RODENT; HABIT AND BEHAVIOUR

Rats are social animals. They live in colonies with defined territories. The colony has a hierarchical structure, with a dominant male leader. Rats aggressively defend their territories and feeding sites. Rats are also categorized as the most damaging vertebrate pest because of…

  1. Destruction of food and materials

It is estimated that rats destroy around 20 percent of the world’s food supply

  • Disease transmission

Rats transmit diseases including leptospirosis, plague, rat-bite fever, murine typhus fever and trichinosis

Dirty and disgusting

Rats are typically associated with dirty areas and sightings invoke fear amongst people.

Do you know that…

Rats are excellent athletes. They can reach 1m height by jumping in the air, can swim up to 1km distance and can dive through sewer systems at ease. Being such good athletes enables them to move around quickly, often at night in areas hidden to us.

Rats are very wary since they…

  • Tend to nest in underground burrows
  • Prefer to travel in areas they know are safe for them
  • Cautious about anything new. They will avoid new objects until they feel that the object poses no hazard to them. Consequently, rats prefer established food sources and will hoard food in hidden areas. Importantly, from a management point of view, rats will avoid baits when first applied, then only approach tentatively before consuming them in any significant quantity.

Rats tend to nest in burrows:

  • Burrows are typically outdoors, but can be located inside buildings
  • They are quite shallow (<0.5m deep) and short (<1m in length)
  • There is a central nest

Rats can learn and adapt their behaviour to their surroundings. Hence, a knowledge of habits and behaviour is important for management.

Rats also have a high reproductive potential.

  • Sexually mature in 3-4 months
  • Average litter size is 6-10
  • 4-6 of litters per female per year
  • They can live up to 3 years , even average lifespan in the field is usually less than a year

Rats and mice have a poor vision and are colour blind. They can detect motion and highly reflective objects which can cause avoidance behaviour.

Rodents use sound to locate objects to within close range. They can hear higher frequencies compared to humans and use high frequency sound during certain period such as mating.

Smell is important for rodents. They use smell to recognize pathways to food, to identify members of the opposite sex who are ready to mate, and to differentiate between members of their own colonies and strangers.

Rodents have a highly sensitive sense of taste which enables them to detect chemicals at extremely low concentrations. This can lead to food (or bait) avoidance if it is contaminated.

Due to highly sensitive body hairs and whiskers rodents are highly sensitive to touch. They use touch to explore their environment. Rodents prefer a stationary object on one side so they tend to travel in more secure areas such as along walls.

Rodents have an excellence sense of balance which allows them to walk on narrow surfaces such as pipes and wires and will always land on their feet in a fall.

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