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sarasota rodent control (10)

While we should all feel blessed to be surrounded by raccoons, dogs and bats that make our fauna diversity more interesting and exciting, these animals can also be a potential source of rabies, a completely preventable disease that can turn 100 percent fatal when not treated immediately.

Compared with third world countries, nations like the United States fare better when it comes to fighting rabies. That doesn't mean, however, it no longer exists. Early this year, some bats found in Irvine Regional Park in California tested positive for the rabies virus.

What Is Rabies?

Rabies is a viral disease that can be passed on between animals and between animals and humans through saliva. In very rare cases, rabies is spread through corneal transplant.

This means that humans can acquire the virus if they have been bitten or their open wounds or cracked skin is licked by a rabid animal. Humans can also develop rabies if they've been scratched by claws covered with saliva. It cannot be transmitted through other means like urine or blood, or by petting a rabid animal.

Once the rabies gets into the body, it attaches itself to the nerve cells, gradually destroying the nervous system. In its last performance, it attacks the brain, killing the person.

The incubation period is usually two to 12 weeks, but in some situations, clinical symptoms can occur less than two weeks up to at least a year, depending on how much virus the saliva had, the person's immunity and the location of the bite. The closer it is to the brain, the faster the symptoms can appear.

Treatment for Rabies

There have been reported cases of people who survived rabies, but almost always, people die after the signs and symptoms of rabies appear. These include:

- Prickling sensation or itching in the wound site

- Fever

- Feeling of discomfort

- Agitation or anxiety

- Disorientation and hallucination

- Headache

- Fatigue

- Changes in behavior

- Insomnia

- Difficulty drinking water

- Hypersensitivity to light

There's also no diagnostic test that can determine if the virus has already entered the body and how far along it is in destroying the brain.

However, people who have been bitten by an animal with rabies can be treated with a vaccine, which can be administered before or after the bite (the latter, called post-exposure prophylaxis or PEP, is more common). When the vaccination is performed, it can differ according to the degree of contact with suspected rabies:

These shots can be provided in hospitals, animal bite centers and vaccine clinics.

First aid can also be done prior to the vaccination. This includes washing the wound with running water and soap, then cleaning the area thoroughly. Exposure to rabies can also be prevented or significantly reduced by vaccinating pets annually.

Source: http://www.techtimes.com/

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Almost all homeowners know the feeling of unease that accompanies finding mice or rodents in your home. Whether in the kitchen, attic, basement or dining room - a rodent sighting can incite surprise and fear in even the most composed homeowner. Unfortunately, these common pests are resourceful creatures that can enter a building or home through the smallest opening or crack, and require very little space to travel inside. Mice can easily fit through spaces as small as a nickel!

Rodents seek shelter indoors, especially during the cooler fall and winter months, and once inside can cause more than just an unpleasant infestation. Rodents put homes at risk for electrical fires by gnawing through wires. More frequently, though, rodents serve as vectors, carrying bacteria, such as salmonella, on their bodies and contaminating food sources, kitchen surfaces and equipment. The common white-footed deer mouse is also known to transmit the potentially fatal Hantavirus.

Simple Rodent Control Tips

Fortunately, there are many ways homeowners can proactively prevent and get rid of rodent infestations in their homes:

  1. Install door sweeps on exterior doors and repair damaged screens.
  2. Screen vents and openings to chimneys.
  3. Seal cracks and holes on the outside of the home, including areas where utilities and pipes enter the home, using caulk, steel wool or a combination of both. 
  4. Store food in airtight containers and dispose of garbage regularly.
  5. Keep attics, basements and crawl spaces well ventilated and dry.
  6. Replace loose mortar and weather stripping around the basement foundation and windows.
  7. Eliminate all moisture sites, including leaking pipes and clogged drains that provide the perfect breeding site for pests.
  8. Inspect items such as boxes, grocery bags and other packages brought into the home.
  9. Store firewood at least 20 feet away from the house and keep shrubbery trimmed and cut back from the house.
  10. If you suspect a pest infestation in your home, contact a licensed pest professional to inspect and treat the pest problem. 

If you spot evidence of a rodent infestation, do not hesitate to act to handle the problem. Rodents are known to reproduce quickly, and a small problem can turn into a big issue overnight if left untreated.

Rodent control and management are important for health and safety reasons.

