Rodents in and Around Perth in Western Australia
Among the many pest species found throughout Perth and the broader Western Australia area, rodents can be among the most troublesome. These pests can do incredible damage to property and agricultural interests, and some even manage to infiltrate human dwellings and business structures. Once inside, they wreak even more havoc on the lives of the buildings’ owners. Many also carry disease or other parasites along with them, creating a health hazard for humans and pets in the area. Understanding these rodent pests is key to learning how to handle them when they infest your property or homes.
The House Mouse (Mus musculus)
The house mouse is one of the most common rodent pests found in Perth homes and businesses, which is just what you would expect from one of the most adaptable creatures on the planet. These animals are often mistaken for brown rats due to their size and coloring, but their big ears and tiny feet make them easier to distinguish on closer inspection.
Mice tend to be ground-dwellers, though they are capable of some impressive climbing when they are intent on getting to various food sources. A single mouse can do some damage to your home, but their real threat is tied to their prolific breeding. Since they mature quickly and reproduce within months after being born, an initial infestation of mice in your home can quickly translate into your house being almost literally overrun by these pests. Worse, their cumulative damage to the home can be quite dramatic in its severity.
As they multiply, mice tend to construct multiple nests throughout your home – often inside your walls. This often occurs long before you become aware of the problem, since mice are nocturnal creatures which are seldom seen during the day. Often times, homeowners have no idea mice are there until they have already been firmly established for some time. That is when the signs of their presence start to become more evident.
These signs include mouse droppings that are often scattered in cupboards both high and low, inside closets, boxes, and other accessible containers, or underneath furniture and long the walls. Basically, mouse droppings can be found at any location that is out of general sight, since mice tend to remain close to walls or under objects such as furniture when they run through the home.
The more obvious sign for people who are awake at any time during the night are the unmistakable sounds of mouse squeaks, scratching in the walls or under furniture, and tiny footsteps. Most people who discover that they have mice in their homes have heard at least one of these sounds prior to confirming the creature’s presence.
Finally, mouse urine has an easily distinguishable ammonia odor that lingers for days. If you smell that odor, you can be almost certain that you have mice living somewhere in your home. At that point, it is important to take action before serious damage can occur. Remember, rodents are not means to co-exist in that way with humans, so they need to be removed at the earliest opportunity.
Removal can be accomplished using traps baited with various delectable such as peanut butter, or with commercially available poisoned bait – though the latter is not recommended for homes with small children or pets. The best option, of course, is to contact a pest removal company and have them deal with the problem. They typically have the most effective solutions for any given situation, and can also help you make any necessary changes to ensure that the animals don’t regain access to your home once they’ve been removed.
The Roof Rat (Rattus rattus)
The roof rat is sometimes known as the black rat, or the ship rat – the latter owing to the way in which it has migrated from continent to continent aboard explorer and trader ships in the past. This is the type of rat that was primarily responsible for carrying the plague around the world hundreds of years ago, and was a prime culprit in launching the Black Death that killed as much as sixty percent of the European population in the Fourteenth Century. Today, it is still a disease-carrying creature, but does most of its damage in a more direct manner.
Roof rats typically enter homes through the roof, gaining access to the home by climbing trees and walking across overhanging branches. Because of that, homeowners should work to ensure that they keep tree branches trimmed away from the home. Once inside the home, these rats make nests and breed prolifically. They also make an utter mess of things, as they defecate and urinate everywhere they go, chew on cardboard, paper, wood, and other materials, and search for food wherever it might be found.
Fruit, insects, seeds, and leaves are among their favorite food sources. With that said, they are not particularly selective about what they eat and will just as happily get into your dog or cat’s food dish as well. They will basically consume any food that is available, including cereal, sugar, and other common foodstuffs found in human habitations. That flexibility is part of what has helped them to survive in virtually every environment on earth.
The Norway Rat (Rattus norvegicus)
Like its black rat cousin, the Norway rat is commonly found in Perth homes and businesses, as well as in sewer systems and burrows near garages and sheds. They too can carry disease, and also chew on just about anything that they encounter. Cereals are their preferred food, and that can be a real problem for homeowners with children in the house.
This variety of rat tends to find entry into the home at the lower levels, usually through cracks in outer walls or other weaknesses in the structure. Once inside, they build nests in the walls and breed in large numbers. They too defecate throughout the home, raid pet food and other food sources, and make a general nuisance of themselves in short order.
The Menace Posed by Rats and How to Deal with Them
Rats pose two special problems as pests: they are disease carriers and thus represent a health hazard to humans and other animals alike, and they are extremely destructive. Aside from the aforementioned plague that the black rat has a history of carrying, rats can also carry everything from the hantavirus to viral hemorrhagic fever. They also spoil human and pet food supplies with their droppings, which can make both people and animals ill if those foods are consumed.
As for destruction, the constant chewing is by itself more than sufficient to make them poor houseguests. Even so, the focus of that damage can be even worse. Rats target furniture, boxes that may contain precious heirlooms and keepsakes, base and floorboards, and even telephone and electrical wires. The danger of chewed electrical wires is especially troublesome since that damage can leave wires exposed and potentially lead to a higher risk of fire.
The detection of rats is similar to the way in which homeowners first learn that they have a mouse problem. There are typically scratching sounds in the night as these creatures go about their nightly chewing rituals. Sometimes you can hear them scampering around overhead or in lower level rooms. They also tend to leave droppings throughout the home, especially in hard to see locations that are along their travel routes. Finally, you can often find smears along the bottom of your walls, since the rats have grease and dirt buildup that often causes such streaks on solid surfaces that they rub against when they move.
