With the exception of the cute, tamed rats you can find in any pet store, the common rat is not a welcome guest in your home.
These pesky pests burrow, gnaw, and squeeze into your home through the tiniest cracks, and then they wreak havoc on your home’s insulation, electrical systems, and foundation. Some species breed year-round, and if the conditions are right, a pair of rats could potentially produce a colony of 2,000 rats in a year.
If you suspect your home has rats or mice, it’s important to deal with the problem quickly before they cause some serious damage.
What Harm Do They Cause?
Rats might not be big in size (on average), but together, a colony of rats can put your health and your home at risk.
- Electrical damage: Unlike human teeth, rat teeth will continually grow. If they grow without restraint, rat teeth will even grow through a rat’s own skull. Consequently, rats gnaw on a variety of surfaces to wear down the teeth, including wires and cables.
- Disease: Rats carry a variety of diseases. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, rodents transmit the following: Hantavirus, hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome, lassa fever, leptospirosis, salmonellosis, and the plague. Contaminate food: Rats eat 15 to 25 times per day and consume roughly 10% to 15% of their body weight in food daily. Additionally, rats are picky eaters, so they’ll ruin almost 10 times as much food as they actually eat.
- Insulation damage: Thermal insulation in attics and crawl spaces provide the perfect nesting ground for mice and rats because it keeps the heat out in winter and the cold in during summer. The soft material stands no chance against sharp rodent teeth.
- Endanger pets: Cats may be natural hunters and some dogs even hunt rodents, but rats will attack predators many times their size when their colony outnumbers their enemies. Rats also eat pet food, spreading intestinal parasites to cats and dogs.
These are just some of the problems rats and mice can cause to your home and family. Don’t let a rat infestation get worse! Learn to identify problems early so you can take appropriate action.
How to Identify the Problem
Rats are quick and hard to spot; however, it doesn’t take much to determine if a rat is taking up residence in your home.
- Pets are panicked or upset: Pets can hear and smell rodents in the house, and they may be uncomfortable with rodents eating their food.
- Visible rodent droppings: Rats produce up 40-50 droppings per night, and they usually defecate in concentrated, specific locations. Rat droppings are brown, tapered, and resemble a large grain of rice.
- Small tracks in dusty areas: Shelves in high places, baseboard, and corner cupboards are perfect walkways for mice and rats. If you don’t dust regularly, look for small tracks in these areas.
- Gnawed wood: Rats gnaw on multiple surfaces. Look for small teeth marks and damaged baseboard. Smears along baseboard and other areas: As rats move along the wood, their grease and fur rub up against the edges, leaving small smears behind.
- Musky odor: Rats have a distinct musky scent that is different from domestic pet odors. In closed-off areas or corners, you may smell rat urine and feces. Dead rats will smell even worse as the body decomposes.
- Scratching Noises: Scratching noises in your attic or basement are tell tale signs that rats are in your home.
Rat and Mice Management
You can prevent rats from invading your home and becoming a problem by taking a few precautionary steps.
- Close of easy access areas: Rats and mice and squeeze into surprisingly tiny holes. Some mice can fit through holes the size of a pencil (about 1⁄4 inch). To keep them out, close off small gaps in the foundation, roof, and rafters. Cover up ventilation openings with rat proof, high strength mesh.
- Remove or trim shrubs and plants: Depending on the species, rats will climb up shrubs to access your home or use the shrubs as camouflage when they burrow into the home.
- Keep shrubs at least 18 inches away from your house. Monitor your bird feeder: Rats are attracted to food, so clean up any spillage and keep feeders away from the house.
- Do not feed pets outside the home: Closely monitor what your pets eat and drink. Rats will pillage food dishes if they have access to them. Clean spills immediately and thoroughly.
Why Manage Rodents When You Can Get Rid Of Them Forever
Most home owners will leave the basics of cleanup and prevention to a pest control or professional crawl space restoration company. The most effective solution to rodents is to stop “managing them” and start stopping them for good. Most pest companies are in the business of selling monthly service inspections, and then in many cases, laying poisonous bait in or around the house. If you have children, there should be no exposure to these deadly chemicals what so ever. You could save thousands of dollars a year if you just fired your pest control company.
Some of the most common ways to stop rodents is exclusion or concrete rat slabs. Exclusion is the use of steel mesh or metal screening to prevent the entry of rodents from any point (air vents, under siding, pipe penetrations). Concrete rat slabs is just that, concrete slab to cover the surface of your crawl space to stop burrowing rodents. A combination of the two are typically used to achieve a dryer, healthier home void of any furry critters taking up residence in your house.