The rat pack, the Chinese zodiac sign of charm and aggressiveness and a popular pet across the country – these rodents certainly have a lot of character. Yet, wild rats are a different story. There are 15 million brown rats in the UK, and these little critters are responsible for an annual financial cost of 11 billion pounds in damages. Don’t let a rat infestation get you down, our guide to spotting and shifting the problem is here to help.
Rat Problems in the Home
There’s no doubt that rats have faced a bad rap over the course of history. Famed for spreading disease, rumored to grow as big as cats, and carriers of fleas – the last thing you want is a gang of rats running riot in the home.
Bigger and bolder than the mouse, rats can climb, leap, and even swim making them tricky to track down and remove. Larger than life, rats can cause chaos in the home – chomping and chewing through everything in sight, creating runs in the walls, and depleting your food stock as they plow through 15% of their own body weight in grub. Add in the fact that rats can live to a ripe old age of 2 years and throw out litters with 5-8 pups each time, a seemingly small problem can spiral into a mutiny before you know it.
While rats in the home are far from fun, rats in the workplace can cause major financial headaches. Factories, offices, and any business environment have a duty of care to their staff which means that rats need to be kept at bay.
Along with being a health hazard, a rat infestation can lead to stock losses – especially in warehouses. Tearing apart your documents to make a bed, chewing through boxes and packaging, pilfering whatever they need – all these inconveniences can quickly add up. Not to mention the loss of time spent dealing with the damage caused by rats running rampant.
Having rats in the workplace can also put your business on the line; employees can sue for being made to work in a hazardous health environment, and if you work with food – the environmental health team are sure to come along in a jiffy and can even shut you down if the problem isn’t dealt with in a swift and effective manner.
Rats are secretive creatures, much more so than mice, but the telltale signs of an infestation can still be spotted if you know where to look. Rats come into the home for two main reasons; they want a warm and safe place when it’s time to breed. Being omnivorous eaters also means that your home is a haven for food.
As rats tend to be the most active during the small hours, you may not always catch one in the act – but the clues will be there. As with all rodents, the clearest sign is usually droppings. These small dark pellets are long and black and tapered. As rats defecate a lot, each night could see up to 50 pellets scattered around.
Kitchen cupboards, cutlery drawers, shelves, and any place that leads to food – these are the usual spots to catch sight of a pile of droppings. Fresh droppings will be dark, older droppings will be pale and crumbly – this should help you to identify if you are dealing with a current invasion.
Make sure that you never touch the droppings with your bare hands to reduce the risk of bacteria spreading. Always wear gloves when cleaning up rat droppings and make sure to wash your hands after and properly disinfect the area.
Rats are blind as bats, they have impeccable hearing and a keen sense of smell, but their eyesight is poor. This means that to travel around a home, the rat needs to rely on well-established routes. You can look for telltale signs as the furry creatures will leave rub marks along the walls and skirting boards. Often the rub marks will look like greasy dark gray marks from the oily residue found in a rat’s fur. You may also see muddy or dusty trails left behind by the rats as they journey around your home.
While rats can be stealth, they can also be quite noisy house guests and at some point, you may hear them working from within your walls or ceilings. Scratching is one of the most common noises to hear. Rats also chatter, a noise that is produced from them grinding their teeth. When they are vexed or scared, rats also hiss and squeak. Rats are also argumentative creatures, so you may also hear them scrapping with other rats, a noisy eruption of squeaking and shrieking.
Rats like to take a break on their journeys to your food source, to stop and have a chew en-route. Long teeth cause them to gnaw on hard surfaces as often as possible, to keep their front teeth at a more comfortable length. Check for bite marks on the edge of surfaces as a sure sign that rats are using your home as a dentist’s chair.
Play detective and get down with a torch to see if you can spot tiny pawprints making a trail. If you want to check if the infestation is still active, you can dust the area with talcum powder and check for fresh tracks the next day.
Rats pay true testament to the statement ‘where there’s a will there’s a way’. The long-tailed creatures can slip through just about any crack. Loft and attic spaces are a firm favorite so make sure to check behind boxes. Rats can scuttle up drain pipes and find their way in.
