What Surprising Things Can A Rat Chew Through?

Posted by Rita Stadler

Jan 22, 2014 1:37:00 PM

rat_teeth
Have you ever seen an "eye-boggling" rat?

The muscles controlling a rat's jaws are very powerful, and anchored around the eye sockets, running behind the eyeballs.  When a rat grinds his teeth, his eyeballs can vibrate in and out; this usually indicates pleasure and contentment. 

Why do rats need such powerful jaw muscles? 

Because their incisors never stop growing!  Rats must gnaw (chew) on things constantly to wear their teeth down.  If their teeth were allowed to grow unchecked, they would grow continuously in a spiral at an 86 degree angle, making it impossible for the rat to close its mouth or eat, resulting in death. 

What do rats chew on to wear their teeth down?

Rats will chew on anything that is not harder than their teeth.  The Mohs Scale, developed by German mineralogist Friedrich Moh in 1812, measures the hardness of gemstones and minerals based on their ability to scratch another gemstone or mineral.  The scale ranks from 1 (softest, such as Talc) to 10 (hardest, such as Diamonds).  Rat teeth rank about 5.5 on the Mohs Scale, harder than iron or copper.  Human tooth enamel only ranks about 5 on the Mohs Scale.  Because their teeth are so hard, rats are able to chew through most of the materials people use to keep them out, such as:
 
  • Plastic
  • Wood
  • Brick
  • Cement
  • Lead
  • Asbestos
  • Aluminum
  • Cinder blocks


Super strong teeth are not the only superpower like trait these rodents possess.  Rats can fall 50 feet without injury; they can swim and tread water for 3 days without drowning; they can squeeze through openings the size of a quarter; they breed at an astonishing rate, rapidly populating any given area; and last but not least, their genes have mutated, making them immune to most rat poisons. 

They may seem like an invincible opponent, but it is possible to keep rats out.   The first and most important step in preventing a rat infestation is good sanitation.  Removing food and water sources will go a long way when getting rid of rats.  Store pet food and pantry goods in glass or metal containers and use a covered trash can.  Keep things picked up and organized so there are fewer hiding places for rodents.  Outside of the home, keep shrubbery and wood or compost piles away from the building. 

The second step to get rid of rats is to block off entry points.  Even though they can chew their way through almost anything, you don't need to leave the door open for them.  Use metal screens over chimney and dryer vents.  Make sure the building's foundation and roof soffits are well maintained.  Keep window screens in good repair and install door sweeps if there is a gap under any exterior doors.

Lastly, protect property with a natural rodent repellent.  Rats have poor eyesight, but an exceptional sense of smell.  As a matter of fact, rats have been trained to sniff out land mines, drugs, and even to serve as rescue rats sniffing out survivors after disasters.  Fresh Cab® Botanical Rodent Repellent uses essential oils that smell pleasant to humans but are offensive to rodents to deter rats and mice.  Placing Fresh Cab pouches around your home, in your vehicles, and in your stored property will protect it against rats and mice. 

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5 Ways to Protect Pets from Dangerous Rodent Control Methods

Topics: Pest Control, Home

Rita Stadler
Rita lives in Central Florida and has been a member of Team earthkind since 2010. When not writing about ways to preserve the good and prevent the rest, her 4 children keep her busy. She can be found sharing mouse jokes on Twitter @earthkind and answering to calls of "MOM!" from any kid within a 25 foot radius.

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