Rats and Mice are well known for spreading diseases such as plague, weils disease and cryptospridiosis but this article focuses on their gnawing behaviour, why they do it and what risks it presents to public health.
Rodents are characterised by their teeth. They have a pair of incisor teeth in the upper and lower jaws, separated from the molars by a large gap (diastema).
The incisors do not stop growing. This means that the animals are forced to gnaw steadily in order to wear them down.
This picture shows a skull from a rodent specimen who’s incisors hadn’t worn correctly and had become overgrown.
The incisors are curved inwards and have an extremely hard anterior coating,The enamel of rat incisors is hard, harder than iron, platinum and copper.
The softer inside layer is worn down much more rapidly than the hard, outer layer.This means that the teeth are continually kept sharp, enabling them to damage even materials such as masonry and electric cables.
Rats are believed to have caused a massive blaze that destroyed three coaches and three minibuses at a coach company headquarters in Southampton in December of 2012.
The rat has small flaps of cheek tissue on either side of the inside of the mouth that close behind the incisors, protruding into the gap between the incisors and the molars (the diastema) These flaps are believed to form a plug that keeps unwanted debris from entering the mouth,a rat does not have to swallow or even taste what it chews,allowing them to gnaw away with impunity.
Here, we have the skull of Rattus norwegicus, The Brown rat, the incisors and diastema are clearly visible.
Next, A Grey Squirrel, Sciurus Carolinensis.
Here we see the very clear teethmarks of a brown rat on a piece of electrical cable.
this is an old bait tray, that would have held rodenticides once, it would appear that the local rodent population not only consumed the bait but found themselves partial to the plastic tray themselves.
If you suspect that you have rodents in your property, The safest and most efficient way to deal with them is to contact a professional pest control company, such as Cavalry Pest Solutions.