Rats are very good at adapting to their environment, where they will quickly start to reproduce. Rats have been linked to the bubonic plague, typhus, and jaundice and are responsible for more human illness and death than any other animal on the planet. They can also carry up to 35 diseases that affect humans, pets, and livestock as they contaminate food. They can also damage your property. Did you know that there are an estimated 200 million rats in the United States? That’s nearly one rat for every person! And one pair of rats can produce 15,000 offspring in a year. Rats will gnaw through plastic, wood, lead pipe, cinder block, concrete, plaster, rubber, cardboard, paper, and cloth, and they only need an opening larger than a half-inch in diameter to gain entry to a structure. A-Tex Pest Management outlines why rats are a problem below.
Rats have four legs with fur that is short. Their tails don’t have fur and can vary in length and have beady black eyes with two small ears. The two main types of rats found in the United States are roof rats and Norway rats.
• Roof rats can weigh 5-10oz and can be 10-12 inches long. They have fur that is dark gray to black with a lighter gray belly and they have uniformly dark tails.
• Norway rats weigh 7-180z and can be 13-18 inches long. They have fur that is dark brownish to black with a paler colored belly. Their tails are dark on the top and lighter underneath.
Norway rats can be found in almost every state in the US, while roof rats are more limited to coastal areas.
Signs of a Rat Infestation
There are some tell-tale signs that you may have rats in your home.
• Droppings. Droppings are probably the first thing you’ll notice. You will find them behind appliances, near walls, and in areas of your home that are seldom cleaned or disturbed.
• Gnawing. You may notice chewed areas around windows doors, utility lines, and packages of food.
• Tracks. Tracks will appear in areas that are dusty. If you want to test an area, you can dust flour or powder and observe for a few days.
• Smears. Rats rub against walls as they travel. These marks will appear along walls, next to pipes, beams and openings to a structure.
• Burrows. Holes and fresh diggings around foundations, under floors, sidewalks, and ditches are another sign you have rats.
Rat Control and Prevention
The most important step in rate prevention is to eliminate the things that are attracting them to your home. Namely, food and shelter. Keep food sealed in metal or glass containers that have tight fitting lids, keep outdoor trash sealed tightly, store pet food in robust containers with fitted lids, and keep your home and property free of clutter to reduce hiding places. Prevention may already be too late in you’ve spotted signs of rats, act quickly and contact professional pest control immediately.