you deal with it quickly. The damage they do can be a lot more expensive than the cost to exterminate them. Quick action can also help you avoid serious odors and health threats associated with rats and mice.

In most situations we can exterminate rats and mice even around pets. We will work with you so that we understand your pet"s habits and tendencies in order to keep them safe while getting rid of the rodents.

Rats Mice Rodents Indoor Outdoor Control Photos

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