Health Care and Rodents

- September 12, 2014
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When most people think of rodents, automatically mice and rats come to mind. However, nearly 40% of mammal species are rodents, and they are found on every continent except Antarctica. Rodents include mice, rats, squirrels, chipmunks and beavers, among others. A very detailed list can be found at this website: 

The approximately 4,000 rodent species are divided on the basis of their anatomy into three well-defined groups, or suborders, and more than 30 families. The Sciuromorpha, or squirrel-like rodents, include the various species of squirrel, chipmunk, marmot, woodchuck (or ground hog), prairie dog, gopher (or pocket gopher), pocket mouse, kangaroo rat, and beaver.

The Myomorpha, or mouselike rodents, include a great variety of mouse and rat species, as well as species of hamster, lemming, vole, muskrat, gerbil, dormouse, and jerboa, according to This is the largest rodent group. The Hystricomorpha, or porcupine-like rodents, include the porcupine, capybara, nutria (or coypu), agouti, cavy (including the domestic guinea pig), mara, and chinchilla, as well as many species whose common names include the term rat (e.g., the South American bush rat). More info can be found at this site:

According to the Orkin company, rodents’ biology and habits can make them challenging to control, and they present a serious menace to your home. If you’re in need of rodent control services, here’s what you should know about these pests:


·         Instincts: Rats are instinctively wary of things new to their environment, including rat control measures such as traps and bait, and colonize in attics, burrows, under concrete and porches, in wall voids and other hard-to-reach places.

·         Disease: Rats can harbor and transmit a number of serious diseases. They can also introduce disease-carrying parasites such as fleas and ticks into your home.


·         Access: They invade your home seeking food, water and warmth.

·         Contamination: Each mouse can contaminate much more food than it eats.

Rodents are warm-blooded mammals that, like humans, can be found throughout the world. They have oversized front teeth for gnawing and check teeth, which are adapted for chewing. Rodents chew on a variety of items available to them and cause great damage in and around homes. Plus, they tend to be rapid breeders. Some species breed year-round, and populations are maintained through constant reproduction.

Because of the rodents’ body plan, they are capable of squeezing through spaces that appear to be much too small for them. All such holes should be sealed to prevent entry and reentry of rodents. A pest control professional should be contacted for assistance. Rats and mice are both extremely destructive within agricultural communities. A number of species feed on seeds and grains. The feces and urine of some rodents may contaminate surfaces with which they come into contact. More details can be found at this site:

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), worldwide, rats and mice spread over 35 diseases. These diseases can be spread to humans directly, through handling of rodents, through contact with rodent feces, urine, or saliva, or through rodent bites. Diseases carried by rodents can also be spread to humans indirectly, through ticks, mites or fleas that have fed on an infected rodent.

The primary strategy for preventing human exposure to rodent diseases is effective rodent control in and around the home. This is achieved by eliminating any food sources, sealing even the smallest entries into homes, and successfully trapping rodents in and around the home. Cleaning up after a rodent infestation can be labor intensive, and potentially harmful to your health. For a complete overview, visit this website for extremely detailed material:

In spite of some health hazards concerning rodents in general, some mice and rats, gerbils and hamsters, and a few other rodentia are available as household pets. If you’re interested in providing room and board for one, here is a good overview and comparison of what to expect:

Certain variations of mice and rats serve the medical research community. By testing these rodents through controlled laboratory testing, many medicines and valuable new clues to curing some diseases have been developed. Much more significant data about this topic can be found at this site:

However, some interesting studies using laboratory rodents have recently come to light. According to Nature, the international research journal of science, male, but not female, experimenters induce intense stress in rodents that can dampen pain responses, according to a paper published in Nature Methods. Such reactions affect the rodents’ behavior and potentially confound the results of animal studies, the study suggests.

According to the research, this surprising gender disparity was discovered while investigating whether the presence of experimenters affects rodent pain studies. For years, anecdotal reports have suggested that rodents show a diminished pain response when a handler remains in the room. More information about this study can be found at this site:

Finally, according to the State of Florida Health Department, wild rodents can cause home damage, contaminate food, and cause illness in people and pets. Rodent infestations are more likely to occur when events such as flooding displace them. To avoid rodent infestation remove potential rodent food and water sources, and store food for people and pets in sealed containers. Clear debris and other material where rodents can hide.

Safely clean up rodent droppings, urine and nesting areas, always wearing gloves and spraying material with disinfectant until thoroughly soaked before attempting to remove or clean. More details can be found at this website: .

Rodents serve a purpose in creation, but they can also be problematic in many cases. Make sure that your home or worksite is protected and monitored, and cleaned. Rat bite fever is not the same as Saturday Night Fever, so your dance routine is definitely not the same.

Until next time.
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