Source: http://www.pestworld.org/

If you're noticing a rodent issue please contact a Professional such as Rodent Solutions for rodent removal in your Sarasota and/or Bradenton Home and/or Office. - Call 941-704-0063

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A proactive approach to ensure a defense against pest infestations needs to be top of mind for every homeowner or building manager.

Here is a Checklist of common areas vulnerable to pest problems, as well as offers advice on how to possibly prevent a problem before it happens.

1. Attics - An attic offers a fantastic retreat for rodents like rats and mice to spend the winter. Be sure to replace all damaged roof tiles and attic vents before it snows. It is best to store items in sealed plastic bins to avoid rodents nesting and damage.

2. Pipes and drains - Cockroaches, ants and other insects are attracted to moisture and excess water. Now is the time to inspect and repair any damage. Be sure to replace water-damaged wood to prevent attraction of wood-infesting pests once the snow melts.

3. Chimneys - Birds, bats and squirrels like to make homes in chimneys. Install a suitably sized chimney cap to keep animals out and prevent secondary pest infestations.

4. Garages - Many people use a garage more for storing items. However, rodents love to find nesting sites there. Store items off the floor on shelving and be sure to place all food items in plastic containers. Check around doors for gaps and seal all openings a quarter inch or greater.

5. Kitchen - The kitchen is often the one room singled out by pest control professionals as the highest risk of a pest problem. It is important to store food in airtight containers. Make it a point to regularly empty contents of garbage cans and clear up any food debris. Check the expiration dates of cereal and other dried food items, and discard expired items to prevent infestations by stored product pests.

6. Bird Feeders and Trash Cans - Bird feeders don’t just ensure a steady food supply to birds in the cold weather. Mice are especially attracted to bird feed, including seeds and discarded hulls. Therefore be sure to keep the ground surrounding bird feeders free of seeds and debris. Trash is an additional food source for rodents and other wildlife during the winter months. All trash cans should be secured with tight-fitting lids.

7. Foundation and walls - Rodents and other pests will look to gain entry into crawlspaces and other protected areas this time of year. Be sure to identify and repair any openings in the foundation, and around utility pipe entryways. Also, replace damaged dryer and other vents.

8. Windows and doors - Cracks or gaps around windows and doors are easy to overlook. However, in the time it takes to say “cheese” a rodent can zip through an opening just a quarter of an inch in size. It pays to cover these gaps from both an energy saving and a pest prevention point of view. Be sure to install weather stripping around windows and doors, as well as door sweeps beneath doors.

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Diseases Spread By Nuisance Wildlife

Whether hiking, camping, canoeing or simply taking in the wonders of nature, many people enjoy spending time outdoors all year round. However, while wondrous and beautiful, being out in nature doesn’t come without risk – especially if people come into contact with wildlife, which often carry numerous infectious diseases.

Some of these “wildlife diseases” are well known (even though they are not typically associated with wildlife) while others are less known, but all are concerning when it comes to public health.

PLAGUE
The plague or the “black death” is best known for ravaging Europe during the Middle Ages and killing more than half the population. However, the plague, while not widespread, still exists in the United States. In fact, some of the highest number of animals infected with the plague in the world are in the U.S. and is most commonly found in the southwestern parts of the country.

This infection is caused by the bacteriaYersinia pestisand is typically carried by the fleas found on rats, ground squirrels, rabbits, prairie dogs and ferrets. In fact, entire prairie dog colonies regularly are wiped out by outbreaks of plague. 

In humans, the disease typically presents in two forms: bubonic and pneumonic types. The bubonic form is characterized by a bacteremia and infected lymph nodes (enlarged lymph nodes were given the Latin namebulbus– from the Greekβολβόςorbolbós –and hence the name bubonic plague). Human mortality in untreated cases of bubonic plague is 25 to 60 percent. However, the pneumonic form (pneumonic from pneumonia, or involving the lungs) is even more dangerous. The pneumonic form is characterized by an acute pneumonia and, unlike bubonic plague, is much more contagious and rapidly fatal if untreated, with 100 percent mortality within one to three days.

Veterinarians, hunters and ranchers have been killed by this disease – often as a result of handling the carcass of a dead animal or while trying to aid an injured/sick animal in which case they are inadvertently bitten by an infected flea.

