Commensal Rodents – Rats and Mice
These commensal rodents are of particular public health importance. They have a close association with the human environment and are a link between other carriers of infection.
Both rats and mice transmit a number of diseases to humans, the two main ones being Leptospirosis (Weils Disease) and Salmonellosis.
Both of the above diseases are notifiable under the Public Health (Infectious Diseases) Regulations 1988 and RIDDOR.
Other rodent-borne diseases transmitted to humans include tetanus, rat-bite fever, murine typhus and lymphocytic choriomeningitis.
It is important not to touch suspected areas of rodent activity as their urine carries many of the diseases.
Rodents carry and transmit mites, ringworm, tapeworm, ticks and fleas.
Food can easily become contaminated by rodent activity, therefore rendering it unfit for human consumption.
Structure and fabric damage to a building are inevitable where it is inhabited by rats and mice. These rodents have to constantly gnaw on materials such as wood, soft metals, cables, plastic and even concrete to wear down their incisor teeth that continuously grow throughout their life.
They chew through wires that cause untold damage and creating fire risks through exposed cables.
Rats are sexually mature within 12 weeks and can produce a litter of up to 11 within a small gestation period of only a month.
Mice reach sexual maturity within 8-12 weeks, giving birth to up to six with a gestation period of only 17 days.