Rats are a common problem for British homeowners. Fortunately, if you know how to keep them away, you can keep them out of your garden and prevent them from coming anywhere near your home.
Why Are They There?
The key to keeping rats out of your garden is understanding what brings them there. Like any pest, rats are mostly concerned with food and shelter. If they have reliable access to both of these, they will happily set up shop just about anywhere.
If you keep any pets in your home, make sure their food isn’t exposed. If you leave even the smallest gap for them to get through, you can be sure that rats will find their way in. There are plenty of rodent-resistant storage options on the market; these are the most reliable way of keeping unwanted pests out of any pet feed you have stored. However, as long as you keep food properly sealed and, ideally, elevated, you shouldn’t have any problems.
Another regular source of food for rats is unsecured rubbish. If they can get into your bins and access the refuse inside, they will find all the food they could ever need. Make sure your bins are properly closed, and you properly seal any bags within.
Where do They Nest?
Rats are adept at seeking out places to build their nest. They can nest anywhere sheltered from predators and weather. In some gardens, it is all but impossible to remove every potential hiding place. If your garden contains a shed, garage, or another outbuilding, these are always going to be attractive to rats and other rodents.
Homes located near to sewers are also much more prone to rat infestations. Sewers are the primary way that rats move around and stay out of sight, hiding from people and predators.
What Problems Can They Cause?
Seeing a rat on your property can be alarming. Rats rarely travel alone; if you can see one rat, there are almost certainly others nearby. Whether they’re in your garden or in your home, rats can cause numerous issues for you and your family, from property damage to spreading disease.
If you grow your own fruit and vegetables, rats will happily eat them before you have a chance to fix them. They are also likely to damage sheds and outbuildings by chewing through the wood.
Rats have a powerful bite and are capable of chewing through most materials. If you have rats in your garden, they will eventually make their way into your home. Whether they find a way in, or they make one themselves, they won’t stay outside forever.
Once in your home, rats can chew through wiring, potentially creating a fire hazard, they can spoil and steal any food you have stored, and they can leave lasting damage to your walls and other fixtures.
As well as the damage they can cause to property and possessions, diseases are another prominent concern with rats. There is a long list of nasty diseases spread by rats and even more by the insects they carry in their fur. Having rats around you and your family represents a severe health risk; you shouldn’t underestimate the potential for diseases to spread.
Rats also use tunnels to get around. If you have rats nesting in your garden, their digging can leave visible damage to an otherwise well-kept lawn. If you keep animals outdoors, including rabbits and chickens, you need to be wary of rats. Rats sometimes act aggressively towards small animals and even people. Their teeth can cause serious damage to any pet they get into a scrap with.
What are the Signs of a Rat Infestation?
Rat infestations are usually relatively easy to spot; rats aren’t the most subtle of pests. One of the instant giveaways that you have a rat problem is the presence of their droppings. Rat droppings resemble large grains of rice; they are usually around 10mm long.
Another less obvious giveaway is a change in the behaviour of your pets. Cats and dogs will usually be able to notice an infestation before you do; dogs will be able to smell the rodents, while evolution has honed cats abilities to spot and hunt rodents. If you have rats hiding behind your walls, you will notice cats and dogs paying more attention than usual to cracks, crevices, and other potential entry points into your home.
The most common type of rat in the UK is the brown rat. Brown rats are known to dig holes and burrows and use shallow tunnels to get from their nests to their food without being seen. Their presence in your garden, especially when near to food sources, is another reliable indication that you have rats on your property.
Rats’ incisors never stop growing. Because of this, they always have to chew to keep their teeth from growing too long. If you have rats in your home or garden, they will leave tell-tale bite marks on the hard surfaces they use. Rats are happy to chew on anything, but they have a particular affinity for rubber hoses.
How to Get Rid of a Rat Infestation
If you are lucky and you catch a rat infestation early, you might be able to solve it by taking the preventative measures we outlined at the beginning. If you’re able to remove rats’ access to food and shelter, they will have no choice but to move on.
However, if the infestation is more established, you will have to call in a professional pest control service. Dealing with a rats nest is relatively simple for a professional pest control business, but can be very challenging for an individual relying on DIY remedies.
Bon Accord can help homeowners deal with any pest problem on their property, rats included. If you have or suspect rats on your property, you should call us immediately. We will arrange a time for one of our pest control technician to come and make an initial assessment of the situation at your property. Once we have confirmed the presence of rats and established the extent of the infestation, we can proceed to treat the problem. Contact us today, and we will remove any rats from your property as soon as possible.