Immunization and avoidance of contact with fleas or animal carcasses are the two best ways to avoid contracting this potentially life-threatening infection. Active immunization may be necessary for those people who partake in activities that increase their exposure to wild animals and live in areas where the plague is common. Additionally, avoiding contact with fleas and wild animals is highly recommended. Hunters should use special precautions in transporting dead animals.

RABIES
Unfortunately, like the plague, rabies is also not uncommon in the United States. The vast majority of rabies cases occur in wild animals like raccoons, skunks, bats, and foxes. Transmission occurs from bite wounds or any other situation where infected saliva gets in cuts or skin abrasions (hence the common name for rabies“Bite Wound Disease”). However, rabies can be transmitted through aerosol transmission - breathing the air in areas where infected animals reside, such as inside bat caves.

In wild animals, changes in behavior could come as a result of a rabies infection. Odd behaviors such as a lack of fear of humans or seeing typically nocturnal animals out during the day could be cause for concern. While domestic animals once formed the largest reservoir for the disease, since the 1960's, wildlife species have become the leading carriers of rabies.

The disease is caused by the rabies virus (Rhabdovirus), which infects the central nervous system, the brain and ultimately causing death. The early symptoms of rabies in people are similar to that of many other illnesses, including fever, headache, and general weakness or discomfort. As the disease progresses more symptoms appear such as anxiety, confusion, paralysis, agitation, hallucinations, hypersalivation (increase in saliva), difficulty swallowing, and hydrophobia (fear of water). Death usually occurs within days of the onset of these symptoms.

Unfortunately, once rabies disease has developed there is no treatment and for practical purposes rabies is still considered 100 percent fatal. Thus, early preventive measures remain the only way to guarantee survival after a bite by a rabid animal. Waiting for symptoms to begin is a death sentence.

Again, immunization and contact avoidance are the two best ways to prevent contracting this fatal infection. People who regularly work with wildlife should be vaccinated against rabies. Otherwise, the best protection for people and their pets is to avoid being bitten. In case of a bite from a wild mammal, it’s important to seek immediate medical care because rapid treatment with rabies immunoglobulin (antibodies) and vaccination can block the infection before it takes hold.

HANTAVIRUS
Unlike the plague or rabies, which have been well recognized for many centuries, Hantavirus has only recently become recognized. The name hantavirusis derived from the Hantan River area in South Korea, related to an outbreak of Korean Hemorrhagic Fever among American and Korean soldiers during the Korean War (1951-1953). This was later found to be caused by a relatively newly discovered genus of viruses: Hantaan virus. Still more recently, Hantavirus infections were finally recognized in the United States. In 1993, an outbreak of Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome occurred in the Four Corners region in the southwestern United States (leading to the original name "Four Corners disease”). The viral cause of the disease was found only weeks later and was called the Sin Nombre virus ("Virus sin nombre", Spanish for "nameless virus")

In the United States, deer mice (along with cotton rats and rice rats in the southeastern states and the white-footed mouse in the Northeast) are the vectors of the virus. These rodents shed the virus in their urine, droppings, and saliva. The infection is transmitted to people when they breathe air contaminated with the virus which occurs when fresh rodent urine, droppings, or nesting materials are stirred up and their particles become airborne.

The virus can also be transmitted through bites from infected mice, albeit this transmission is less common. Researchers also believe that people may be able to contract the virus after touching something that has been contaminated with rodent urine, droppings, or saliva and then touching their nose or mouth; or if they eat food contaminated by urine, droppings, or saliva from an infected rodent.

Early onset of Hantavirus infection is nonspecific and includes flu-like symptoms such as fever, cough, muscle aches, headache and fatigue. However, the life threatening form of infection, Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, is characterized by a sudden onset of shortness of breath with rapidly evolving pulmonary distress that can be fatal in half the cases despite intensive care and mechanical ventilation.

Anyone who comes into contact with rodents that carry Hantavirus is at risk for infection. Rodent infestations in and around the home, and structures in more rural areas such as cabins or barns as well as campgrounds, put people at risk of Hantavirus exposure.

However, prevention and control is the primary strategy for avoiding contact with infected rodents. People who live in areas where Hantavirus is common should contact a licensed pest professional to outline the best prevention plan and elimination techniques in case of an infestation.

TULAREMIA
Tularemia, also known as “Rabbit Fever” as it is commonly transmitted during the rabbit skinning process, is caused by the bacteriaFrancisella tularensis.

