Did you Know that Rodents Can’t Throw Up?

Did you Know that Rodents Cant Throw Up

Unless you have a pet hamster or rat, you may view rodents as simply very unwelcome houseguests. You may be surprised to learn, however, that this group of animals is quite diverse and features certain special abilities. One interesting fact about mice, squirrels, gophers, and other rodents is that they are unable to vomit as so many other organisms can. While you may wish you were like the rodent in this way, this trait presents certain safety risks that rodents must overcome. Consider several bits of information that may help you better understand why rodents cannot perform this important action and how it impacts their life.

Why Can’t Rodents Vomit?

The rodent’s nervous system and anatomy are designed in such a way that throwing up is not physically possible. For one thing, the point of connection between a rodent’s esophagus and stomach is relatively strong. This means that it is very difficult for the contents of the stomach to move backwards towards the esophagus. Neurologically, rodents simply do not have the wiring necessary to perform the coordinated muscle movements that lead to vomiting. In other organisms, the shoulders, throat, mouth, and even tendinous structures of the diaphragm move in concert to allow for vomiting. 

Why Is the Inability To Vomit Problematic?

While throwing up is a major nuisance when people experience the flu or nausea, it actually serves a vital biological purpose. Namely, vomiting allows organisms to get rid of harmful substances before they are digested and enter the bloodstream. This would be useful if an animal eats something poisonous or rotten, for instance. Because rodents cannot perform this critical act, they are susceptible to various toxins, including the poison many people use to address rodent infestations.

How Do Rodents Adjust to This Shortcoming?

Although the inability to throw up places rodents at an evolutionary disadvantage in some ways, these critters have a few tricks up their sleeves that help them avoid illness due to hazardous foods. For one, if a rodent eats something toxic and begins to feel nauseous, it may eat a number of different substances that help its body better manage the unhealthy product, a behavior known as pica. These substances are generally non-nutritive and can include wood and dirt.

Rodents also take a proactive approach to preventing foodborne illness. Namely, rodents use their impressively strong senses of taste and smell to check food sources before eating them. In many cases, rodents can detect toxins other animals cannot.

Are Rodents Alone in This Weakness?

The inability to vomit is more common in the animal kingdom than one might think. In addition to rodents, multiple other organisms possess this disadvantage, including horses, rabbits, and guinea pigs. When it comes to horses, the reasons underlying the failure to throw up are similar in many ways to those of rodents. Additionally, the angle at which horses’ esophagus joins the stomach and the lack of a strong gag reflex may inhibit vomiting. 

Responding to Rodent Infestations

Despite the knowledge of rodents’ unique challenges and abilities, you may still prefer to keep your distance from these critters. Mice and rats, after all, frequently settle inside people’s living spaces, potentially damaging property and creating unsanitary conditions.

If you notice one or more of these rodents in your home, be sure to reach out to a specialist right away. Truly Nolen Canada offers pest control services that aim to rid your home of these uninvited houseguests, as well as prevent their return. We also offer a number of other pest removal services to help residents have peace of mind in their homes. Give us a call today to get started.