When your child thinks of a rat, he or she probably things of the loveable chef Remmy from the Disney/Pixar movie, “Ratatouille,” but as an adult, you know that rats can be far more destructive and far less cute when they’re in your home — and not preparing your dinner.
Though domesticated rats can be great pets, the ones that infiltrate your home and make nests in your walls are not there to be your friend. For one thing, rats can be carriers of diseases and often pass diseases from fleas to humans. As you probably remember from high school history, rats contributed to the spreading of the bubonic plague, which wiped out a third of the population of Europe during the Middle Ages, but they can also spread other diseases such as Hauntavirus Pulmonary Syndrome, which can kill if not treated.
Rats can also cause major destruction to your home. They can chew through wood and destroy the foundation of your home. They can also get into your cabinets and pantries, contaminating your food. The last thing you want to do is open a box of crackers and discover a rat has already started eating them.
So it goes without saying that if you think you might have a rat infestation in your home, you need to take care of it before harm is done to your family. But rats don’t like to hang out in the open. They prefer to sneak around and find places to build their nests close to food sources. In larger homes, it can be especially difficult to tell whether or not an infestation has taken place because there are so many places to hide.
If you think you have a rat infestation, here are a few common signs to be looking out for — and how green pest control can help keep rats out of your home for good.
Common signs of a rat infestation
Like people, all rats are different, and they operate in similar, but ultimately different ways depending on the environment. For example, some people are great about locking up food sources in their kitchens, but their basements are not secure and offer rats a great place to build a nest and have easy access to the outside where rats can find food. So that being said, it’s not always easy to tell when a rat infestation has happened.
However, you can look for these common signs of a rat infestation to help you know when to call for green pest control. Here are the top five common signs.
- Rat droppings and urine smells
Ew, right? Perhaps one of the easiest ways to spot a rat infestation is to look for rat droppings and the telltale signs of rat urine in your home. Pretty gross, but rats aren’t too picky about where they relieve themselves.
If you noticed little, dark brown, spindle-shaped bits on the floor of your home or in your cabinets, those aren’t grains of rice. Those are rats droppings. Where you see rat droppings, a rat nest probably isn’t too far away. If you decide to look closer — and we wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t — you can tell how recent the rat has been in your home if the pellet looks wet or dry. A wet pellet means the rat is probably nearby. A dry one means the rat may be long gone. These pellets are usually in groups, so they can be somewhat easy to spot.
As if that weren’t bad enough, rat urine can be highly unpleasant. Though you might not realize what it is at first — you might think it’s just a split puddle or water or water trekked in from outside — you can usually distinguish rat urine from a puddle of water because of its distinctive smell. It’s very musky. If you suddenly have a musky smell hanging around your home, then it’s a good indication that you’ve got a serious rat problem.
- Rub marks and grease
Have you noticed of black or brown marks on your floors or between pathways or small crevices in your home? Maybe you can see odd grease-looking marks between the spindles of your railing or maybe you’ve noticed greasy marks near baseboards.
Rats move in and around your home, and it’s not uncommon for them to get dirty and greasy — it’s not like they’re taking regular baths, after all. You may notice greasy marks on your baseboards or along the walls near your countertops. These are caused when rats squeeze themselves around your home and leave marks as they go.
In addition to greasy marks, you may also find places where rats have gnawed at the wood, causing small holes. These holes can actually be deceivingly small — roughly about the size of a quarter. That may not seem like a big enough space for a rat to climb in or out of, but rats can fit themselves into very tight spaces.
If you see grease marks, there are a few things you can do. First, try to smear the greasy with your fingers. If it smears, then you know the rats were there recently and you may have a big problem. If the marks don’t smear, that doesn’t mean you’re out of the clear. You may have just missed the rodents.
Next, look around near the greasy marks for gnaw marks, especially holes. This is where the rats have likely gone after leaving the marks.
- Rat footprints
Sometimes a little dirt and dust can come in handy. Though rat footprints might look somewhat cute, they’re also dead giveaways for an infestation.