Humans can become infected not only through contact with infected animals or carcasses, but also as a result of the bite of infected ticks, deer flies, and other insects. Transmission is also possible through the inhalation of airborne bacteria and ingestion of infected food or water. In the summer, most cases come from infected tick bites. In the winter, cases are reported by hunters who trap and skin infected animals. Landscape workers have also been identified as a segment of the population who is at an increased risk for tularemia infections. Person-to-person transmission of tularemia does not occur.

The clinical manifestations, or symptoms, ofFrancisellainfection may range from asymptomatic illness to septic shock and death, in part depending on the virulence of the infecting strain, portal of entry, inoculums (amount of bacteria a person is exposed to) and the immune status of the host. A common type of tularemia is ulceroglandular tularemia, which normally results from the bite of infected ticks, or contact between broken skin andF. tularensis(such as the blood of an infected animal when a hunter skins a rabbit). A more rare and severe form of the disease, pneumonic tularemia, is caused by inhalation of the bacteria.

Immediate treatment with the appropriate antibiotics is recommended, as Tularemia can be fatal if left untreated.

Tularemia is found across the United States, but most cases are in Missouri, Arkansas, South Dakota and Oklahoma.

Symptoms often appear abruptly three to five days after infection, but can take as long as two to three weeks to appear. While a fever is the most common symptom, others include joint pain, chills, loss of appetite, and malaise. Infected people may experience swollen lymph nodes, headache, chills, dry cough, sore throat and ulcers at the site of infection, sore eyes, weakness and diarrhea.

There are several forms of tularemia, each specific to a particular route of entry byF. tularensisinto the body. Ulceroglandular tularemia is the most common form of the disease and is accompanied by flu-like symptoms, ulcers at the site of infection, and swollen lymph nodes.

Inhalation of the bacteria leads to pneumonic tularemia, the most severe form of the disease. Pneumonic tularemia is characterized by non-specific respiratory symptoms including hemorrhagic inflammation of the lungs and bronchopneumonia. This, in addition to low suspicion of tularemia (due to its relatively low occurrence), makes it challenging for physicians to correctly diagnose isolated cases.

Diagnosis is made on a combination of suspicious signs and symptoms, followed by laboratory confirmatory testing. Treatment typically requires intramuscular or intravenous antibiotic therapy for 10 days.

Although these wildlife diseases are dangerous and pose a significant risk to humans, they are not a reason to stop enjoying the great outdoors. By following a few simple precautions, humans can safely interact with wildlife and keep any health dangers at bay.

Source: www.pestworld.org

If you're noticing a rodent issue please contact a Professional such as Rodent Solutions for rodent removal in your Sarasota and/or Bradenton Home and/or Office. - Call 941-704-0063

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Tips For Dealing With Wildlife

Injured or Orphaned Wildlife

Generally if you find a baby animal it is best to leave it alone. Often the animal is not orphaned, and the parent may be out getting food for the animal, or watching the baby. Never pick up baby animals and remove them from their natural environment!  To report an injured or orphaned wild animal, contact any of the FWC's 5 regional offices for a list of wildlife rehabilitators or consult one of the rehabilitators on this list.

Additional information about reporting injured manatees or sea turtles is on our website.

Nuisance Animals

Nuisance wildlife is wildlife that...

  • causes (or is about to cause) property damage,
  • presents a threat to public safety, or
  • causes an annoyance within, under or upon a building.

Human activities can attract certain wildlife species looking for an easy high-calorie meal or shelter under a convenient structure. Unfortunately this can bring them into conflict with the interests of people, and the wildlife can be considered to be a nuisance.  Most wildlife/human conflicts can be resolved by removing the attractant.  If removing the attractant is not feasible or has been tried and is not working, other measures to remove nuisance wild animals can be taken. Trapping a nuisance animal should be a matter of last resort.  Before removing an animal, please read the nuisance wildlife regulations and information.

Wildlife that cannot be taken

The taking of nuisance alligatorsdeerbearsbatsbobcats, most migratory birds, their nests or eggsturkeysbobwhite quail; or state-listed or federally listed species of special concern, threatened or endangered species is prohibited or may require additional permits.

Protected and regulated species

You can learn more about the rules regarding wild animals online.  Most regulations for wildlife are found in Ch. 68A of the Florida Administrative Code.

