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HOUSE MOUSE: Three to four inches long, with large ears, small black eyes, pointed nose and is light brown or gray on top with a whitish underside.
KANGAROO RAT:These little critters are a natural desert rodent. Nature has provided them with the ability to survive with very little water, if any. They can convert dry seeds into water and have specialized kidneys which allows them to dispose waste with very low output of water. They have a plump little body with a very long hairy tail with a tuft at the end. They can be up to 14" long including tail. This tail helps them balance as they run or hop. They are usually a light tan with a cream underbelly, hairless ears and very big eyes.
PACK RATS: Usually you read about the two most prevalent rat species the Roof or Norway rat. In the desert however, we have our own special rat. It is in the wood rat family, lovingly called the packrat here. They are darker tan to medium brown with a light underbelly, their tail is a little longer than their body and average 12" as an adult. Like most rodents they all kind of look alike. It's the packrat's habits that distinguish it from other rodents.

HOUSE MOUSE: Nest inside structures, usually 10' - 30' from their food source, great climbers, feed on just about anything however, prefer grains. Travel along walls using whiskers as feelers.

KANGAROO RATS: Nest outside in burrows, come out only at night when it's cooler, feed on wild seeds.

PACK RATS: Nest out doors in beaver like dens fortified with sticks and dead cacti for protection, will also nest in beaver tail cactus, in bbq grills, wood piles, attics, even engine compartments. Will forage greater distances for food and can do damage to electrical and telephone wiring. All rodents need to gnaw which can be quite loud in an attic area making them sound "bigger" than they are.

Life Cycle:
Most rodents are pretty fast producers. Because they have a relatively short life they get started producing early (as often as 28 days from birth) and with high numbers (2-3 litters a year with 2-5 offspring). Any time a rodent population is detected it should be addressed immediately to control a population explosion.

Safety Tips:
The Bubonic plague was fostered by rats who carried plague infected fleas. The fleas attacked humans and the plague was transferred. This problem is all but eliminated due to massive reduction of rat populations and flea control. The newest threat with rodent activity however is something that isn't visible like a flea and carries symptoms so common it is often initially mistaken for the flu. What's not common is the very high fatality rate still associated with the Hanta Virus. This virus is carried primarily by a species of deer mouse, but has been detected in many other rats and mice. The virus is carried by the rodent and passed in their feces. As the feces and urine dries and accumulates (One mouse may leave up to 60 droppings in one night of foraging!) it starts to breakdown and aerosolize. These microscopic particles can become airborne and be inhaled. It is also possible to get this virus while eating or drinking contaminated products or being bitten by the rodent. The symptoms start as an abrupt fever, headaches, abdominal pain, cough nausea/vomiting and shortness of breath. As the virus progresses fluid builds up in the lungs (pulmonary edema). To date there is no definitive treatment. In over 50% of the cases fatality occurs. It is important to note that many of these cases have been in areas where immediate medical treatment may not have been accessible, thus increasing the fatality rate. However, caution should always be exercised when in contact with rodents. Some of the more common causes of infection have been caused by: planting or harvesting crops particularly seed crops, occupying previously unoccupied dwellings (cabins and cottages used in the summer should be thoroughly inspected for rodent droppings), cleaning barns or stables where rodents are present, disturbing rodent infested areas while camping or hiking.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure is the perfect adage when dealing with rodents. Prevent them from gaining access by sealing entry points. Mice can enter through dime size openings. Reduce clutter in garages, keep boxes off the floor when possible. If they do get in, eliminate them as soon as possible. Use traps wherever possible so the bodies can be removed (rodents may go back to their nest when feeling ill from baits and die in inaccessible areas). Don't touch rodents or contaminated traps without rubber gloves. Put rodents in a bucket of disinfectant like Lysol before discarding, wear hepa filter respirators when entering dusty crawl spaces and wear protective clothing. If rodent droppings are detected, wet them down with a disinfectant first before cleaning them up. It kills the virus and reduces the dust during cleanup. There are many good internet sites to receive more technical information about the Hanta Virus.

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