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The commensal rodent species considered as pests in Britain are:
- The Norway, common, sewer or brown rat
- The ship, roof or black rat
- The house mouse
Most rodents are not happy at living with humans. A few however thrive in and around man-made environments. These rodents are called “commensal” rodents: effectively they “live off man’s table”.
Due to rising urban populations, these species have become well adapted to living in all types of environment and climates.
The Norway Rat is found worldwide, mainly in developed towns and cities where refuse collects and drains and sewers have been introduced. It is by far the most common of the two rat species found in the UK, in both urban and rural areas. It lives largely outdoors, but will find its way inside via drainage defects and gaps in walls or climbing up rough surfaces behind pipes to gain entry into buildings.
The Norway Rat lives communally often constructing complex burrow systems with multiple points of entry and exits, with interconnecting tunnels and chambers for storing food.
The Ship Rat is quite rare in the UK these days, though occasionally found in ports or towns linked to ports with canals.
The House Mouse is mainly a house dweller and prefers dry conditions, as, due to their small size, if they get wet it is difficult for them to retain body heat, though they cope with cold conditions as long as it is dry.
Extremely adaptable, the house mouse is probably, after man, the most numerous mammal on the earth. They are well adapted to living with humans and exploiting the environments that humans create.
The three commensal rodent species are generally considered pests because of their adverse effects upon human populations. Spreading disease to humans and to livestock and the economic damage they cause to foodstuffs and structures.
Causing damage, such as gnawing through cables and food packaging. Spreading disease, such as Weils disease and Salmonella. (Via contaminated rodent faeces and urine and carrying pests on themselves, such as fleas and ticks.)
Rodents can breed even more efficiently than rabbits and sizeable infestations can develop extremely quickly from a single pair!
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