Nuisance Alligators

Alligators are considered a nuisance when they are more than four feet in length, and are determined to be a threat to the welfare of the public, or the public's pets, livestock, or property. Only a licensed nuisance alligator trapper may capture or remove an alligator. More information about living with alligators is available on this website.

If you need to report a nuisance alligator, call toll-free, 866-FWC-GATOR (866-392-4286).

You can find more information about Nuisance Alligators online.

Nuisance Bear

If a bear is seen around your neighborhood, it is important to immediately discourage repeat visits. What you can do is determine if there are any attractants in your neighborhood that will cause the bear to return.  If you have unsecured garbage, pet food, barbecue grills, or other food items available in your yard, you should secure those items as soon as possible. A nuisance bear is one that looks for handouts, hangs around because it thinks food is available, or becomes aggressive, etc.  More information about living with bears is available on this website. If you have a nuisance bear in your neighborhood or on your property, please contact your local FWC regional office or call the Wildlife Alert hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922).

Nuisance Deer

White-tailed deer will occasionally cause damage to cultivated crops.  For small gardens, this situation often can be improved by installing an inexpensive electric fence.  When it is not possible to install an electric fence or deterrent fence, and under special restrictions, deer causing damage to crops can be harassed (scared) with a gun and light at night, when authorized.  Find out more information on the Gun and Light at Night Permit.

In cases where a Gun and Light at Night Permit is not eliminating the depredation or is not feasible, and in situations where deer are causing extreme damage to a crop, contact your local FWC regional office to request a Depredating Deer permit for temporary relief.

Protected Fish and Wildlife

A FWC permit is required for take of any state listed species. Protected fish and wildlife include those species listed as endangered, threatened or species of special concern. FWC rules prohibit activities that may have a negative effect on protected fish and wildlife without a permit.  More information about living with wildlife is available on this website.

Rabid Animals

The Florida Department of Health (DOH) is agency primarily responsible for rabies response, prevention, treatment and control.  If you suspect an animal of having rabies or if someone has been bitten, contact the local County Health Department.  Public health staff will investigate animal bite reports.  The DOH can request help from the Sheriff's office, Animal Control or the FWC, but their staff will make that decision. View the listing of Florida County Health Departments at www.doh.state.fl.us/chdsitelist.htm.

For more information about rabies control and prevention in Florida, visit the DOH on the Web at: http://www.floridahealth.gov/diseases-and-conditions/rabies/index.html.

Migratory Bird and Waterfowl Problems

In the spring, bird species around the state start to build nests. Occasionally, this nesting behavior comes into conflict with human activities. Nuisance bird issues are not as easy to mitigate as nuisance mammal issues. Most birds are protected by the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Joint state-federal permits are issued under very limited circumstances to keep or remove native wild birds or their eggs or nests. For information on Migratory Bird and Eagle Permits, visit the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).

For more information contact the FWC's Division of Habitat & Species Conservation, Species Conservation and Planning Section. Often, nesting birds will use the nest for only a month or so before their young are ready to go. It is usually advisable to leave these birds alone until they are done with their nesting cycle.

Migratory nongame birds that cause damage to trees, crops, livestock or wildlife, or that are concentrated in such numbers that they are nuisance, may be taken with permits issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service by calling 404-679-7070.  Blackbirds, grackles, cowbirds and American crows can be taken without permits when they are causing damage.

You can find a comprehensive list of birds protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA).

Information about dealing with problem ducks or geese is available on our waterfowl website.

If you are experiencing a problem with roosting vultures, please contact USDA Wildlife Services APHIS Wildlife at 352-377-5556 or toll free at 866-487-3297 for assistance in scaring off the birds.

Dealing with Aggressive Raptors

Birds of prey, also called raptors, include hawks, eagles, falcons and owls. Each spring and summer, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) receives reports of raptors diving at people. These incidents, which are usually caused by hawks, have happened in both urban and suburban areas. Most of these events occur during the nesting season and near an active nest where there are chicks or eggs.  The raptors dive at people who come too close to the nest. The birds view those people as threats to the nest and the babies.  In many cases, the birds dive at people but don't make contact. However, there have been injuries from these birds when they do make contact. Reports show that the birds may dive at people as far as 150 feet away from their nests.  To learn how to handle this situation, read our guide to dealing with aggressive raptors.

