Why you should be concerned when you see rats in your house?

Is rat infestation serious? What are the signs of rat infestation? How to prevent and eradicate rat infestation? Click here to learn more

As winter approaches, rodents will be seeking shelter and food, posing a heightened concern this year due to ongoing circumstances. COVID-19 restrictions have led to the closures of many businesses, especially restaurants and takeaway shops. This reduction in food waste from restaurants means rodents will need to find new food sources, potentially increasing their activity.

Businesses, particularly those closed or operating with fewer people, face higher risks of infestation due to reduced human activity on premises. This situation may lead to increased rodent and cockroach activity.

Each winter typically sees more rodents entering homes in search of shelter and food, and this year is expected to be no different. Experts predict that the number of rodents could triple compared to previous years, resulting in cities and towns experiencing a significant rise in rodent activity this winter.

Discovering rats in your home can be more than just a nuisance; it’s a situation that requires immediate attention and action. Here’s why you should be concerned when you see rats in your house.


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A close-up of a brown rat (Rattus norvegicus)
peeking out of a crevice in a tree log

Is Rat Infestation Serious?

Rat infestation is a serious issue that should be addressed promptly and effectively. Here are several reasons why rat infestations are considered serious:

Health Risks

Rats are known carriers of various diseases that can be transmitted to humans through direct contact with their urine, droppings, saliva, and bites. Diseases such as leptospirosis, hantavirus, salmonellosis, and rat-bite fever are examples of illnesses that can result from exposure to rats. These diseases can range from mild to severe and can pose significant health risks, especially to vulnerable individuals such as children, the elderly, and those with weakened immune systems.

Damage to Property

Rats are notorious chewers and gnawers. They can cause extensive damage to structures, insulation, wiring, and even plumbing. This chewing behaviour not only compromises the integrity of buildings but also poses fire hazards (from exposed wiring) and can lead to costly repairs. In some cases, rats have been known to cause electrical fires due to their gnawing on wires.

Contamination of Food and Water

Rats are opportunistic feeders and can contaminate food and water supplies in homes, restaurants, and other facilities where food is stored or prepared. They leave behind droppings, urine, and hair that can render food unsafe for consumption, leading to food poisoning and other health issues.

Reproduction Rate

Rats reproduce rapidly. A single pair of rats can produce multiple litters in a year, each containing several offspring. This rapid reproduction rate means that a small rat problem can escalate into a full-blown infestation in a short amount of time, if not addressed promptly.

Impact on Mental Well-being

The presence of rats in a home can cause significant stress, anxiety, and discomfort for residents. The constant worry about potential damage to property, health risks, and the invasion of personal space can have a negative impact on mental well-being.

Difficulty in Eradication

Rat infestations can be challenging to eradicate once they have established themselves in a property. DIY methods may not be effective in completely eliminating rats, and professional pest control services are often required to assess the extent of the infestation and implement appropriate treatment plans.

Lastly, addressing a rat infestation promptly is essential for preventing further spread and recurrence. Ignoring the problem or attempting ineffective DIY methods may only allow the infestation to worsen over time, making it harder and more expensive to eradicate in the future. Expert rat exterminator services can assess the extent of the infestation, implement effective treatment plans, and provide guidance on preventing future issues.

In short, seeing rats in your house should be a cause for immediate concern and action. Their potential to spread disease, cause property damage, contaminate food supplies, and affect mental well-being makes them a serious threat to both health and home. Taking proactive steps to address a rat infestation promptly is crucial for safeguarding your family, property, and peace of mind.

What Are the Signs of Rat Infestation?

Detecting a rat infestation early is crucial for taking swift action to address the problem. Here are common signs that indicate you may have rats in your home:

Domestic rat in a cage holds food with its paws and eats. A rodent with whiskers, a tail, and whitefooted mice is sitting in a cage, gazing out the window. It may be a pet or a pest like packrats
  1. Droppings: Rat droppings are a clear indicator of their presence. They are typically dark brown or black in color, elongated, and about the size of a grain of rice. You may find them concentrated in specific areas such as along walls, near food sources, or in hidden corners.
  2. Gnaw Marks: Rats have strong teeth and gnaw on various materials to keep them trimmed down. Look for gnaw marks on wood, plastic, wires, and even food packaging. Fresh gnaw marks will appear lighter in colour and may have visible tooth impressions.
  3. Tracks and Grease Marks: Rats tend to follow the same paths as they move around, leaving tracks and smudges of grease and dirt along walls and baseboards. These marks are more visible on lighter-coloured surfaces and can indicate high-traffic areas.
  4. Nesting Materials: Rats use soft materials such as shredded paper, fabric, insulation, and plant matter to build nests. Discovering nests in hidden or sheltered areas like attics, basements, or behind appliances suggests a rat infestation.
  5. Strange Noises: Rats are active primarily at night, so you might hear scratching, scurrying, or squeaking noises coming from walls, ceilings, or under floorboards. These sounds typically indicate their movement and nesting activities.
  6. Smudge Marks: Rats have oily fur, and they often leave greasy smudge marks along walls and surfaces they frequently rub against. These marks can accumulate over time and are more noticeable in well-used pathways.
  7. Chewed Food or Packaging: Rats will gnaw through food containers, cardboard boxes, and even plastic bags to access food. Finding damaged food packaging or partially eaten food items is a strong sign of rat activity.
  8. Unusual Pet Behavior: If your pets suddenly become alert, stare at walls or corners, or show interest in areas where they normally wouldn’t, it could indicate they sense the presence of rats or other pests.
  9. Unexplained Pet Illnesses: Rats can transmit diseases to pets. If your pets show signs of illness that aren’t easily explained, it might be due to exposure to rat-borne pathogens.
  10. Rub Marks: Rats use established routes along walls and surfaces, leaving rub marks where their fur repeatedly comes into contact with these areas. These marks can be faint and difficult to notice unless you’re actively looking for them.

