When it comes to pests, nothing can be quite as devastating as a rat infestation. While bugs like ants or cockroaches can pose a variety of problems, they are not as damaging or as potentially harmful as rats.
Thus, if you start to notice signs of an infestation, then you have to take action immediately. The longer you wait to control your rat problem, the worse it will become.
However, because rats are crafty creatures, you need to be as knowledgeable about them as possible. The more you know, the easier it will be to curb the infestation and remove it entirely. So, with that in mind, let’s discuss rats and how they can pose a threat to you and your family.
The Basics: Rats vs. Mice
First and foremost, you need to determine if the vermin scuttling around your property are rats or mice. Although these vermin are similar in many ways, mice and rats are fundamentally different, which means that your approach has to be suited to each species.
Here are some distinguishing characteristics-
Appearance -mice have large ears in proportion to their body. If you see big, floppy ears, it’s likely a mouse. Also, their tails are usually covered in hair, compared to the hairless, scaly tails of rats. Finally, rats are much bigger than mice.
Curiosity - mice are naturally curious, so they won’t hesitate to explore different parts of your home. In fact, if you catch a rodent out in the open, chances are that it’s a mouse. Rats are usually fearful, meaning that they try to avoid public spaces as much as possible. The curiosity of mice also means that traps work well, while rats will be harder to catch.
Nests -mice like to climb, so they will have no trouble getting into high spaces in your home (like the attic). Roof rats will do the same, but the more common Norway rat (or brown rat) likes basements and crawlspaces more. Also, mice like clutter, so watch out for that as well.
Although hopefully you won’t get up close and personal with the vermin in your home, knowing how to distinguish between the two will help. As we mentioned, mice can get caught in traps much easier than rats, meaning that laying traps may or may not be helpful, depending on what’s living in your walls.
The Dangers of a Rat Infestation
If you do have rats, they can pose a variety of problems. Typically speaking, these issues can be classified in one of three ways - physical damage, health hazards, and contamination. Let’s break each one down.
Rats have teeth that grow continually. Because of this, they have to chew all the time to wear them down. If they don’t, then their teeth could become dangerous to the rat. Unfortunately, they’re also strong enough to chew through tough materials, like wood and cement.
Thus, if you have a rat colony living in your home, they will chew through all kinds of materials, both to make their nests and to expand their colony’s reach. Pretty soon, you could be looking at a hefty repair bill.
Rats are animals, which means that they eat and produce waste on a continual basis. Rats will leave up to 50 droppings per day, and male rats will drag their testicles on everything, which can leave trails of urine wherever they go.
As you can imagine, having rat feces pile up in your home can be a substantial hazard. Breathing in air that has particles of rat waste can cause all kinds of health problems. Also, if you touch the rats, you could get a wide range of diseases.
Rats are always on the lookout for food. This means that any dry goods in your kitchen can be up for grabs. If you notice holes in food boxes, then you probably have rats going through your stuff. If your food is exposed to vermin, it becomes toxic and can spread diseases.
Identifying an Infestation
Overall, you want to remove rats as quickly as possible once you know that they’re in your home. Thus, you need to be vigilant and spot signs of an infestation so that you can plan your next move. Here are some of the most common warnings.
Noises -scratching, clawing, chewing. Typically, rats are active at night, so pay attention during the evening hours. Droppings - since rats poop a lot, they tend to leave droppings everywhere.
Holes/Chewed Materials -as we mentioned, rats are always gnawing on something. It shouldn’t take long to notice the effects of this habit. Smudge Marks - since rats live in dirty places, they drag dirt and contaminants in their fur. You may notice marks on the walls or moldings where rats have been
Because rats populate so quickly, a small infestation can grow exponentially. Thus, you should start noticing the warning signs of an infestation increasing the longer you wait.
What to Do If You Have Rats
Once you’ve discovered rats in your home, what’s your next move? Unfortunately, it’s usually too much trouble to try and get rid of them on your own. However, you can try laying poison in the areas of your home where you notice droppings or smudge marks, and hopefully, that will be enough.
Traps are usually ineffective against rats, so we don’t recommend them. Also, considering how many vermin may be in your home, you probably don’t have enough traps for them all.
Contact Tim’s Pest Control
Overall, the best way to remove a rat infestation from your property is to call the professionals. At Tim’s Pest Control, we understand rodents well, meaning that we’ll be able to target them with surgical precision. Best of all, we’ll prepare your home so that they won’t be coming back.