Source: http://myfwc.com/conservation/you-conserve/assistnuisance-wildlife/

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Interesting Facts About Nuisance Wildlife

Learn about some wild animals that could be living right in your own backyard

There are many wild animals native to the United States that people likely encounter on a near-daily basis, sometimes without even realizing it. These common backyard creatures have found ways to co-exist with humans, which unfortunately can lead them to become nuisance pests and even occasional health threats. Though these wild animals may not always be a welcome sight for homeowners, they do have some interesting characteristics!

Squirrels are fierce fighters.

Squirrel varieties can be found in every region of the United States. A group of squirrels is called a scurry. Squirrels are extremely territorial and will even fight to the death to defend their area. Mother squirrels are especially vicious when protecting their babies. Squirrels frequently enter attics and chimneys in the winter. To keep them out, seal all possible points of entry around the house, screen vents and openings to chimneys and keep tree limbs cut back six to eight feet from the roofline.

Raccoons will eat almost anything.

Raccoons are omnivores and will eat just about anything, including fish, mice, insects, stolen eggs and human trash. Raccoons also sometimes "wash" their food by rapidly dunking it in water before eating. Their adaptable eating habits have allowed them to make themselves at home in many environments, from forests and marshes to cities and the suburbs. Homeowners should be sure to store trash cans and recycling bins in sealed areas or with animal-proof lids to keep raccoons, which are frequent carriers of rabies, off their property.

Opossums are good actors.

Opossums are the only marsupials found in North America. Female opossums give birth to young as tiny as honey bees that immediately crawl into their mother's pouch where their development continues. Typically, fewer than half of opossum young survive in to adulthood. Opossums are known for "playing dead" when threatened by predators. They will fall onto their sides and lie on the ground, extend their tongues and either close their eyes or stare straight in to space. Do not approach an opossum in this state, as they have sharp teeth and in rare cases may bite if they feel threatened. Opossums have been known to create messy dens in homeowner's attics and garages.

Bats are often protected by law.

Bats are protected by law in most states, so it is important to check with animal control or wildlife services for any regulations before bat-proofing your home. The best time to bat-proof is the beginning of autumn, when bats leave for hibernation. Bats can pose serious health threats to humans if they are not removed from structures; bat droppings can harbor a fungus that causes lung disease.

Voles are small, but mighty.

Voles, also known as meadow mice or field mice, are a type of rodent that can be found in most regions of the United States. They are active year-round, and do not hibernate. Their populations tend to fluctuate and are dependent on factors such as food quality, climate and physiological stress. Voles construct many tunnels with various burrow entrances and can cause extensive damage to orchards, young trees and field crops. They're even capable of ruining lawns and golf courses with their extensive tunnel systems.

Groundhogs are true hibernators.

Groundhogs are among the few mammals that enter into true hibernation, which generally starts in late fall near the end of October and continues until late February. These rodents will gorge themselves all summer to build up their fat reserves. After the first frost, they enter their underground burrows and hibernate until spring, where they survive off of their accumulated body fat. During hibernation, the groundhog's heart rate plunges and its body temperature will not be much higher than that inside the burrow. To keep groundhogs out of crawlspaces, it is important to inspect homes for access points, such as broken vent covers or holes in the foundation. Burrowing groundhogs have been known to destroy building foundations.

If you're noticing a rodent issue please contact a Professional such as Rodent Solutions for rodent removal in your Sarasota and/or Bradenton Home and/or Office. - Call 941-704-0063

Source: http://www.pestworld.org/

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Winter's Chill Drives Rodents Indoors

Across the country, chilly temperatures and early snowstorms are forcing more than just people indoors. Rodents including micerats and squirrels are seeking food, water and shelter in homes. Unfortunately, more bad weather could be on the way as the Farmers' Almanac is forecasting a season of unusually cold and stormy weather. The National Pest Management Association (NPMA) encourages homeowners to take the necessary steps to protect themselves and their families from rodent infestations during colder months.

"Rodents invade an estimated 21 million homes in the United States every winter," said Missy Henriksen, vice president of public affairs for NPMA. "But with many places already experiencing cold weather conditions, it is important to be proactive and vigilant in preventing these pests from becoming unwelcome houseguests."

