What do rats eat? How do I get rid of rats? Why are they in my house?
- Rats like to make their homes near humans, living in the attics, walls and basements or crawl spaces.
- A rat’s diet varies depending on what is available. They’ll munch on grains, insects, carrion, table scraps found in trash cans and dumpsters.
- Rats are known to carry diseases that can be spread to humans.
- A rat’s teeth never stop growing, so they must chew frequently to prevent them from getting too long.
- Most rats are nocturnal, but may be forced to be diurnal if competition for food becomes too great.
- Rats and mice urinate as they travel as a way to mark their path.
- Rats and Mice have poor eyesight, only making out shapes and light and dark at distances of about ten feet or more.
Norway Rat: (Rattus norvegicus) Also known by the names: Brown, House, Wharf, and Sewer rat, it is the larger of the two more common rat species. Norway rats range in size from 6.5 – 10 inches in combined length of head and body and can range as large as 18 inches in overall length, including the tail, Although this is not very common. They may weigh slightly over a pound when full-grown. Norway rats are light brown with a little yellow or gray on their backs and lighter color on their undersides. They have a more rounded nose than that of the Roof Rat, and their tails are shorter than the length of the head and body. Their eyes and ears are small in comparison to their size. They are most often found at ground level, making their homes under a wood pile, in a retaining wall, under concrete patios, in sewers, but their favorite nesting site is under trash piles. They are nimble climbers though and at times have been found in attics and on the roof.
Roof Rat: (Rattus rattus Linnaeus) Also known by the names: Black or Ship rat. The Roof Rat is very common in our area, as well as in coastal areas and the tropics. They are smaller than the Norway rat, and have different identifying characteristics. They have much larger eyes and ears than that of the Norway rat. Overall length of the body and head is between 5.5 – 8 inches and their tail is noticeably longer than their body. Overall length can be up to 18 inches. Fully developed Roof rats will usually weigh less than a pound.
They are excellent climber and often can be seen traveling along an overhead wire, inhabiting trees, attics and up on the roofs of buildings. But like the Norway rat, they too will live in burrows around structures, in wood piles, under sheds, and other areas at ground level. Because they prefer to be off the ground though, you may notice “Swing Marks” or “Rub Marks” next to the rafter ends on the inside of a building, garage or shed as they are making their way to a nesting site or a food source.
Rats can enter your home or office in a variety of ways. Through open doors, drain pipes, foundation vent screens, and roof line entry points, holes around the structures siding or burrowing under the foundation wall to gain entrance.
One remark we often hear is, “I hear them in the attic. Are you sure they are getting in from the foundation?” Yes, we are sure. That is not to say that there are no other entry points, but once a thorough inspection is done and no access is possible through the roof, we can be confident that they are coming in from the foundation or under the home. With the construction laws requiring a drain from under the home, which usually goes through the foundation wall at some point and leads to a storm drain or other areas, it is easy for them to gain entry by simply following this drain system back into the under structure of a home. Once the rat or other rodent enters your home or office, there are numerous ways they can get to any location within the structure.
Pipe chases, wall voids, HVAC systems, and various other ways make traveling inside the home easy for them. Since they have the capacity to squeeze into rather tight spaces and are very good climbers, they will search your structure from top to bottom looking for food or a suitable nesting site.
Once a rat has made its way into your home or office, they can go undetected for quite a while. In some cases you may never know that you are sharing your space with a rodent, until you have a reason to be where they are.
Things that go “Scratch” in the night!
Rats are constantly chewing to trim their teeth. Being nocturnal, they do most of their chewing and scampering around at night, when you are trying to sleep. Rats will chew on electrical wiring, plastic pipes, metal and sheet rock, wood, doors, cabinets and the list is endless.
How to get rid of Rats
The first step in rat abatement is to locate “how the rats entered your structure!” If you neglect this step, the rats will return again and again until you complete it. Rats have a very acute sense of smell, and are able to locate entrances by smells left from the previous rats. Believe us, they will find those entrances again and use the same ones over and over. Just because you were previously successful in removing the rats with baits or traps, a new population will move in if you do not seal up all the entrances. (This step, cannot be mentioned too many times!)
Next, set snap traps on the “INSIDE” of the structure. Don’t be afraid to set a dozen or more if needed. These traps should be placed in every area of the structure, the crawl space/basement, the attic, the garage and so on… When placing snap traps in an area that may have traffic, such as a kitchen or bathroom, place them in such a way that they will not pose a threat to children and pets. Under cabinets, inside of the cupboards, behind the appliances, and so on.
The third step is to place an “EXTERIOR” bait station. This is a unit (usually made of black plastic) that you will be able to load a rodenticide into. Use only “block type” baits as the loose packs, in either plastic or paper, can and will scatter, leaving a possible poisoning issue for your family pets or wild animals. The baits are formulated with anti-coagulants, that eventually will kill the rodent. Some generic names are “Just one bite”, “Tomcat”, “d-con” and others. (note: d-con is a “place pack bait” in a box or bag, and is considered a “loose” bait. Use with caution! There is a trans-location factor involved with this bait.)