Once identified, it is important to take action immediately. While some people find rats to be similar to mice when it comes to the “cuteness factor” no one should make the mistake of assuming that these creatures are safe to be around. Instead, contact a professional rat removal expert so that your home can be cleansed of these creatures as quickly as possible.
Pest removal companies use a combination of chemical and physical trapping methods to eliminate rat infestations, relying on state-of-the-art baiting systems to attract the animals. The goal is always two-pronged: eliminate the current infestation entirely, and then implement safeguards that can help to ensure that your structure remains rat-free in the future.
Rat removal typically requires several days to begin to show results, since rats are hesitant to approach new objects. Once they become accustomed to it, they will begin to explore it and eat the food used for bait. Over time, the entire nest – which can contain more than a dozen family members – will find the traps and eventually die.
Once the problem has been eliminated, your pest control experts will work to help you seal access points to your home to prevent future rat infestations. This may require recommendations for removing overhanging tree branches, moving wood piles, compost heaps, and other attractive features as far from the home as possible, and sealing any cracks or other areas in the home where these pests can enter.
PLEASE NOTE: The below are marsupials and are not rodents, they are protected by Australian law.
The Possum Problem
Possums prefer to live in the wild and are commonly found in tree hollows when in their natural habitat. Sadly, as more bushland disappears, there is less natural habitat for them to nest in, and that has led to more of these marsupials making their way into the yards and homes of Perth residents. It is important to recognize that possums are extremely territorial, so when their natural habitats are destroyed they simply take refuge where they can find it. For Perth denizens, that often means the roofs of human habitations.
There are two types of possums found in Western Australia, the brushtail and the ring-tailed. The brushtail is typically about the size of a domestic cat and can weigh as much as 5 kgs. It has grey fur, pointed ears, and a brush-like tail tipped with white fur – for which it is named, of course. This variety of possum is typically found in chimneys and spaces in the roof of homes and businesses. The ring-tailed variety is less common in the Perth area. It is smaller, reaches weights of roughly 1 kg, and has dark brown top fur with grey fur underneath. It has a long tail, tapered to a white tip, and prefers to live in foliage above ground level so that it remains safe from predators.
The main threat from possums is the damage that they do to homes and gardens. Roof-dwelling possums leave droppings around their nest, as well as urine. This waste can create unpleasant odors that can often be difficult to locate. Worse, urine can gather and soak through ceiling tiles and create foul-smelling stains. In addition, possums are liker rats and mice, in that they gnaw on everything in sight. That can include electrical wires, which can result in fires that create even more devastation. Out in your yard, possums are attracted to various flowers and fruits and can thus do serious damage to gardens and flowerbeds.
Possums are a protected species, so your only real option is to catch them and release them away from your home, or call in a professional pest control company and have them do it for you. The professionals have specific trap systems that can effectively capture these marsupials, and get them ready for transport to a more natural habitat. Homeowners should always consider calling in the professionals, if only to avoid the possibility of running afoul of the law by harming these protected animals.
The Quokka Quandary
Quokka are another marsupial species that can prove troublesome for residents of Perth – despite reports of declining populations in some areas due to changing environmental conditions that threaten their natural habitats. Though they are not technically rodents, these creatures can be as troublesome and just as difficult to detect and remove.
Those who are aware of quokkas may only know their reputation as cute little social animals that hop around like kangaroos (they are in the same family, after all). For the most part, quokka tend to congregate primarily on Rottnest Island, where tens of thousands of them are gathered in clans. Smaller populations live on the mainland, and it is these creatures who sometimes end up on Perth properties where they pose a threat to gardens and flowerbeds and occasionally find their way into homes. The quokka is another protected species, so residents who encounter them should contact pest removal experts so that they can be captured and removed from the premises.
The bandicoot is a marsupial pest that can also pose problems for homeowners and businesses in Perth. Also known as quendas, these creatures were once widespread across Western Australia, but are now believed to be much more scarce in numbers. Due to changes in habitat, the southern brown bandicoot has struggled to survive in Perth’s urban and suburban areas. Still, these rabbit-sized native marsupials are problematic when they come into contact with human habitations.
The main challenge presented by bandicoots is the damage they do to lawns and gardens. While conservationists are quick to focus on the fact that these creatures dig holes that aerate the lawn, and eat insects and grubs that might otherwise damage your vegetables and flowers, the fact is that most homeowners find that the damage outweighs any presumed benefits. As a result, when such infestations occur homeowners naturally want the creatures removed.
And therein lies the real challenge. Because the bandicoot is a protected species, you have to be careful not to harm one lest you incur a fine. That leaves only two real options: install fencing and other measures to prevent them from gaining access to your property in the first place, or contact a pest removal company to capture and transport them when they are discovered.
Quick Action is Important
Whether you are dealing with rodents or marsupials that share many of the same troubling characteristics, it is important to take action as soon as a problem appears. Rodents are by nature territorial, so once a family has made its residence within your home, it is likely to remain there until you forcibly evict it. Meanwhile, they spread filth, illness, and destruction throughout the home.
While marsupials are generally not as physically dangerous to humans or pets, they can be equally destructive to your property – and in particular to your yard and garden. Since many of the more common marsupial pests are also protected by law, it is always risky to try to remove them on your own. Still, they must be removed for your sake and theirs.
Both rodents and marsupials are best removed by competent professionals with the baiting and trapping experience needed to properly do the job. That can help to ensure that every rat, mouse, and other mammal pest is completely eliminated from your home and yard, while saving you the trouble of having to deal with dangerous chemicals and sometimes costly trapping systems. More importantly, you can rest assured that the problem is being dealt with in a way that makes your property completely rodent-free.