Common Rodents in NY

kids laying on the floor with their parents on the couch behind them

Like humans, rats and mice need food, water, and shelter to survive. So, where there are a large number of humans, you will probably also find plenty of rodents. And where can you find more signs of life than in New York State? Let’s dive into the kind of rats and mice that are most common in the Empire State, and why there are so many. 

Types Of Rats

First, let’s start with rats. Currently, officials believe there are over 3 million rats in the state of New York today. Some experts say there are more rats in our state than people. But rats have been here for a long time, and dealing with these bothersome pests is nothing new. In fact, rats were first introduced to the city when ships began bringing over goods from European countries in the 1700s. Since then, they have found the clutter and large amounts of trash in New York to their liking. With over 15 million tons of waste produced each year, the state provides a hefty feast. 

Norway Rats

Norway rats are larger and more aggressive than their counterparts. According to Columbia University, Norway rats are native to China and were involuntarily brought over by German soldiers on boats around 1776. 

Weighing around ½ to 1 pound, Norway rats are about 16 inches long and have prickly brown fur and a pale gray underside. They have small eyes and ears and a short tail the same length as their head and body. They are often called sewer rats because they are nocturnal and live in city fields, sewers, storm drains, and crawl spaces. They like to burrow in the ground, building long tunnels to store food and build nests. They are active year-round, and while they prefer meat, fish, and grains, they will eat anything in the garbage.  

Roof Rats

Roof rats get their name because they are typically found in the upper parts of buildings. These black rats are excellent climbers and often build nests in attics, crawlspaces, and trees. Adult roof rats are smaller than the Norway rat weighing approximately ⅔ of a pound, and are about 13 to 18 inches in length. They like fruits and nuts but are often found feasting on pet food and bird seed. They like to hoard parts of their food to eat later. Much like squirrels, they have the ability to walk along wires using utility lines and tree branches to gain access to buildings where they find food. 

Are Rats Dangerous?

Rats can be considered a dangerous nuisance for a number of reasons.

Harmful Diseases

First, they are known carriers of harmful diseases, including the Black Plague, Lymphocytic choriomeningitis, endemic typhus, ratbite fever, salmonellosis, and bubonic plague. These diseases can spread to people directly through the handling of rodents or contact with rodent feces, urine, or saliva. Because rats leave behind fecal matter and urine droppings, food may become contaminated unknowingly. Some diseases can be picked up through fecal matter in the air. Fleas, ticks, and mites can also pick up these diseases from rats, passing them along to unsuspecting humans. 

Structure Damage Caused by Chewing

Secondly, rats can cause extensive damage to your home. Rats like to chew. Gnawing on plastic, wood, cloth, paper, and insulation, rats, can leave large holes in your walls and floorboards. Sometimes you can even see teeth marks on objects they have munched on. Rats may also chew on wiring causing electrical outages and fires. Once they have chewed down the writing, your home might short-circuit. They also like the taste of pipes, and if they chew a hole in one, water could leak out damaging your property or causing a flood.  

Damage Caused Through Nests

In seeking shelter and warmth, rodents often build nests inside your heating and cooling ducts. When this happens, your HVAC system becomes less efficient and exposes everyone who breathes in the air to harmful bacteria and germs. The material used to build these nests may also become impacted. Rats and mice chew through and tear insulation, wood, paper, plastic, and other materials to build their nests. In doing so, they are taking pieces of materials away from your home. Over time, this can cause holes and tears and costly damage to the structure of your home. 

Types of Mice

Deer Mice

Probably the most common mouse in our state is the deer mouse. It gets its name because its fur resembles that of a deer. They are small and range around 5 to 8 inches in length. Brown or dark brown, they have white feet and a white underbelly. Their bi-colored tails are their most distinctive factor. They prefer to live in rural outdoor areas and like to prepare their nests in tree hollows, old fence posts, log piles, and under patios and decks. If they make their way inside, they can be found living in drawers, storage boxes, basements, and attics. They prefer insects, nuts, berries, seeds, and small fruits. These rodents are fast movers, climbing, swimming, and even leaping to outwit predators. 

The House Mouse

This sprightly critter is a tiny rodent that weighs only ½ of an ounce and is approximately 5 to 7 inches long. They are light brown to grey in color and have relatively large ears for such small bodies. House mice are one of the most troublesome rodents wreaking havoc everywhere they trail. They are called house mice because they are often found in and around structural locations as well as in open fields. They make their nests out of shreds of paper or similar materials and thrive on cereal grains, seeds, insects, and fruit. These fast crawlers are also skilled climbers and jumpers leaping 12 inches in the air. They can squeeze through tiny openings disappearing in seconds, but you can tell they were there from the musty scent they leave behind. 

Are Mice Dangerous?

While mice typically do not bite and are not considered aggressive, they do carry and transmit harmful diseases. According to the Centers for Disease Control, mice can carry diseases such as Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS), Leptospirosis, and Salmonellosis. HPS is often severe and even fatal to humans. 

House mice are of particular concern because they carry Lymphocytic Chorio-meningitis (LCM), which humans can contract simply by breathing in the dust where a rodent urinated or dropped feces. 

Like rats, mice can cause various types of damage to your home. They like to chew and gnaw on the same materials as rats and can accidentally cause fires, circuit shortages, foundation issues, and polluted air. 

Mice vs. Rats

Mice and rats are both rodents and look quite similar. The most significant difference is their size. Rats are larger with shorter, thicker tails. Other differing factors of rats and mice include:

Eating habits - Both mice and rats will eat almost anything, but while mice prefer cereal grains and plants, rats prefer grains and meat. Rats require at least ½ to one fluid ounce of water per day and will seek it out at any cost. 

Habitat- Both are nocturnal creatures mostly active at nighttime. Mice build their nests in secret locations located near food sources. They will use just about any material to build their nest. On the other hand, rats typically borrow and dig under buildings and live under plants and other debris. 

Behavior- Both are excellent at swimming and climbing. Rats are such good swimmers they tend to live in sewers and often enter buildings through broken toilets or drains. Mice can jump up to 13 inches high, and their smaller bodies allow them to run along wires, cables, and ropes.

Both can enter small spaces sneaking inside your home without you knowing. To distinguish between the two, mice typically leave behind a musky odor, while rats do not. And lastly, as the dominant animal, rats scare mice, and if push comes to shove, rats will kill and eat the smaller rodent. 

Get Rid Of Rodents in Your New York Home

If you are experiencing or thinking you might have rodents such as rats and mice in your home, stop living in fear. With over 40 years of pest control, Suburban Pest Control can help. Contact us today for a free quote on fast and efficient rodent control

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