Pest Information: Rats

Oh Rats!

Every homeowner agrees that rats are the last pests that they would like to deal with. It is easy to see why. They are classified as pests since they love to invade houses, get into every food source they can get their grubby paws on and spread diseases. If that wasn’t enough, rats have a habit of urinating on everything they step on, even food items. In addition, they like gnawing on electric wires. Needless to say, an infestation can devastate a home.

Types of Rats

Two of the most common types of rats that plague households across the country include –

Roof Rats

Also called black rats by some, roof rats can grow an impressive 16 inches. They are also called roof rats for a very good reason. Roof rats are expert climbers and get their name because they like living higher up from the ground; usually, on rooftops.

If you think they won’t be able to find any footholds on the exterior walls of your home, think again. They can use their superb climbing skills to scale the tree beside your home and get in through the hole in the attic window.

Female roof rats can become pregnant 48 hours after giving birth and breed all year long. In other words, an infestation can get out of control pretty fast if it is not dealt with immediately.

Habitat – Besides roofs, roof rats love to live in attics, boxes, garages, under flooring, thick grass and piles of wood.

Diet – The species loves to chow down on berries, rotten food, fruits, nuts, slugs, pet food and snails.

Roof rats can cause a considerable amount of damage in their wake. They carry diseases such as the Hantavirus, chew structures and damage roofs. The first symptoms of the virus can be mistaken for flu symptoms. Victims often have trouble breathing. The disease can be transmitted through the air especially when someone inhales airborne particles that come from rat droppings or their dead carcasses.

The pests might not have very good eyesight but that doesn’t stop them for using their powerful sense of smell to find out where you keep the cheese.

Norway Rats

Also known as sewer rats, Norway rats are larger than roof rats. They can be more aggressive towards animals, people and even each other. In addition, they are also known to attack infants in their cribs.

Norway rats are characterized by their gray and stocky bodies. In addition, their tails are also shorter than the entire length of their bodies. Like roof rats, Norway rats also urinate on food and chew on wires.

Habitat – Once these rats infiltrate a home, they head straight to the ground floor or basement. Don’t be surprised if you find your toilet paper torn to shreds. The pests love to line their nests with paper based products.

Diet – These rats aren’t choosy about what they eat but they especially love sinking their teeth into grains, nuts, fruits, fish and other meats.

If that isn’t enough for you to call the pest control service, know this; rats were responsible for eradicating half of the population of the UK for spreading the deadly bubonic plague during the Middle Ages.

The pests have been known to carry as much as 30 diseases besides the bubonic plague. These include Streptobacillus moniliformis bacteria or Rat Bite fever which, as the name implies, is transmitted by a rat bite. Another disease, the Rickettsia virus, looks like chickenpox. A deadlier disease, Eosinophilic Meningitis causes an infection in the brain.

Get rid of them before it is too late

Rat traps can come in handy if you only have a few rats to deal with. The humane traps should be checked on a regular basis and their prisoners freed away from your home.

An infestation, on the other hand, is another matter entirely. As mentioned, a rat infestation can become pretty hard to control once it has been allowed to flourish.

Remember, if you spot one rat, chances are the rest of the family are hiding or foraging nearby. While telltale signs such as rat pellets or droppings can be a sign of a possible infestation, it is best that you don’t look for or try to eradicate the pests yourself. The diseases mentioned above should give you enough reason not to.