If you notice small objects like jewelry or buttons disappearing, with small droppings found in the places they used to be, and holes chewed in things like clothes or food containers, you might have an infestation of woodrats. After you have identified the presence of woodrats, dealing with an infestation can be quite simple, provided you take the proper steps. Below are some tips to aid you in identifying woodrats and ensuring that they are completely dealt with:
What are Woodrats?
Woodrats are the inspiration for the term “pack rat”; they are notorious for taking small objects for use in nest building or trading. Appropriately enough, they favor shiny things such as coins for these purposes and have been known to abandon other objects if something shiny catches their attention. Apart from their tendencies to hoard, woodrats are still small rodents and will bring the same type of problems most varieties of rodents will cause.
Woodrats have large, round ears on the top of their head and a tail much like a squirrel. Although the fur on the tail is flattened, it is long and bushy. They primarily have brown fur and can grow up to 18 inches in size (including their very long tails). They usually eat things such as leaves or needles as their primary diet but are usually not too picky in what they choose to eat.
Where are Woodrats Found?
If you live in a forested area of the United States or Canada, chances are high that woodrats are nearby. As one of the most cold-resistant species of rodent, woodrats can live comfortably in artic Canada as well as drier areas, such as Arizona or New Mexico. They like rocky areas, which give the woodrats lots of little places to build nests in, and they prefer to stay by cliffs, rocky fields, or buildings.
When searching for a woodrat nest, look for a natural crevice covered with a barrier of sticks or a hidden, secluded area within a building (usually behind a wall and out of sight). If possible, these creatures are known to build larger structures of living areas called a midden, where multiple nests may sometimes be found.
Why Should I Control Woodrat Populations?
Woodrats have a very high breeding rate—if left unchecked; a small can easily grow into a large community. In addition, they don’t hibernate, which means they are not limited by seasonal factors. In other words, woodrats can be a persistent and irritating problem to resolve.
As a prey species, woodrats have a great variety of predators, including snakes. If not removed, a population may attract more dangerous threats to living near your home.
Why Should I Control Woodrat Populations?
When removing a woodrat colony, exterminating individual rodents will not completely solve the problem; rather, you must prohibit them from accessing their natural living areas. Any opening larger than ½ inch should be sealed with a sturdy material, such as a portion sheet metal – something that won’t be easily chewed through like plastic or wood might be. Make sure to be thorough when looking for these openings; woodrats are known to be agile climbers and can enter elevated areas. Once you have sealed off places where they may enter your home, setting out traps and bait should be your next move.
A small population can be neutralized with trapping alone and comes with the benefit of dead rat disposal. For larger infestations, poisonous bait can be purchased and placed in areas that woodrats frequent. However, care should be taken to ensure that pets and small children don’t get into the bait, as well, as accidental poisoning is a serious matter. With most types of bait on the market today, one exposure should be enough to be lethal to individual rodents. Be sure to remove any dead rats, as they can carry disease or leave an unpleasant smell.
When dealing with woodrats, the most important thing to remember is that you must be thorough. Small rodents are very good at finding places to hide, so methods used need to be complete. Once you have prevented a colony from re-entering the area, traps and bait will eliminate the individual rats and eventually solve the issue entirely.
For further information you may be interested in these articles:
Slugs Removal and Pest Control
How to Get Rid of Garbage Flies
The Most Common Invasive Pests and How to Control Their Spread
The implication that rats may attract “more dangerous threats” is misleading: There is an associated disease threat but rat predators, especially snakes should be encouraged. Owls too are excellent means of hassle-free rat control but domestic cats generally can’t handle rats. There’s nothing for humans to fear from these predators!