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Thursday, October 30, 2014
Vectors
RATS

rats Rat educational material. Click on the thumbnail to download the PDF.

The roof rat (Rattus rattus) is agile and slender, with a tail longer than its head and body. Roof rats frequently enter buildings and move about neighborhoods by using utility lines and fences as runways. They prefer to feed on wild bird seed, pet food and many of the fruits and nuts (including those that people do not eat) commonly found in residential backyards. To see a video of a rat eating dog food, click here.

Certain landscape plants are used as homes by roof rats and other flea-carrying animals. Many plants native to California are good choices for landscape use and do not encourage rats. For a list of suggested native plants, click here.

Disease

Rats and their fleas are capable of transmitting a variety of human diseases. Among the diseases transmitted by rats, bubonic plague is perhaps the best known and the most serious. County residents are fortunate because there have been no outbreaks of plague in Orange County in recent history. The potential of such outbreaks could increase if rat populations are allowed to increase unchecked.

Flea-borne typhus is another rat-borne disease that exists in certain areas of Orange County. This disease, like plague, can be transmitted by rat fleas.

 

Recognizing Roof Rat Activity

The homeowner should be aware of these signs of roof rat activity:

Partially eaten fruit and vegetables. To see a video of fruit eaten by rats, click here. Eaten Oranges
Snail shells under bushes, on fences, or near nesting sites.  
Signs of gnawing on plastic, wood, or rubber materials. Larvae
Rub marks caused by rats' oily fur coming in repeated contact with surfaces or objects. Pupae
Rat droppings are usually signs of significant rat activity. The droppings are randomly scattered on a runway, feeding location, or shelter. Droppings are dark in color, spindle shaped and about 1/2 inch long.

 
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