Rodents: Rats, Mice, and Voles in New Jersey

Scavengers and opportunistic survivors, rodents are the most adaptable species on the planet after man. Spread across the continents by early seafarers and traders, rodents are now found in every corner of the world and thrive in even the most extreme environments. While rats, mice and voles also live outdoors, many rodent species have adapted to live in human structures and feed on human food and refuse. When they live and forage near man, rodents contaminate food supplies and expose humans to dangerous parasites and diseases.

Every year, rodents destroy one-third of the world’s food supplies. Over the last century, rodent-borne plagues and diseases have killed more than 10 million people. Rodent-caused bubonic plague, untreatable Hantavirus and other serious diseases continue to sicken or kill thousands of people every year.

Effective elimination of a rodent infestation in your home or business requires the expertise of a pest control professional with demonstrated experience in rodent elimination and exclusion. Rodent infestations can be difficult to eliminate due to the secretive behavior of these pests, their ability to squeeze through tiny openings to gain entrance to buildings, and their use of multiple entry points.

The rodent exclusion experts at Allison Pest Control have the knowledge, expertise and experience to locate entry points and successfully exclude rodents. Allison Pest Control’s residential and commercial pest control programs can rid your home or business of dangerous rodent infestations and prevent rodents from coming back.

New Jersey Rodent Identification Tips

Mice and voles are much smaller than rats, often territorial, but less aggressive. Mice and voles are various shades of brown or gray, often with lighter underbellies. Weighing less than an ounce, mice and voles are 2 to 4 inches long, usually with furred tails. Mice have more prominent ears than voles and long, thin tails; while voles are stouter than mice with short, stubby tails.

Rats are much larger and darker colored than mice with gray, brown or black hair. Rats can weigh nearly a pound with bodies from 5 to nearly 12 inches long and scaly tails that can double their body length. Young rats can be confused with mice, but their heads and feet will appear overly large in proportion to their still growing bodies.

Find out more about the types of rats, mice, and voles that are problems for New Jersey residents.

What is Typical Rodent Behavior?

Rodents are nocturnal, their eyes adapted for night vision. Their large, highly sensitive ears allow rodents to hear well beyond human abilities into the ultra-sonic range. Rodent hairs are connected directly to their sensory nerves, making these pests extremely sensitive to their environment and quick to respond when discovered. Rodents scurry easily along cables and pipes, are good swimmers, adept climbers and can jump several feet straight up to access counters and shelves.

Rodents live in polygamous breeding groups with females breeding throughout the year. Prolific breeders, females can have 5 litters of 6 to 12 pups in a single year. Pups mature quickly and are capable of reproducing at 3 months. Rodents live 1 to 2 years. In an average 2-year life span, a single female can produce as many as 200 offspring.

Omnivores, rodents are voracious feeders and will eat nearly anything, including plants, insects, small animals and human refuse, but prefer nuts, grains, fruit and sweets. They don’t actually like cheese. Most rodents need little water, obtaining their moisture requirements from food.

Their narrow skulls and flexible bodies allow rodents to squirm through small openings. Mice can squeeze through a hole the size of a dime; rats, through holes the size of a quarter, making it easy for these pests to access homes and commercial buildings.

When rodents invade buildings, their constant gnawing, necessary to grind down their perpetually-growing teeth, can cause serious damage to baseboards, walls, cabinetry and furniture. They have been known to start electrical fires by chewing through wires in attics. Rats can chew through wood, aluminum, sheet rock, wallboard, even concrete.

Signs of gnawing and fresh fecal pellets are usually the first sign of a rodent infestation. Mouse droppings are dark colored, smooth and about the size of a small grain of rice. Rat droppings are also dark colored, but larger and wrinkled looking, about the size and shape of a raisin. As they forage, rodents dribble urine and feces in pheromone trails across food preparation areas and into food supplies, contaminating food and spreading parasites and disease with every step.

When rodents invade human habitats, they expose people and pets to harmful parasites including plague-carrying fleas, mites, tapeworms and Lyme disease-harboring deer ticks. Rodents can trigger allergies and asthma; and they are known vectors for dangerous diseases including salmonella, infectious jaundice, meningitis, bubonic plague, typhus and life-threatening Hantavirus. Contracted by breathing in dust that contains pulverized rodent feces, Hantavirus is an untreatable respiratory disease that causes hemorrhagic fever, leading to renal failure and death.

The New Jersey Rodent Habitat

As humans have encroached on the fields, woods and river banks that are their natural habitats, rodents have adapted. Rodents can be found nesting in basements, crawl spaces, attics, inside walls, at construction sites, abandoned buildings, tunnels, sewers, dumpsters, parked cars and lawns.

Rodents build nests of sticks and leaves or live in underground burrows or in piles of debris. They enter homes along wires and pipes, through crawl spaces and attic vents, under door jambs and via sump pumps and sewer drains. When new construction destroys natural habitats, rodent infestations can become particularly problematic.

If you think you have a rodent problem, please don’t wait until others in your household become ill with a disease to contact a pest control service. The presence of rodents needs prompt professional action to protect your health and others in your family and household. Contact Allison Pest Control for a free, no obligation pest inspection today.