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Introduction

Rodents can be destructive, dangerous, and threaten the health of people and pets. This justifies rodent management, and why they should not be tolerated where people live, work, learn or play:

Food Contamination

Rodents contaminate countertops, cabinets, and food. Their urine, droppings, and corpses can contain pathogens that affect human health and contaminate every stage of the food production chain. Estimates suggest they’re responsible for billions of dollars of damage to the food supply each year.

Physical Damage

Whether by chewing or burrowing, rodent activities damage structures.

  • Gnawing: rodents use powerful jaws and strong teeth to chew through materials and access perceived resources. This can include weather stripping on doors, building materials (wood, sheetrock, etc.), dumpster lids, and, particularly dangerous, gnawing on electrical wires. It is thought that a percentage of building fires with an unknown cause might be due to rodents chewing wires.
Photo shows a black wire on a white background. The wire has several vertical indentations from rodent gnawing.
Rodent gnaw marks on a wire.
Rat gnawing damage on wooden door
In heavy infestations or in places where rodents wish to enter, they can gnaw through various types of materials. These wooden doors in a school show evidence of rodent gnawing, which created a large enough gap for them to fit below (1/2 inch high).
  • Burrowing: Norway rat burrowing can damage plant roots and ornamental plantings.  Infrastructure including sidewalks, statues, and other objects can be undermined and collapse.
Photo shows two rows of evergreen plants along a wall with tall buildings in the background. Four plants in the back row and two plants in the front row are tan colored and dead.
Norway rats can damage landscape plantings when they burrow in the soil and disturb the roots.

Pathogens

Rodents are known carriers of pathogens (disease-causing organisms) transmitted to people in two ways:

Photo shows an unfinished and unpainted space. The bottom of the picture is a light brown material and lots of small black rodent droppings are littered across the surface.
Rodents are cryptic and move in places out of sight. Inspections in drop ceilings can reveal droppings from rodent activity.
  • Direct Transmission: rodents can contaminate surfaces or food items with droppings, urine or dead bodies. Cleaning up dry rodent droppings without using a mask is the primary route of exposure for one type of Hantavirus. Norway rats have also been known to bite the young, elderly, or individuals with limited mobility, who might have food residue on their bodies during sleep.
  • Indirect Transmission: rodents can host arthropod vectors (insects, ticks, and mites). Fleas, lice, and mites that feed on rodents can transmit pathogens and parasites to people and pets. Particularly, fleas that feed on rodents may acquire and transmit several serious pathogens that cause human diseases.

Allergens

Components of rodent urine are a known source of allergens that can lead to asthma.