About Rats and Mice

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There are many species of rodents, including squirrels, chipmunks, beavers, prairie dogs, rats and mice. Rodents native to the United States play an important role in the health of grasslands and forest, and are a major source of food for many predators and scavengers, including hawks, fox, bobcats, and even wolves. However, some types of rodents, especially non-native species including the Norway rat, the roof rat and house mice are pests when they infest houses, threaten public health, and destroy property. They can damage or destroy critical habitats, native plants and animals, crops, property, and food supplies.

Why Be Concerned

Each year, rodents cause significant damage to property, crops, and food supplies across the United States.  In addition to damaging property, rodents may also spread diseases, posing a serious risk to public health.  Rodent-borne diseases can be transferred directly to humans through:

  • Bite wounds.
  • Consumption of food and/or water or breathing dust contaminated by rodent droppings and other waste products.
  • Indirectly by way of ticks, mites, and fleas that transmit the infection to humans after feeding on infected rodents.

What YOU Can Do

The most important steps in eliminating and preventing rodent infestations are:

  • keeping living spaces clean;
  • preventing rodent access; and
  • eliminating potential nesting areas.

More information on identifying and preventing rodent infestations.

Educational Video: "Infestations Vacations"

This short video, produced by Howard University's CapComm Lab, the Earth Conservation Corps, and EPA, takes a humorous look at how conditions inside the home can provide food, water, and shelter where pests can thrive, and provides practical ways to prevent infestations.