Do you know the name for a group of rats? They are aptly called a mischief. Males are bucks, females are dams, and their children are kittens or pups. If mischief is running amok in your home leaving behind their feces and urine then your food could be contaminated. Rodents and rats in particular carry diseases. Among the diseases they are known to carry are swine dysentery (yes, humans can get this bacteria), tuberculosis (cough, sometimes with blood, shortness of breath, fever), salmonellosis (chills, fatigue, diarrhea, abdominal pain) , and leptospirosis (fever, muscle pain, chills, red eyes, nausea, sore throat, vomiting).

Rat infestations don’t necessarily mean that your home or business is  unclean. My mom  tells the story of early marriage days.  She and my dad rented a house  close to the college where neighborhoods were being torn down for college expansion. In the quiet of night, laying in her bed, she could hear the thump of rat tails dragging across the rafters. 

She would pull the blanket up to her eyeballs and beg for sleep to come.  When she closed her eyes, she  still envisaged red eyeballs gleaming in the darkness. Believe me, they were not in her house because it was dirty or she left food out. The rats were simply looking for a new home. There can be construction or remodeling in your area. The rats could find a dime-size hole somewhere and move in. That is all they need to make themselves at home in your living space, a dime-size hole. These pests are rapid breeders that wreak havoc or mischief wherever they call home. They can chew electrical wires and start fires, and nibble on pipes and cause flooding and water damage in walls. My mom flipped out when she saw they had chewed on the handle of her favorite paring knife and must have visited her silverware drawer. Ugh! She threatened to move and the landlord took care of the problem. But to this day she hates what she calls naked rat tails.

Opossum or Possum

Is it opossum or possum? Both are correct! Opossum is more correct but either will do.  A group of opossums is called a passel. The males are called jacks and the females are called jills. Jills can give birth of up to 20 babies called joeys. Opossums are marsupials which means they are carried in a pouch on their mother’s belly to suckle and finish developing. When the joeys get a little older the mother will carry them on her back. The mother carries her young until they are around 100 days old. 

Opossums can be good in that they eat ticks, insects, slugs, and occasionally small rodents. They have 50 teeth, which is more teeth than any land mammal in North America. Those teeth are useful in eating the small rodents and scaring others as they hiss and bare them for others to see. If that doesn’t work they are known to play dead. This is where the saying ‘playing possum’ comes from. The bad is that they can carry and transmit diseases to humans and pets. Coccidiosis (abdominal pain, diarrhea/constipation, headache, and nausea), leptospirosis (see above), spotted fever (chills, nausea/vomiting, fever, confusion), and tuberculosis (see above) to name a few that have been transmitted from opossums. Coccidiosis is transmitted via feces and your pets can develop diarrhea. They are also known to transmit diseases to cattle. They can carry (EPM), which is equine protozoal myeloencephalitis. This is a neurological disease. It can cause a lack of coordination, muscle atrophy, and loss of feeling.


A group of raccoons is called a gaze, sometimes a bunch is also called a nursery. Although president Calvin Coolidge had a pet raccoon named Rebecca, it is not recommended that you keep one as a pet. Raccoons are highly intelligent. They learn ways around garbage can lids, doors, and lids in general. They have dexterous hands that include thumbs. If you have food or garbage that interests them, they will work diligently to get to it. Raccoons can carry and transmit leptospirosis (see above) and rabies (similar to the flu and then progresses to deliria and abnormal behavior including cerebral dysfunction). They have also been known to transmit parvovirus enteritis (loss of appetite, dehydration, fever, diarrhea, and septic shock) and canine distemper (discharge from eyes, coughing, fever, vomiting, and lethargy). Roundworm is also commonly found in raccoons (coughing, restlessness, abdominal pain, wheezing, and malnutrition).


A group of squirrels is called a scurry or a dray. A female is called a doe or a sow and the male is called a boar. Their offspring are called kits or kittens. Squirrels can be great fun to watch as they do aerial acrobatics leaping from tree branch to tree branch, however they can do thousands of dollars worth of damage to a home. Roof, plumbing, and electrical damage can be done as well as damage to your vehicles. Squirrels are known to transmit Leptospirosis, lyme disease (fever, fatigue, weakness, and joint pain), Salmonellosis (see above), tularemia (fever, throat pain, abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, swollen lymph nodes, and mouth ulcers), and rabies. Squirrels typically run away from humans but on occasion when they feel threatened they have attacked humans.


What to Do?

Inspect the building and surroundings. This must be done top and bottom. Rats can enter from the roof, ground, or any exterior opening. Telephone wires, trees, gutters, or anything against or above a home can be used to help them gain access to the building. Once inside and breeding the walls, attic, and any crawl space can help them spread all over and have access to every room. 

Opossums, raccoons, and squirrels also like to make themselves at home in your home and property. These critters can cause thousands of dollars worth of property damage. They also pose a threat to the health and well-being of humans, pets, and livestock. DFW Wildlife would be honored to be of service. 


Call DFW Wildlife (817) 606-7607