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Why Do Rodents Persistently Gnaw On Non-Food Materials Within Homes?

    Why Do Rodents Persistently Gnaw On Non-Food Materials Within Homes?

    Rodents, such as mice, rats, squirrels and chipmunks, are unique for possessing one pair of ultra-sharp incisors on their upper and lower jaws. Rabbits, for example, are not categorized as rodents because they possess two pairs of incisors on their upper jaw. Rodents use their sharp incisors for a variety of purposes, including defense, aggression, food acquisition, climbing, and nesting. These sharp incisors have allowed rodents to thrive in the natural environment, and unfortunately, it is not uncommon for rats and mice to use their sharp incisors to damage property.

    While rodents use their incisors for chewing food, 2 percent of their daily life is spent gnawing on various objects in their environment. In the natural environment, rodents gnaw on the surface of wood in order to secure shelter within hollow logs and tree trunks. Rodents can also gnaw through tree roots in order to hollow out nesting cavities within solid wood. Naturally, rodents indulge in this same gnawing behavior in order to establish harborages within homes. The areas and materials within, and on the exterior walls of homes that are most commonly damaged by the gnawing activity of rodents include doors, floors, plaster, insulation, structural wood, siding, utility cables, furniture upholstery and electrical wiring.

    It is obvious that rodents gnaw on flooring and walls in order to gain access into homes, or food sources within cupboards, but the reason why rodents gnaw on cables and wiring is not so clear. While rodent damage to cables and wiring is very common, and has led to area-wide blackouts, vehicle failures, and even structural fires, this particular rodent pest behavior has not been researched extensively. However, rodents gnaw on plant stems for a variety of reasons, and some experts claim that rodents may gnaw on wires and cables solely because they resemble plant stems. For example, rodents gnaw on plant stems in order to extract the food and moisture contained within. This food consists of insect larvae and seeds, and rodents also use their incisors to gather fibrous material from plant stems to construct nests. Some researchers believe that rodent gnawing behavior may serve as a form of communication, while others have suggested that rodents may inflict damage with their incisors in order to mark their territory. While it is not yet clear as to why rodents gnaw on non-food items, it is known that rats and mice inflict well over one billion dollars in property damage annually in the US alone.

    Have you ever discovered rodent bite marks on wires, cables or pipes within your home?



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