The black rat, also called the roof rat, is the primary host for bubonic plague, which is transmitted to humans by direct contact or through the bites of fleas that have fed on infected rats. The black rat is believed to have come originally from southern or southeastern Asia. Although the first written record of it in Europe was not until the 1200s, a 1979 announcement of the discovery in a sealed well of the bones of two black rats, radiocarbon-dated to about the 4th century, places the black rat in Britain hundreds of years before the plagues there of the 6th and 7th centuries.
The Norway rat, also called the brown rat, probably originated in eastern Asia, possibly northern China. The first record of its appearance in Europe was 1553, and it is now found throughout the world. It is usually grayish brown above and pale gray or brown on its underparts, but blackish varieties also occur. Norway rats breed throughout the year. Gestation varies from 21 to 24 days, and litter size is usually between 6 and 12 young.
The house mouse is the most commonly encountered and economically important of the commensal rodents, the Norway and roof/black rats being the other two. House mice are not only a nuisance, damage/destroy materials by gnawing, and eat and contaminate stored food, they are also of human health importance as disease carriers or vectors. It is thought to be of Central Asian origin, but is now of worldwide distribution.
Signs of an infestation include gnaw marks, droppings, damaged goods or tracks.
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