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Do you have a rodent problem?

 

 

 

 

 

Do you have a rodent problem? 

Here are some signs and tips for determining whether you have a rodent infestation in your home:

Rodent Droppings
New droppings are dark and moist. As droppings age, they dry out and become old and gray and will easily crumble if touched. Droppings are most likely to be found near food packages, in drawers or cupboards, under sinks, in hidden areas, and along rodent runways. You will find the greatest number of droppings where the rodents are nesting or feeding, so inspect the area around the new-found droppings to determine if there is still an active – or new – infestation.

Animal Gnawing
In contrast to the droppings, newer gnaw marks will be lighter in color and become darker as they age. These will often be found on food packaging or the structure of the house itself. One way to determine age is to compare a gnaw mark you just noticed with those on a similar material that you know are older. If the newly found marks are lighter in color, it could be an indication of a continuing infestation.

The marks can also indicate whether you have rats or mice; larger gnaw marks will have been produced by the larger teeth of rats. Thus if you had a mouse infestation, but are now seeing larger gnaw marks, you may now have rats. And vice versa.

Foul Odor
Cats and dogs (or even a pet rat or mouse), may become active and excited in areas where rodents are present.

This is a result of the odor of the rodents and is most likely to occur when rodents have recently entered a structure. If you see your pet pawing at an area in which it had previously had no interest, get a flashlight and examine the area for rats or mice.  If an infestation is large, you may also detect an ongoing stale smell coming from hidden areas, indicating an active infestation.

Rodent Tracks and Runways
If rodents are currently active in or around your home, their runways and tracks are likely to be distinctive, becoming fainter as time passes. Tracks or runways are most easily detected with a flashlight or blacklight held at an angle toward the suspected area. You may see smudge marks, footprints, urine stains, or droppings. If you suspect an area is being frequented by rodents, try placing a very thin layer of flour or baby powder there. If rodents are active, you are likely to see their trails in the powder.

Rodent Nests
Rodents will use materials such as shredded paper, fabric, or dried plant matter to make their nests. If these areas are found and have any of the other signs of current presence – fresh droppings, gnawing, odor or tracks – it is likely that there is an infestation in your home.

Signs of Rodents in your Yard
Rodents are attracted to piles of trash, organic waste, etc. for both food and nesting. If these are present near the home or structure, inspect them for signs of rodents. If there is no indication of rodents, it is likely that they are not coming into your home either. But if you do have such piles present, eliminating them can help prevent future rodent problems.

Rodent Population Size
Certain signs can also indicate the size of a population. If rodents are seen at night but never during the day, the population has probably not gotten too large and can be controlled with traps and bait. If you are seeing any rodents during the day, numerous fresh droppings or new gnaw marks, it is likely that the population has gotten quite large and require professional services.

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by: Pam Eubanks Senior Editor, yourobserver.com
 

Joe and Yvette Giangreco have lived in their Summerfield home for 20 years, but last year was the first time they realized rats lived in their neighborhood.

It was August and in her bedroom at 4 a.m., Yvette Greco heard a loud noise. A few days later, she heard it again.

“There was something in the attic,” she said. “It was so loud. It turned out to be a raccoon.”

A pest control company came to remove the animal, and in the process, discovered the Giangrecos had rats living in their attic as well. The company caught two, and the Giangrecos had their home safeguarded against pests by having openings along the roof sealed.

 

The Giangrecos said they have seen dead rats on sidewalks and in other areas of the community.

“Our goal is to alert the residents, not just in Lakewood Ranch, to let them know what to look for and be proactive to try to prevent them,” Yvette Giangreco said.

“If it wasn’t for the raccoon, we wouldn’t have known,” Joe Giangreco said. “To me, it’s a health and safety concern.”

Fellow Summerfield resident Nancy Morningstar also is unsettled by the number of rats in the area, whether it’s common to Florida or not.

“I’m not used to it,” she said. “I had one dead in my car about two months ago. I’m just not sure what’s attracting them. None of us put garbage out except on pickup day and that’s in a container.”

Although Manatee County has no extension office rodent expert, Carol Wyatt-Evens, an agent for the University of Florida IFAS Extension Office in Sarasota County, said she has seen an increase in the reports of rats.

James Knight, owner of Rodent Solutions in Lakewood Ranch, helped the Giangrecos with their rat problem and said the East County area keeps his staff busy.

“It is a problem, and it’s getting worse,” he said, noting natural habitat is being cleared for development and new communities are designed with retention ponds, landscaping and other features that naturally attract the animals. “It’s getting worse because we’re moving people in.”

Gaps along rooflines can become entry points for rodents looking for places to stay warm or build a nest. Knight said they only need a hole the size of a quarter to enter.

Knight said the most common types of rats in this area are roof rats, who have extra pads on their feet that enable them to scale the side of a stucco house. Birds of prey and snakes will eat them, so keeping them out of the house is the most important step.

Wyatt-Evens said if you don’t hire a professional to seal off gaps, you can stuff steel wool into openings to have the same effect. Rats cannot eat through the steel.

“It’s very pliable. You can put it in small areas,” Wyatt-Evens said. “It’s for people who don’t want to hire a pest control operator. If someone wants to do it themselves, you are providing the same protection. If you have traps out, check them daily.”

Rats also don’t like mothballs, so you can place mothballs in your attic.

Both she and Knight advocate against rodenticides because they can affect other animals, such as a dog or hawk that eats a poisoned rat.

“You can’t prevent rats from being in the wild any more than you can prevent coyotes. What are you going to do?” Knight said. “ Are you going to kill them all? If you have things outside, you can minimize it with habitat modification.”

Knight and Wyatt-Evens said prevention is the best solution. Some best practices include picking up leaves and fruit dropped by trees, removing bird or squirrel feeders from yards and picking up piles of debris.

If you have palm trees, remove the nuts.

“When we go in attics and do decontaminations, you can find hundreds of those, nuts from different trees all over the place,” Knight said. “You are reducing their food supply so it’s making them less likely to want to hang around.”

Source: https://www.yourobserver.com/article/homeowners-focus-on-rodent-control

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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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