Rats and Mice
and humane ways to get rid of them
To lighten the repulsive topic of diseased rats, some lines of 18th-century poetry have been inserted throughout this article.
KILLING mammals with a clean conscience is difficult for many of us. Compared to killing mosquitoes, that is.
Mice and rats are intelligent, warm-blooded, and furry. In other words, they’re a lot like we humans. The kind-hearted among us find it difficult to imagine swatting out their lives as casually as we would a mozzie’s.
Cute Rodent Infestation?
Mice in particular can be cute, there’s no denying it. A couple of centuries ago, Scottish poet and sometime farmer Robert Burns recognised this when he wrote a famous poem in honour of our ‘fellow-mortal’:
“To a Mouse, on Turning Her Up in Her Nest with the Plough”
Wee, sleekit, cow’rin, tim’rous beastie,
O, what a panic’s in thy breastie!
(Robert Burns, 1785)
Rats were sent from Hell to invade our home
The problem is that mice and rats, just like mosquitoes, can bring disease into the home. This harsh fact must be faced – when rats and mice get into your house or apartment, they are no longer cute, they are vermin.
Twitching noses, tiny paws and bright eyes – all these things make it easier to identify with the suffering of a rat or a mouse than that of an insect.
Hard science backs up our gentler instincts. Researchers have found the nervous systems of rats and mice have much in common with those of humans, as do their behavioural traits.
So, unlike the pesky mozzie, it’s difficult to imagine crushing a rodent without feeling squeamish.
Rats (and mice) contaminate food, gnawing their way through any packaging which gets in their way. This can cause all sorts of diseases, including:
Leptospirosis: the urine of rats and mice transmits bacteria which cause this disease. Symptoms range from a mild headache, to fever and aching muscles, or even bleeding lungs and brain inflammation. There are several cases of leptospirosis each year in Western Australia – this is not something you want to play Russian roulette with.
Salmonellosis: a major cause of food poisoning. In addition to fever, this can result in vomiting, stomach cramps and diarrhoea. Severe cases of salmonella cause dehydration and require hospital treatment.
Have you discovered disgusting telltale signs of unwanted visitors in the pantry, cupboards, or kitchen drawers? Droppings and chewed packaging are obvious signs of infestation.
Wipe-down is not enough
But wiping down surfaces with disinfectant and throwing out contaminated food is not enough. The saliva and hair of mice are effectively invisible to the human eye. Even inhaling dust contaminated with particles of rat urine and faeces can pass on infectious diseases.
The problem doesn’t end there. Mites, ticks and fleas infest the fur and skin of rodents. Ever heard of the Black Death? Rat fleas are thought to have caused the plague which killed at least a third of the population of Europe during the Middle Ages.
Pests upon pests – the very idea makes the skin crawl.
On Poetry: a Rhapsody (1733)
So naturalists observe, a flea
Has smaller fleas that on him prey;
And these have smaller fleas to bite ’em.
And so proceeds ad infinitum.
Rats, House fires and health acts
Then, there’s electrical fires:
- House fires: In wall cavities and roof crawl spaces, the instinct of rats and mice is to chew through electrical wiring. Short circuits in wall cavities and roof crawlspaces can spark a conflagration while your family sleeps.
And legal obligations:
- Health Act 1911: This piece of legislation includes clauses which legally oblige householders to get rid of rats. Check out pages 55 and 56 of the original document below
So, all things considered, you need to do something to get these disease-ridden critters out of your home.
The temptation among many urban householders is to use a live trap.
That’s all very well, but according to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, dumping a lone rat outside in an unfamiliar location will most likely lead to a long and lingering death:
Unfortunately, the available evidence suggests that the survival rate of relocated animals is often very low – releasing animals into a new location is therefore not likely to be a more humane alternative to killing them.
RSPCA Australia Knowledgebase
Rats infest the roof of a chicken farm
(Please do not watch if you are a bit squeamish)
What Can I Do About Rats and Mice?
they’re not Robinson Crusoe
In any case, these are social animals. If a mouse has got into your house, others are likely to follow.
According to the WA Health Department, there are lots of things you can do to rat-proof your property:
- Store firewood at least 40cm off the ground, well away from fences and walls.
- Clear garden waste and shed litter.
- Pick all fruit and nuts from trees and vines.
- Block up holes and other access points.
- Put birdseed and chicken feed in airtight containers.
- Clean dog bowls and cat dishes. Keep bulk pet food in sturdy containers well away from rats.
- Ensure rubbish bins and compost bins are free of holes.
- Never throw meat scraps into compost.
For more useful tips, visit: Protect your health – keep rats under control, Department of Health.
Escalating the battle against rats and rodents
However, if rats and mice are still getting into your home somehow, you will need to step up the battle even further.
First step – gather intelligence
Well, you could read this exhaustive study from Britain: Humane Rodent Control, Universities Federation for Animal Welfare
Or you could call in an expert with up-to-date local knowledge and professional training.
Here are some other ideas about getting rid of mice on Tips Bulletin.
Oh and of coure, there’s Alex. He is waiting for your call by the way – just fill in the form top right form or make a booking.Disole Contact page