Rats are one of the most notorious and disagreeable of wildlife infestations, carrying disease-causing bacteria and ectoparasites such as fleas, ticks, lice and others, as well as causing widespread damage to property and contaminating human food supplies.
The two main species of rat populations that we most frequently are called in to exterminate are sewer rats and roof rats. If you suspect you have a rat infestation, it is important for us to identify which rat species is responsible, since this can affect the type of measures that we take to exterminate it.
Sewer rats, also known as brown rats, like to burrow beneath garbage, wood piles and along foundations. They usually stay down in the basement or ground floor when they invade buildings. They line their nests with shredded fibrous material such as cloth, paper, plastic and other fabrics. They like to feed close to home – usually less than 50 meters (150 feet) from their nests - and females produce and wean around 20 young per year in no more than 6 separate litters.
Roof rats, also known as black rats, prefer to build their nests in dense trees, shrubs and ivy-like vegetation high above the ground. When they move in with humans, they like to set up home inside cabinets, attics, roofs, false ceilings or between wall spaces. Roof rats travel further distances in search of food sources, and may even nest in mature landscaping vegetation in one property, and feed in places up to 100 meters (300 feet) away. They are also faster, more agile, and much better climbers than sewer rats. Female roof rats produce fewer litters per year, but with more offspring per litter, and may even wean up to 40 young in a 12 month period.
Both of these rat species will aggressively and persistently try to enter your home or commercial premises, and will use every means possible in order to do so – climbing, jumping, gnawing, even swimming through sewers and forcing an entry through broken drains and toilets.
You should take action as soon as you think you might have a rat problem, as they produce rapidly. The more rats there are, it will become more expensive, time consuming, and difficult to treat and fix.
The tell-tale signs of rat infestations are:
- Presence of rat droppings around pet bowls or in your food stores.
- Rustling sounds coming from your attic or basement just after sundown.
- Gnawing sounds in your attic, basement or between the walls in the middle of the night.
- Signs of rat nests in your firewood pile, discarded boxes, recycling containers, newspaper piles, the back of your garage, or outhouses where empty containers tend to accumulate.
- Signs of teeth mark on fruit, bread and other foodstuffs left out at night or fallen beneath trees.
- Dead (or worse, live) rats in your yard or inside the house.
- Sightings of rats running along fences and power lines at dusk.
- Entry holes to burrows near your garden shed, dog kennel, among plants or in your vegetable garden where you may also see signs of gnawed at crops.
The main difference between mice and rats is that mice are a lot smaller than their rat counterparts. Mice are often described as tiny, sparrow-sized creatures with long, thin tails. Rats on the other hand, are a lot larger, being described as a medium sized rodent. Rats have an average length of 12 cm or longer, while mice are only around 28-130 mm long. Mice also have small sized feces, while the feces of a rat is typically a lot larger.
Different species of rats build their nests in different places. For example, most rats, like the Norway rat, like to build their nest underground. Meanwhile, other species like the roof rat, will like to build their nests on top of houses and buildings. Some other rats enjoy making their nests in farmer’s fields as well.
Rats and rodents are known to carry many diseases and transmit dangerous bacteria. Some of the diseases they can carry and transmit are:
- Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome
- Hemorrhagic Fever with Renal Syndrome
- Lassa Fever
- Lymphocytic Chorio-meningitis
- Omsk Hemorrhagic Fever
- South American Arenaviruses
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