If you notice any of these signs of rat infestation in your home, it’s essential to take action promptly to prevent the problem from worsening. Contacting an expert rat exterminator service is often the most effective way to safely and thoroughly eliminate rats from your living space.

How to Prevent and Eradicate Rat Infestation?

Preventing and eradicating a rat infestation involves a combination of proactive measures to make your home less attractive to rats and effective strategies to eliminate existing rats. Here’s a comprehensive guide on how to prevent and eradicate rat infestations:

Prevention

  1. Seal Entry Points:
    • Inspect your home for any gaps or openings that rats could use to enter, such as cracks in walls, gaps around pipes, doors, and windows.
    • Seal these openings with durable materials like steel wool, metal flashing, or caulk to prevent rats from gaining access.
  2. Keep Food and Trash Secure:
    • Store food in airtight containers made of glass, metal, or thick plastic to prevent rats from contaminating it.
    • Dispose of garbage regularly in bins with tightly sealed lids, and keep outdoor bins elevated off the ground.
  3. Maintain Cleanliness:
    • Keep your home and yard free of clutter, which can provide hiding places for rats.
    • Clean up spills and crumbs promptly, and regularly vacuum or sweep floors to remove food debris that may attract rats.
  4. Trim Vegetation:
    • Trim back vegetation and shrubbery around your home, as overgrown plants can provide hiding spots and pathways for rats to access your house.
  5. Remove Water Sources:
    • Fix any leaks or standing water sources both indoors and outdoors, as rats need water to survive.
  6. Secure Pet Food:
    • Store pet food in rat-proof containers and avoid leaving it out overnight, especially in areas accessible to rodents.
  7. Install Rat Deterrents:
    • Consider using ultrasonic repellents or devices that emit high-frequency sounds to deter rats from entering your home.
House rat trapped inside and cornered in a metal mesh mousetrap cage. concept of fear and pest control.

Eradication

Non-Chemical Control Methods

The most effective way to prevent or eliminate rat and mouse infestations is through basic hygiene practices. Regular vacuuming to remove food particles from floors is crucial. Additionally, storing food in sealed containers and using tightly fitting lids on garbage bins helps deter rodents. It’s also important to promptly remove rubbish, especially garden waste.

Sealing holes in walls around water and drainage pipes is essential to prevent rodents from entering buildings. Typically, materials like cement or metal sheeting are used for effective sealing. Conducting a thorough inspection of the building to identify and seal potential entry points is the initial step in rodent-proofing.

Trapping rats and mice is commonly done by homeowners or pest control professionals. There are various types of traps available, from single snap traps to multiple-catch devices capable of holding up to 30 mice.

Single snap traps can be used with bait such as nuts or apples, or set unbaited with the trigger covered by fine pieces of cardboard or sawdust. They should be placed in areas where rodents are likely to travel, typically along their pathways.

It’s important to avoid setting traps near food preparation areas because trapped rodents may release blood, urine, or faeces. When a rodent is caught, its fleas may leave the body and seek other hosts. Therefore, traps should be checked frequently, and rodents along with any fleas should be removed promptly.

Chemical Control Methods

While many homeowners prefer chemical control methods, there are situations where chemicals may not be suitable due to safety concerns:

  • Rodents may die and decompose in inaccessible areas.
  • Poisoned rodents may be ingested by pets.
  • Some individuals may have sensitivities to chemicals.

Trapping can be a more economical option to eliminate rodents that survive baiting programs. Anticoagulant poisons are commonly used, which prevent blood clotting, leading to haemorrhaging and eventual death of rodents.

Multiple-dose anticoagulants are available as dry bait and require continuous feeding over four to ten days to be effective. This ensures that anticoagulant levels build up in the rodents’ bloodstream, causing death.

Single-dose anticoagulants, available as pellets or blocks, achieve the same outcome but require only one feeding session over three to seven days.

Both types of anticoagulant baits are toxic to other warm-blooded animals, so bait stations must be placed where children, pets, wildlife, and livestock cannot access them easily.

In case of accidental ingestion, immediate medical attention is crucial. For children, vitamin K1 is an effective antidote, while pets should be taken to a veterinarian promptly for advice and treatment.

Please note that DIY methods are often ineffective and worsen the infestation, so we recommend considering hiring expert rat exterminators. Professionals can conduct a thorough inspection, identify entry points, and implement safe and effective eradication methods

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