Rats are relentless pests, spreading pathogens and destroying homes and gardens. They travel long distances for food and shelter and gnaw through wires that can cause devastating electrical fires.
Residents should listen for scurrying in attics and false ceilings, especially after dusk. They should also look for gnaw marks, droppings, and signs of food storage.
Identifying the Infestation
Rats are scavengers that require three essential things to survive: food, shelter, and water. They value places where these items are available in large quantities and easily accessible. Keeping junk and yard debris picked up and tree branches trimmed is essential.
Look for signs of rodent activity in dusty or dirty areas of the house, such as tracks or tail drag marks, gnawed holes in ductwork, door joists, floors, and walls, contaminated food packages and containers, or food scraps with bite marks.
Rats can quickly breed, causing an infestation that spreads disease and parasites. Prevent rats from gaining entry into homes by filling in or repairing rat harborage areas outside, such as gaps around pipes, wires, and vents.
Identifying the Rats’ Habitat
Rats are thin-tailed, medium-sized rodents that are part of the genus Rattus. They are found worldwide and are one of the most adaptable mammals on the planet.
In the wild, rats live in caves that serve as safe, thermo-regulated nest sites. They also retreat to these sites to escape threatening situations, such as predators and sudden loud noises.
These rodents are opportunistic and can be found in urban or rural settings. They feed on meat, fish, eggs, grains, and vegetables. They also eat fruit and seeds.
They breed frequently. The gestation period is about three months, and litters may contain 6 to 12 young. Rats carry various diseases that can be transferred to humans and pets. They are a severe nuisance in areas where they occupy human habitats.
Identifying the Rats’ Food Sources
In the wild, rats are opportunistic and will eat nearly anything they can find. They scavenge through garbage, dumpsters, and carrion. They also hunt small animals and birds for meat.
Rats’ teeth are constantly growing, and they gnaw to maintain their shape. This is a common cause of structural damage to buildings and homes and flooding due to gnawed pipes. If you notice any of these signs, contact a professional for rat removal.
Outside, rats seek shelter in woodpiles, debris piles, tall grasses, weeds, and landscaping elements like rock and masonry walls. They are also drawn to moisture and will quench their thirst in rain puddles, gutter downspouts, birdbaths, and pet bowls.
Identifying the Rats’ Nests
Rats can chew through almost anything and cause extensive damage if they gain entry into a home or commercial space. Signs of a rat infestation include gnaw marks on ductwork, doors, walls, and wires. Piles of twigs, cotton, plant debris, paper, and wires may also be found in areas commonly frequented by rats.
Never disturb a rat nest, as the rodents will move to another area and begin building a new one in your house. If you discover a rat nest, note the musky smell of ammonia and the appearance of chalky droppings when dry. Droppings are typically bigger than mouse droppings. They are dark until they dry and then turn gray and flaky.
Identifying the Rats’ Threats
Rats cause numerous health and safety issues. They can contaminate food preparation and storage areas, spreading Salmonella, which can cause food poisoning. They can also apply Leptospirosis, leading to fever, chills, aches and pains, and even meningitis. They also chew through electrical wires, which can cause fires.
Signs of a rat infestation include gnawed or chewed edges of pipes, ductwork, door joists, flooring, walls, and droppings. You might also see tracks or tail drag marks along floorboards or wall studs and may find rats’ nests in the attic or basement.
The best way to prevent rats from entering your home is to keep food scraps and garbage in tightly closed containers. Keeping grass and shrubs trimmed can also eliminate places where rats like to hide.