The accumulation of feces from mice and rats can spread bacteria and contaminate food sources. These rodent droppings are known to trigger allergies and cause diseases including Hantavirus and Salmonella. In addition to health risks, rodents can chew through wallboards, cardboard, wood and even electrical wiring, increasing the risk of a house fire.

NPMA offers the following tips to avoid a rodent infestation:

  • Store items in boxes and plastic sealed containers, rather than cardboard boxes.
  • Keep food in airtight containers and dispose of garbage regularly.
  • Install screens over chimney vents and openings.
  • Seal cracks and holes on the outside of the home, including areas where utilities and pipes enter the home.
  • Replace loose mortar and weather stripping around basement foundation and windows.
  • Install gutters or diverts to channel water away from your home.
  • Store firewood at least 20 feet from the home and five feet off the ground.
  • Inspect wires, insulation and walls for any signs of gnaw marks.
  • If you find rodent feces, hear sounds of scurrying in the walls or observe other signs of an infestation, contact a licensed pest professional.

For more information about household pests and to find a local pest professional, visit www.pestworld.org.

Source: http://www.pestworld.org/news-hub/press-releases/early-arrival-of-winter-weather-drives-rodents-indoors/

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Rodents Fear Men (Women, Not So Much)

Men stress out rodents, according to a new study, which found that even the smell of a man could elicit fear in mice and rats.

The study, published in the latest issue of Nature Methods, demonstrates how the hardwiring of some animals may cause them to react differently toward men or women. It has important applications for laboratory studies involving rodents, since the sex of the experimenter could affect research outcomes.

Jeffrey Mogil of McGill University’s Department of Psychology and colleagues used what is known as “the mouse grimace scale” to compare mouse responses to pain in the presence of male or female experimenters. Reading about this study may make some grimace, themselves.

The researchers induced pain in mice via injections of an inflammatory agent. They then compared facial grimacing of the mice in the presence of either a male or a female experimenter.

Mogil and his team noted a marked reduction in pain sensation, known as “stress-induced analgesia,” when a man conducted the experiment. In keeping with that finding, the mice in the presence of men also showed increases in body temperature and corticosterone levels. Corticosterone is a stress hormone.

The same thing happened when the female experimenters donned T-shirts that previously had been worn by men, strongly suggesting that the odor of the men is what triggered the stress.

The rodents left behind their own smelly evidence.

“Supporting the assertion that exposure to male odor is stressful is the significant increase in fecal boli deposited by mice in the 30-minute testing period in which they were exposed to male, but not female, worn t-shirts,” the researchers wrote.

It could be that testosterone or male pheromones trigger fear in rodents, but the exact reasons remain a mystery.

Pet rodents doted on by male caretakers seem to display no such fear, so it may be possible that life experiences can overcome any mice or rat predispositions.

Laboratory animals, however, obviously don’t receive that kind of pet pampering, so the study could have far-reaching implications for future research involving mice, rats and other rodents.

As Mogil and his team conclude, “Our findings strongly suggest that standard laboratory practice should account for experimenter sex when investigating any phenomenon possibly affected by stress.”

Source: http://news.discovery.com/

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When New Yorkers see something scurrying, they say something and that has brought rat complaints to the city's 311 hotline to a recent high of more than 24,000 so far this year, officials said on Thursday.

"The rats are taking over," New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer told Reuters. "I'm a lifelong New Yorker and I've never seen it this bad... I see them on my way home, they're standing upright, they say, 'Good morning, Mr. Comptroller.'"

With more than two months of grumbling still left in 2015, rodent-related grievances were already at 24,375 as of Wednesday, said Mayor Bill de Blasio spokeswoman Natalie Grybauskas. That's up from 20,545 in 2014 and 19,321 in 2013. And that's just above-ground rats - complaints about vermin in the subway are routed to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and not recorded by the 311 line, Grybauskas said.

A city Health Department rodent expert, Carolyn Bragdon, laid the blame, in part, on a new 311 mobile phone app in use since February 2014, making it easier to rat out the pests to the city's hotline that has been operating since 2003.

"Whenever you launch a new vehicle for complaints, you tend to see increases," Bragdon said. "Over 90 percent of the increase in complaints was due to the app."

So far this year, rat complaints consisted of 17,356 calls, 2,347 online remarks and 4,672 mobile app entries, statistics show. Last year there were 16,964 calls, 2,361 online remarks and 1,220 mobile app entries.

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