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Signs of Rats: Rat Infestation and Causes
If you’re a homeowner, one of the worst things is finding out the damage that a rat infestation has caused. We say damage because you will see the traces the rodents leave behind before you see the actual perpetrator.
In these cases, the best thing for you is to learn how to identify these traces so you can take the necessary measures to solve the problem as soon as possible.
What Causes Rats to Come in Your House
There are many things that can cause a rat infestation. The primary reasons for rats to get a liking to your home are:
- Structural damage. The more cracks and openings your property has, the easier it is for the rodents to get inside. The basement, the hollow parts of the walls, even the attic can give them an easy passage if there are weak points.
- Clutter. The more clutter you have in your rooms, the more places for the rats to make their nests, as well as to hide in.
- Plumbing issues. Water leakage is one of the biggest causes of rat infestation. If you’ve given the rats a passage to come in, and lots of clutter to make their home, then a free water source will surely make them stay for a long time.
- Food out in the open. Give them food and the hospitality is complete. People often leave food out in the open without even realising. Any type of grain stored in cupboards will easily attract rodents. Unwashed dishes, garbage bins, and pet food will easily attract mice and rats.
Common Signs of Rat Infestation
Once the rats enter your home, they will only be a few and will know how to hide well. They will hide and breed away from your eyes. But in the meantime, there will be signs that should alarm you the moment you notice them.
- Rat footprints. Rodent feet are quite distinguishable so you should be able to recognise them, especially if they’ve made a nest in a dusty place, like the attic or the basement.
- Rat teeth marks. Rats will most definitely find things to gnaw on - cables, nylon bags, or anything made of rubber. Gnaw marks are also easily identifiable.
- Rub marks. Rats are relatively clean, however, mice carry a lot of grease in their fur and each surface they squeeze in will be left with dirty rub marks. This is one sign that could give you an idea with what kind of rodent you’re dealing with.
- Scratching. Rats are most active during the night, so if you’re awake there’s no way not to notice the sounds of scratching.
- Holes. Small holes in the ground or the wall are a good indication that you have a rodent infestation. If you also notice grease stains on the edges of the hole, you know you’re dealing with mice.
- Foul smell. The smell is unavoidable when lots of tiny creatures live, eat, breed, defecate, die and decompose between your walls.
- Urine puddles. Rat urine has a very sharp smell, you’ll most likely know about it even before you actually see a puddle.
- Rat droppings. They are oval like an olive if you’re dealing with rats. Elongated with a pointy end if you’re dealing with mice.
Signs of Rat Infestation Growth
Here, at Fantastic Pest Control, we were asked about infestations a lot. Messages, such as "I found a rat in my house. Is there more?" Trust us, there is no way how to tell how many rats are in your house. But, there is one thing you should know about.
Once rats make themselves comfortable in the hideouts they found in your house, they will breed. The more you wait, the more the population will grow. Because of this, you will notice an increase in all the signs listed above. Also, rats usually come out of the hideouts at night to find food.
If the population grows too much, it is possible that they would have no place to hide anymore and will be forced to come out during the day as well. Once you see a rat during the day, you can be sure the population has grown and you better stop postponing the treatment against rats.
Rats, mice and other rodents carry diseases that are unfortunately dangerous for humans and pets. If you have a rodent infestation of any kind, you and your household are in danger of the following diseases.
- Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome. Can be spread by inhaling dust contaminated with rat urine or droppings; by direct contact with rat feces or urine, and sometimes by getting bitten.
- Leptospirosis. Humans can be infected by coming into contact with contaminated water by swimming or drinking.
- Rat-bite Fever. This one is spread by a rat bite, or by coming into contact with a dead rat.
- Salmonellosis. Infects humans by contaminating food and drinking water.
Health risks aren't the only thing to worry about when you have a rat infestation. Big and small rat populations are capable of dealing quite a bit of damage on properties.
Rats and mice chew on just about anything - plastic bags, cartons, furniture, paintings, documents and anything with food. They are also known to chew on cables and electrical wires, which puts your home in danger of short circuit and even fire. Insulation is not safe either.
How to Inspect for Rats
Inspections for a possible infestation, even if you aren’t noticing any signs, are important if you want to keep your house free of unwanted bugs or critters. As they say, prevention is the best medicine against any ailment.
If you live in a city, the best thing for you is to have an inspection by a pest control expert once a year, even if you don’t notice any signs. The expert can not only give you a piece of mind but also notice if you're in danger of getting infested soon. They can point out at flaws in your property that should be fixed immediately.
If you prefer to inspect your property yourself, you need to prepare carefully. If you have doubts about having an infestation, then you need to take precautions because you might get in contact with faeces, urine, or even rat corpses.
Wear rubber gloves at all time, as well as a face mask. There are diseases that can transmit from rodents to dust particles from where they passed. Some of which are very harmful to humans. You might also need a flashlight if you search dark places or between the walls.
The most common places are rooms with lots of clutter. Push away all the borders between you and your uninvited guests. The attic and the basement are your first priority. If you notice holes in the walls or floor, this is the next place to check. In the kitchen where the food is, and if you have a pipe leak somewhere - now is the time to get it fixed.
If you have a food-growing garden, you can be sure the rats have burrows near it. If you have a garden shed, they will try to make a nest in there. Even more if your store produce in there. Around the garbage bin is another place you should have inspected.
Rats are a serious problem for every homeowner. If you have troubles dealing with their population and you feel like you won’t be able to handle the situation on your own, then you can always ask for help from professional pest controllers.