Common Questions about Rodents

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Rodents… some people love them and keep them as pets, some people disdain them as troublesome pests, and still others are terrified of them. As pest professionals, Thomas Pest Services advises that rodents are not cute, but dangerous critters. Below are a few common rodent questions that the average consumer may wonder or may not know.

Question #1: What is the characteristic defining feature of rodents (order Rodentia)?

  • A. Their very long tails
  • B. Their ability to climb.
  • C. Their continuously-growing teeth.
  • D. Their small, rounded ears

Rodents’ teeth are specialized for gnawing. Rodents have incisors, on the upper jaw and on the lower; these teeth grow continuously throughout their life, and must be kept short and sharp through gnawing.

Question #2: What percent of all mammal species are rodents?

  • A. 5%
  • B. 10%
  • C. 20%
  • D. 40%

A whopping 40% of mammal species are rodents: there are approximately 2,277 different species of rodents, out of 5,702 known mammal species

Question #3: About how many households in the U.S. live with pet rats or mice?

  • A. 100,000
  • B. 250,000
  • C. 500,000
  • D. 1 million

According to the Rat Assistance & Teaching Society, roughly half a million households have pet rats or mice. (Estimates for other rodent pets like gerbils and hamsters are less precise.) Mice are often curious and social companions, while rats can be very sweet, personable, and intelligent.

Question #4: Which of the following diseases can be directly transmitted by rodents? (Choose 1-4 answers.)

  • A. Hantavirus
  • B. Rabies
  • C. Bubonic plague
  • D. Rat-bite fever

Hantavirus is spread through contact with rodent waste products; recently, there has been a surprising outbreak of this dangerous disease in California’s Yosemite National Park.

Rabies is more often spread by bites from rabid animals like dogs, raccoons, or skunks; however, it can be spread by infected groundhogs (which are rodents). However, smaller rodents like squirrels, rats, and mice are rarely infected and are not known to transmit rabies to humans in the U.S.

Rat-bite fever is a rare bacterial disease, most common in Japan, that is spread by an infected rodent’s bite, urine, or mucous secretions.

Bubonic plague is often attributed to rats, but it is actually caused by infected fleas. These fleas live on mice, rats, and sometimes other mammals; when there is an outbreak of plague within the rodent population, the fleas catch the infection but are unharmed by it. After their original rodent host dies, they move on to other rodents or to humans, thus spreading the disease.

(This doesn’t mean that you should assume that a wild rodent is disease-carrying; however, give them a respectful distance!)

Question #5: Which of these animals is not a type of rodent?

  • A. Beaver
  • B. Shrew
  • C. Porcupine
  • D. Squirrel

Beavers, porcupines, and squirrels are all types of rodents. Although they appear similar to rodents, shrews are not, because their teeth are short and spiky, and do not continuously grow throughout their lives.

Question #6: Rats can do which of the following?:

  • A. Fall 50 feet (5 stories or 15 meters) without injury
  • B. Survive being flushed down a toilet
  • C. Fit through openings the diameter of a quarter
  • D. Gnaw through concrete and steel

As if that’s not enough, they can also survive without water for longer than a camel can, they can swim half a mile in open water, and they can even survive large doses of radiation. They’re also very intelligent.

If you have questions about rodents or think rodents may be in your home, contact Thomas Pest Services. Homeowners in and around Albany are already noting signs of mice infestations in their home. Act quickly at the first signs of rodents, Thomas Pest Services offers many rodent removal and rodent control services for homeowners in Clifton Park and the Capital Region. We even offer rodent exclusion services to keep rodents out! Contact us today for a no charge inspection!


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