Now in homes that are cleaned regularly, you probably won’t notice too many rat footprints. In garages, however, footprints are easier to spot. Dirt in the corners and dust in other places can make it pretty easy to spot these little footprints. Garages are a favorite hang out for rats because they combine two big benefits: a safe, warm place to live and easy access to places where they might find food, either your house or outside.
Rat footprints can easily lead you to where the rats might be making a nest, so be mindful if you see other indications of an infestation. The footprints may come in handy.
- Scratching noises
That’s not a ghost in your walls. Those scratching noises you hear in the walls could actually be rats scurrying around, building nests, looking for food and destroying the wood within your walls.
Like racoons, rats are nocturnal, which can make them difficult to spot right away if you like to go to bed early. At night, they go out to search for food, gather supplies to build their nests and look for new places to explore. If you’re quiet, you can usually hear them moving around, identifiable by light scratching sounds or tiny paws moving from one section of a wall or closet to another.
It’s an unnerving noise to hear, but if you’re unsure of a rat infestation, it can be very telling. In some cases, you might be able to find where the rats are hanging out, which will help you later with green pest control.
- Rat nests and burrows
For the most part, rats like to dig burrows outside. You might find these around the sides of your home or even near the side garage door. This gives the rats an easy way to get in and out of your home or garage.
Over the years in Houston, roof rats have also become more common. These rats live in trees and make their nests up there. If they have a point of entry — say, a tree branch that hangs over the roof of your home — then they will likely climb onto your roof and look for a way into your attic. Roof rats love attic spaces because they provide all the comforts of home. They’re quiet and warm, and they give easy access to the outside where they can find food.
Roof rats can be especially problematic because you probably won’t notice when until you have a full infestation on your hands. After all, how often do you go into your attic? This gives rats all the time in the world to build a good nest in your attic and start making their way into your home.
If nothing else, look to the reactions of your pets. You may notice your cat or dog picking up an odd scent and hanging out in some uncomfortable areas of your home or yard. They may be difficult to remove from that area or find themselves running back to it after you’ve called them. If this happens, look for other signs of rat infestations mentioned above.
Tips for preventing rat infestations
Humans have been trying to keep rats out of homes for generations, and nothing has been quite full-proof just yet. But there are things you can do to better protect your home from an infestation, and they’re all forms of green pest control.
- Secure all food sources: Don’t leave food out on tables and secure any chips, crackers or loose food in your cabinets. These attract rats, so it’s best to clean up crumbs and keep food in secure containers and clipped shut.
- Keep your home, garage and garden clean: Rats love to find space among clutter. In your home, keep up your regular cleaning routine and make sure you extend that to your garage and garden. Rats don’t need much of an invitation to make their homes, afterall.
- Store pet food securely: Like other food, pet food should also be secured and kept above the ground.
- Trim trees so they do not hang on your roof: Remember, this is how roof rats get inside your home.
With these tips on green pest control, you can stop rats from getting into your home and making a nest within.
How green pest control can fight rat infestations
You know that rats and other live animals cannot stay in your home, but ask yourself: Do you really want to kill the animal? At Natran Green Pest Control, we recognize that sometimes critters like to invite themselves into our homes, but that doesn’t mean they deserve to be killed. We don’t believe in harming live animals, and our green pest control methods ensure that we don’t have to.
Our experts in green pest control use humane traps to bait the rats or other live animals who have made nests in your home. We use these outside to capture animals and move them. Inside, our green pest control experts will go through your home and seal up any potential points of entry. We’ll check your whole home from your basement to the attic, looking for signs of rat infestations and points of entry that rats may be exploiting to gain entry to your home.
Natran Green Pest Control believes in protecting our people, pets and planet, so we don’t use harsh chemicals in our traps. We offer humane wildlife control services, which means we will trap the animal and relocate it to a new habitat. It’s green pest control that we believe in, so we work hard to keep your home pest free.
We know rat infestations can be stressful. That’s why our experts in green pest control have been trained to spot the first signs of an infestation and help you come up with a plan of attack. We will help you assess the damage to your home and determine exactly how the rats are getting into your home. We’ll give you green pest control methods to protect your home against rat infestations, and we’ll keep the critters out of your home.
Tell us: what are your top green pest control tips for keeping rats out of your home? Share with us in the comments and let us know how Natran Green Pest Control can help.