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Survival skills and health facts of mice and rats

Rodents are the type of pest that make people squeal when they come across one. No matter if you spot a mouse or rat in your house, a restaurant, hotel, or just out and about, we can all agree that hanging out in the same place as one is definitely not a wish we have. 

Though rodents are disgusting pests, they do excel in many areas. They may be unhealthy for us, but mice and rats do have some very impressive, or should we say interesting, survival skills and health facts. From living without water to having a built-in air conditioning system, it seems like there isn’t anything a rodent can’t do. Or is there? Keep reading to learn more about these intriguing mammals.

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1. Rats' teeth never stop growing.


Rats' incisor teeth, which are the front teeth they use to gnaw on things, never stop growing – so they must constantly gnaw and chew to wear them down. Their top incisors are a little over ⅛” long and their bottom incisors are a little more than a ¼” long. They will chew on anything that’s not harder than their teeth so that their incisors don’t become too large. In addition to their continually growing teeth, rats also have incredibly strong chompers. On the Mohs Hardness Scale, a scale used to weigh minerals, rats' teeth rate a 5.5 while iron is only a 5.0.

2. Mice and rats are omnivores.

Rodent in dirty kitchen

Rats will eat anything, including human excrement. They are voracious eaters, consuming up to 10% of their body weight in a day. In fact, rats have been known to kill and eat mice to eliminate competition or take advantage of an easy meal. This interspecies behavior is called muricide. 

Like their rat cousins, mice are also omnivores that will eat just about anything. Contrary to popular belief, though, cheese isn't their preferred food. Mice prefer food that is high in carbohydrates, such as seeds and grains.

3. No water? No problem for mice.

Mouse eating berry

Mice can live a month or longer without a direct source of water. They can get all the water they need, which is about a tablespoon per day, through their food consumption. Foods that we think may require a sip of water after eating have enough water in them for a mouse. However, if there is a water source available, they will take advantage of it.

4. Rodents can’t vomit.

Mouse in kitchen

Neither rats or mice – or any of their rodent relatives, like squirrels – can vomit. Researchers believe that rodents lack the neural circuitry and digestive structures needed to throw up. Rodents have a barrier between their stomach and esophagus, and they don’t have enough muscle strength to open that barrier to vomit. If they come across a new food, they will take a tiny bite to see if it makes them feel sick. If it does, they will know to avoid that food in the future thanks to their powerful sense of smell and taste. Also, rats don’t burp or experience heartburn.

5. Rats’ tails cool them down.

Rat bait trap

Rats don’t sweat or pant to cool off. They have a built in air-conditioning system: their hairless tails. A rat's tail is filled with blood vessels, which dilate or constrict to release or conserve body heat. During warm weather, a rat’s body temperature rises, causing its blood vessels to dilate and more blood to go to its tail. The blood will then lose heat through the skin on the tail and the blood that flows back to the body will cool it off. A study in the 1980s found that rats can lose up to 17% of their body heat through their tail.

Let Western keep rodents out of your home

No matter if you’re dealing with mice or rats, a rodent infestation is definitely one you do not want to have. Though these five facts are fun and interesting, the survival skills of a rodent are also why you won’t want this pest in your home this winter. Our exclusion service is the perfect solution to ensure your home is rodent-free.

If you do find yourself with an infestation, our specialists are trained to find where and how rodents are entering your home and they will provide the right plan to eliminate them. Contact us today for a free rodent inspection.

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