Rat pests are more common than you might think. While many of us associate rat problems with big cities like New York, rats can be found almost anywhere, even in the countryside and suburbs. In addition to being an unwanted presence, rats can damage your home and spread diseases such as rat bite fever, salmonellosis, fleas, and other pathogens or parasites. And, if you’re not familiar with the common signs and prevention methods, it can seem like the infestation appears out of nowhere and escalates almost overnight.
Still scared? don’t be our experienced pest control team at Black Diamond can handle any type of infestation. Read on to find out everything you need to know about dealing with rats effectively.
Are all rats the same type?
Most of the rats that exist in the wild in the US are of two types: the roof rat or the Norway rat. Interestingly, these two species do not get along and have been known to fight to the death. Norway rats tend to be larger than roof rats and often dig burrows. If they are in buildings, they are usually found in basements and first floor areas. Roof rats are most often found nesting in higher locations, including dense brush, trees, and shrubs, or attics and spaces along the roof of a home. Roof rats have dark fur and lighter bellies, while Norway rats are more of a brown / gray color. Both types of rats are found in people’s homes and both can be very destructive.
Typical behavior of rats
All rats are nocturnal; they tend to sleep during the day and come out at night. Although their vision is not good, they have excellent hearing and smell. While rats do make sounds, their noises generally have a pitch that humans can’t detect. If you are going to listen to a rat, it is more likely to be the sound of gnawing, chewing, or rummaging for food and building nests. While rats are often fearful of people, they are known to be much more aggressive than mice. They tend to be very fast when moving and are excellent at jumping, wall climbing, and swimming.
What about rats?
In warmer months, rats and other rodents often live outdoors in piles of wood, bushes, garbage cans, and tall grass. When it starts to get cold, they seek shelter in warm, dry spaces, like your home. In fact, the insulation between walls or the dusty cardboard boxes in your basement are a haven for rats.
What turns a rat situation into a full-blown infestation is the presence of food. Just finding crumbs, spilled oils, or loose grains can be more than enough to kick-start generations of a rat family. Female rats can have more than 7 litters in a year, each of which produces 6 to 20 young. In addition, the rats reach maturity in a month, allowing them to go on and start their own families. Bottom line: rat populations can grow very quickly.
Signs of infestation
One of the main indicators of a rat infestation is the presence of a nest. Rats will chew on just about anything to build a nest, including newspapers, clothing, drywall, even electrical wiring, and soft concrete. If you notice bite marks, holes, and other subtle damage to items in your home that could suggest the presence of rats, pay attention.
Other signs of the presence of rats are droppings, dark, oily spots on surfaces, and urine. Look for droppings in food containers, cabinets, and behind appliances. Rat droppings are typically about 0.75 inches long or three times larger than mouse droppings. Urine may be harder to see, but a strange and unpleasant odor can often be detected.
Prevention of infestation
The best way to reduce the chance of a rat infestation is to prepare both the house and the backyard.
Outside, you need to clean up potential food and water sources such as birdseed, oversized berry / fruit bushes, compost bins, birdbaths, and standing water. Also consider removing potential nesting spaces, such as leaf piles, hay, and mulch. The more you maintain your garden, the better. There are also rodent-proof building measures you can take, such as sealing gaps and holes in addition to windows, doors, fireplaces, basements, driveways, etc.
Indoors, you can take action by covering any poorly ventilated spaces between walls and floors with steel wool. Also, proper cleaning of your kitchen is key. Seal food in thick plastic or metal containers, clean up crumbs, save pet food, and properly seal the trash container.
How to deal with infestations
Oh rats! You have an infestation! Fortunately, our pest control professionals at Black Diamond can safely and effectively eliminate any rat problem. As one of the largest pest control companies in the Kentuckiana region, we pride ourselves on providing responsive, personalized, and efficient service. Don’t wait, call us at 877-DEAD-BUG for help today!