Kitchen and laundry rooms are another surefire place to find entryways from rats. Gaps where pipes and cables enter your home green light the way for rats and rodents to enter. Even as you gaze at the small gap in disbelief – rats are flexible creatures.
Garage vents or gaps around doorframes and windows – no space is too small for a hungry rat seeking a new home. Broken air bricks and pipes with a 2-inch hole are open invitations to young rats to come on in. You can also check the floorboards for holes as rats can burrow beneath and find their way in. While rats have been known to swim up drains and climb out of toilet bowls, this isn’t a commonplace method so feel free to leave the lid up.
Outside in gardens and you may find rats hanging around the lovely warm and overflowing compost bin, gnawing and burrowing beneath your decking, and making their homes in rotted tiles, bricks and bits of wood.
If you have rats in the house, you can wave farewell to your perfectly stocked pantry. Rats are feasters but unlike mice, they will take their time to seek out their favorite foods. They need to eat 15-25 times per day to feel full, and during this mission they will rummage through your cupboards checking and trying everything until they find what they want.
Rats are territorial creatures and will often mark their space with a splash of urine, so even if your tub of food only has one bite taken – you can be sure the rest needs throwing out immediately.
With long teeth that need constant trimming, rats can cause terrible damage when it comes to wiring. Chomping down on insulation and electrical wires, one bad bite could see your whole home plunged into darkness and in the need of a rewire. Not only is wire chewing inconvenient damage but it can also be a pricey problem to fix.
Nibbling on insulation near electrical wires also runs the risk of sending sparks to start a fire. Alongside the fire hazard, having your tightly packed insulation carried away is going to send your heating and air conditioning bills soaring.
Rats also defecate up to 50 times a day, turning your home into a breeding ground for disease. Salmonella and tapeworms are two common risks from dealing with rat droppings with your bare hands so always be sure to glove up before tackling the droppings. While the odor may not be obvious to you, it is sending signals to other rodents, declaring open house on your abode.
Burrowing rats can even cause the foundations of your house to shift as they like to dig deep, weakening the support systems and causing doors, windows, water and gas pipes to shift in extreme circumstances. Other rats may chew through the eaves of a roof which in turn can lead to a leak.
Rats in the garden means your beautiful bulbs, vegetables and pretty plants will pretty much be torn apart and nibbled to nothing.
In short, a rat infestation is not only a hazard to your health, but your home and finances are also sure to suffer.
People take a ruthless attitude when it comes to rats and for good reason – rats left to their own free will in the home will tear it apart piece by piece.
The most common way of dealing with rats is usually poison. However, poison is far from a humane choice when dealing with rats. Modern poison, while effective, leads to a long and lingering death. A rat can take four days to die after ingesting poison. Often, rats will crawl into a small space to die, making it difficult to access and remove the body which will lead to terrible odors.
Thanks to blanket use of poisons and pesticides, rats are even evolving to become resistant to the poison. They fight it, and then breed – passing the resistance to their offspring. Even choosing higher grade poisons will eventually lead to the same problem in the future. We need to seek another method for dispelling these household pests.
Another method is the trap – while faster than poison, the traps can go wrong and cause prolonged suffering, they are also a very slow way of dealing with the problem. Humane traps are a good method, but again – very time consuming, often involving catching the rat and going out of your way to release it. With a rat infestation this could take forever, especially as the leftover rats would still be breeding. In short, it’s an uphill battle.
At Project Multi Pest we employ a swift, safe and highly effective method for ridding your home of rats without the trauma. We believe in dealing with the problem as fast and kindly as possible, to reduce the suffering that poison can cause. Our method uses a combination of well trained dogs and traps to flush out the problem.
Our two beautiful dogs, a Parson’s Jack Russell called Gracie and a Parson’s Jack Russell mix called Monty have both been trained to the highest standard in the art of rodent hunting.
Monty and Gracie can flush the rodents out of the walls and cleanly dispatch of them in seconds, making our service one of the most humane ways to clear an infestation. Both dogs have lovely natures and are safe around children and other animals.
We cover areas all around Kent, the charming seaside locale where we live. Being beside the sea means we raise happy healthy dogs who enjoy a wonderful balance and business and play. We also spread our services out to London.
If you suspect your home may have fallen victim to a rat invasion, then please do not hesitate to pick up the phone or drop us a line.