The Common, or Brown Rat is about 250rats mm long and is a creatureof habit, living both above and below ground. The Black Rat (the original plague carrier) is smaller – about 175 mm long and is an agile climber. They breed rapidly and, like mice, need to gnaw constantly.
Brown Rats burrow underground or into soft material; refuse tips, loose soil under sheds and straw are likely sites. They damage woodwork, plastic and pipes and will sometimes strip insulation from electric cables by their gnawing (until they met their maker in a flash!). They spread many diseases including food poisoning. They contaminate more food than they consume and their urine can pollute stagnant water.
Block off gaps under sheds and move loose piles of wood. Do not encourage rats by leaving scraps of food out of doors, if you think you have an infestation, stop feeding the birds as you could be feeding the rats. Poison is available as proprietary, ready-mixed bait.
Common House Mouse
Mice are usually detected from their dark coloured droppings as well as noticing damage to stored food, packaging or woodwork. Mice have a compulsive need to gnaw; electric cables, water and gas pipes, packaging and woodwork can all be seriously damaged.They climb well and can squeeze through very small gaps. They contaminate food and can carry many diseases, particularly food poisoning. If you live in or near the country and think you have mice, you may have field-mice or other furry creatures; they cause just as much damage but tend to be less dangerous.
Keep your home mouse-proof, this means blocking all possible routes into the house. While they can get into a cavity wall or roof space, they will be very hard to eliminate – check that the structure around all pipes projecting through the outer skin of the house are fully sealed.
There are humane mouse traps available. They usually consist of a box that the mouse is tempted into. Once trapped you simply let the mouse free into an open area a long way from your home.