This month’s pest spotlight features the rodent known as the rat. Just reading or hearing the name rat might make you shudder, especially at the thought of one or more of them in your home. Rats might be one of those creatures that you just want to put out of your mind, but the truth is, the more informed you are about them, the better prepared you are if you do need to deal with them in or around your home. With temperatures dropping and winter on the approach, many critters including rats, will go in search of warmth and shelter. So keep reading to find out the answer to some of the most common rat questions, plus where to go when you need professional pest control services for all your pest needs.
What is a Rat?
Rats are characterised as medium-sized, long-tailed rodents. Distinguishable from mice mainly by their size, there are 56 species of rat in the world. Some well-known species are the brown rat (Rattus norvegicus) and the black rat (Rattus rattus). A group of rats is known as mischief, and as a species, they are known as opportunistic survivors, often living near, or with human beings. Unfortunately, wild rats are capable of carrying many pathogens which are known as zoonotic, which means that they are capable of being transferred between a non-human (the rat) to humans, and vice versa.
A major characteristic of most rats is their long tail, which is believed to serve important functions for the rat, among which is thermoregulation, the process of regulating body temperature. Their long tails can also be a relatively easy way to identify a rat if you are unsure.
When are Rats Considered a Pest?
Rats have long been considered a pest, and this is largely due to the fact that they are vectors in the spread of diseases, such as Lassa fever and leptospirosis. Many urban areas have a rat problem that they have to try and keep at bay. For instance, in America, New York, Washington DC, and Boston are all known to have rat infestations.
Rats are also considered pests because of their opportunistic nature; they will infest any area that is sheltered and provides easy and regular access to food and water. This includes inside the walls of homes, under sinks, in cabinets, and any place that is near garbage or rubbish.
How Do I Know If I Have a Rat Problem?
There are quite a few ways to identify the presence of rats in the home or a possible infestation. One of the easy to notice signs that rats leave behind is droppings. These can often be found near a source of food, like in cupboards or in the pantry. While not the most pleasant topic, it is important to know how to identify rat droppings in case you come across them in your home. Droppings from rats will be shiny and black in colour, and can be from 12mm to 18mm in length dependant on the species.
Another tell-tale sign of rats in your home is evidence of gnawing. Rats commonly gnaw on skirting boards, furniture, and walls to sharpen their teeth. This is not only an irritating destructive behaviour, but it can be very dangerous as well. If the rats begin to gnaw on plumbing, pipes, and electrical wires and cables, this can lead to very serious consequences, such as house fires.
Further signs of a rat infestation can also be found in any food with damaged packaging. If you find damaged food packaging, rats could be the cause of this – they will bite their way into any food they can find, with the sharp teeth mentioned above. Make sure to throw away any food with damaged packaging – the food will now be contaminated.
How Can I Prevent a Rat Infestation?
There are some general things that you can do in your home to keep rats away, and these tips might be familiar to you, as some of them apply to other types of pests. As mentioned above, rats are opportunistic so if they find a way to access a regular food source, such as your pantry, they will. That’s why it’s important to keep your kitchen exceptionally neat and tidy, and never leave food lying out. Also, keeping a generally clean and tidy home is helpful, as is keeping an eye on any potential rat hiding spaces. Make sure to patch up holes in walls or in the ceiling or roof in order to limit access points into your home that rats can use.
Do You Need Pest Control Services?
If you discover that you have a rat issue, then look no further than Infinity Pest Solutions. We are a proud family-owned business, and we offer you exceptional customer service, alongside professional pest control services. With a team of fully licensed and trained pest controllers, we are ready to help with any and all of your pest problems.