How to Deal with a Rat Infestation in Your Home

Rat Infestation

Rats can make adorable pets, but they’re not the uninvited visitor you want reaping havoc on your property. As well as being slightly terrifying, rats carry a catalogue of diseases and can be detrimental to your overall health. On top of this, rats will chew through electrical wiring, walls, furniture, and anything else they can get their teeth around; a hefty repair bill awaits if left unchecked. If you notice signs of a rat infestation in your home, you have to deal with them quickly. Continue reading to find out everything you need to know. 

Diving Deeper into Rats

The majority of people know what rats are, but let’s take a closer look at these pesky pests. Rats come from Australia and Asia and are spread throughout the world through transportation routes. According to Britannica, there are over 60 species of rats, and they’re all nibbly pests of medium size. We say medium, but the terrifying truth is that they can come in on par with a domestic cat’s size.

 

What Rats Need to Live

Rats aren’t fussy pests, and they can find everything they need to survive in any household. Being omnivores, rats will literally eat any food you drop or throw out. Typically, rats will dive through bins and eat scraps. However, they have been known to take down lizards and birds to sustain their diets. Given the hefty diet of the rat, they take in enough water through the food they eat, which can sustain them for at least a month. When the time comes to enjoy a drink, they have plenty of drains and puddles to choose from; they will even share your pet’s water bowl. 

Rats need somewhere to enjoy their feasting and call home, which is where your house comes in. They will find themselves a cosy spot behind the walls, under the floorboards, or inside your furniture. If you’re a serious hoarder, you should consider having a dig to see if you’ve got any unwanted guests. Another place rats like to make their base is inside electric appliances, which we often don’t check once they are installed and in use. 

 

Diseases and Rats

Rats cause enough damage just being in your home, but if you let their numbers get out of control, you are more susceptible to catching diseases. Although typically passed through ingesting contaminated water, Hepatitis E can be caught through rat bites, which is unpleasant but often subsides on its own. Further, rats are renowned for carrying Typhus, which is a flea-borne disease caused by bacteria. 

 

Rat Reproduction Chaos

After just six hours in your home, female rats can mate up to 500 times. With rates like that, there’s no surprise that certain species of rats give birth to around 2000 younglings a year. Unlike humans, the gestation period for rats is around one month, which means you can be sharing your home with hoards of the pests in no time. As the number of rats rises in your home, the more signs of infestation you will notice. 

 

Evidence of Rat Infestations

Footprints

Even in the cleanest of homes, there’s a corner that collects dust rapidly. When you’re searching for clues to rat infestations, take a look at the dusty areas for their little footprints. If your house is pristine, lightly dust a quiet area with baking soda to catch signs of disturbance. 

Funky Smell and Sounds

If you’ve ever smelt ammonia, you’ll recognize the smell of rats immediately. Rats produce ammonia as a defence mechanism, which mimics the smell of nearby predators. As well as carrying a pungent smell, rats make a lot of noise as they rustle through your home. 

Damage

As rats scurry through your home, they will leave a trail of damage behind them. They can chew through electricals, which can cause fires in some cases. They will make their way through your furniture and food storage containers, so be vigilant if you notice any of these signs.

 

Rat Droppings

Rat droppings

When rats explore your home, destroying your furniture and leaking ammonia, they will leave behind droppings and urine. You need to look out for small droppings, which look like pellets. You will find these along furniture and near walls, as rats use the same travel routes because they have poor vision. 

 

Rats In The Walls?

Sometimes, you won’t see visible signs of rats because they’re living inside your walls, so how do you find them? Here are some ways to sniff them out:

  1. Pull out your heavy kitchen appliances and look for droppings – the attic and basement are also great places to look. 
  2. Rats make soft nests, which means they may take material from insulation and fabric. 
  3. Put your ears to the walls and listen for scuttering, running, and squeaking.
  4. Rats are greasy pests, so look for smears and smudges along the walls. 
  5. Dig deep into the back of your kitchen cupboards – rats love to chew through food packages and containers. 

You can use the tactics above to figure out if you have a rat infestation, and you may also find live or dead rodents turning up, which is when you have definitive proof. When this happens, call in a professional rat exterminator to clear your home. 

 

Potential Damage Caused By Rats

We’ve already mentioned that rats will damage anything they can get their teeth around, but what exactly does that look like?

  • With more tech in our homes than ever before, there are countless wires for rats to choose from. In the US, around 20-25% of all house fires are caused by rats and other rodents. You can also be electrocuted by live wires, which can cause death in extreme cases. 
  • Rats chew through wood, insulation, drywall, and other essential parts of your home. If left unchecked, you can face structural damage. 
  • Rats will tear through furniture, including your favourite throw pillows. 
  • If you have physical books or important documents, rats will chew paper if they get the chance. 
  • As rats multiply in numbers, you may find it difficult to sleep as they scuttle through the walls. 

Rat damage is rarely good, but when their numbers grow exponentially, you can be left with irreplaceable and expensive damage. 

 

How To Eliminate The Problem

The thought of living alongside rats leaves most people with shudders down their spines. Fortunately, there are plenty of effective steps you can take to clear them out and keep them away for good. Problem with Rat Infestation?

Home Inspection

When you suspect rats in your home, you need to find out where they’re hiding before you can get rid of them. You will need to inspect the outside of your home and pay attention to drainage systems. When you find potential entrances, you need to observe the internal entry point for signs of rat infestations. 

Rats can travel up your house through the wall, which means they’re not always rearing their heads close to the external access point. Have a look in your home for holes in the walls, including ventilation systems.

Gap Sealing

Despite being fairly large, rats will squeeze themselves through tiny holes to get into your house. When you find external entry points you need to fill them in – if you can fit two fingers through the hole, a rat can get in. If you want the filling to last, you should use wire wool, caulk, or cement and check the entrance every month. 

 

Spring Cleaning

Rats thrive in a shelter, which makes a cluttered home a paradise. Declutter your home, scrub the walls, and get behind your appliances to remove their hiding spots. When you throw food rubbish out, make sure it’s not left outside in an exposed bag because rats will enjoy the easy feast. 

 

Rat Trapping

Once you’ve found their entry points, filled in the gaps, and cleaned your home deeply, you can lay traps along popular routes. There are plenty of different rat traps out there, and you can remove them from your home humanely. 

If you’ve done a good job with the steps above, you will stop spotting signs of rat infestations. However, to be on the safe side, it’s best to call in a professional to give your home the once over. 

 

Natural Rat Remedies

Rat Infestation? Rats are sensitive to certain smells, which means we can use natural deterrents to keep rats away. Garlic cloves, black pepper, cayenne, and peppermint oil are all great common ingredients that you can spread around the home. For the best results, you should line the lower extremities of your house to make it unappealing.

 

Conclusion

Sharing your home with a rat isn’t ideal, and it can cause extensive damage if left unchecked. You should familiarise yourself with the visible signs of a rat infestation, including droppings, chew marks, and footprints. Once you’ve established an infestation, you need to figure out where they come from and seal up the gaps. If you want to be on the safe side, call in a professional exterminator to deal with the infestation. 

Read more about rats and how to control rat infestation.

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