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tien le

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Jackie Lee

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Jay Smith

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Fyza Hashim

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Anna I Peña

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Natalie Freeman

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Kevin Harris

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C. R. V.

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George Dragonir

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How do rats get into houses?

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Home > Blog >  How do rats get into houses?

Rat infestations are on the rise throughout Texas, primarily because of the state’s ongoing drought and increased construction projects. 

Have you spotted a rat on your property lately (inside or outside)? Are you worried about how rats and other rodents can affect your health and well-being?

This guide is for you.

Read on for answers to all your most pressing rat-related questions, from “How do rats get into houses?” to “What should I do about a rat infestation?”

Health risks associated with rats

Rats can bring all kinds of diseases into your home, where you can acquire them through bites, scratching, and exposure to their urine. The following are some of the most well-known health risks associated with rats:

Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome

Hantavirus is transmitted by rice rats (one of many species that reside in Texas).

You can develop this condition by inhaling dust contaminated with rat droppings or urine or making direct contact with feces or urine. In rare cases, it can also be caused by rat bites.


Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease transmitted by exposure to contaminated water. Those who work outside or with animals are more likely to develop Leptospirosis.

Rat-bite fever

As the name suggests, this condition is transmitted through rat bites, scratches, and other forms of contact.


If you consume food or water that has been contaminated by bacteria in rat feces, you may develop Salmonellosis.


The plague is transmitted by fleas but carried by rats. Domestic rats are the most well-known spreaders.

Cutaneous leishmaniasis

Cutaneous leishmaniasis is a parasitic infection transmitted to a person when bitten by infected sand flies that have fed on wildwood rats.

How do rats get into houses?

Rats can enter your home in various ways, particularly if they need access to food, water, or shelter from the elements. Some of the most common methods rats use to sneak into houses are explained below:

Cracks in walls or the foundation

Rats can easily squeeze through tiny spaces, even those as small as a quarter. If you have cracks in your house’s walls or foundation, you’re providing rats with wide-open doorways they can use to get inside.


If your house has a chimney, it might also have a built-in rat entrance. Some rats will scurry along the roof and climb down the chimney, particularly if they’re seeking warmth during cold or wet weather. 

Roof damage

Even if you don’t have a chimney, rats can still use your roof to get into your house. If you have holes in your roof (remember, they don’t have to be very big), rats can get through and set up shop in your attic.


Many vents feature openings that rats can easily squeeze through. They can also push through the gaps around the vent if it’s not sealed correctly.

Gaps around windows

If your windows don’t close all the way, you’re not just letting cold air out during the summer and warm air out during the winter. You could also be inviting rats inside. They can sneak through gaps around the windows, particularly if the screens or weatherstripping are damaged.

Signs of a rat infestation

Some people don’t realize they’re facing a rat infestation until these rodents have been scurrying around for several weeks or months.

Here are some signs to watch for so you can catch rats sooner (and minimize the damage they cause to you and your loved ones):


Rat droppings are shiny black pellets, usually about 1/2 an inch to 3/4 of an inch long. If you notice rat droppings in your home, that’s a good sign that they’ve snuck in and have found something (or many things) to feast on.


Rat urine is yellow and has a strong, ammonia-like smell.

If you notice this odor, particularly in your attic, basement, crawlspaces, or other areas where rats tend to camp out, they’re likely urinating (and potentially spreading disease-causing bacteria) throughout your home.

Nesting materials

Rats build nests from materials like shredded paper, dried leaves from plants, and scraps of fabric. If you find tiny piles of these materials throughout your home, that’s evidence of a rat (or likely a family of rats) trying to themselves comfortable.

Chew marks

Rats will chew through just about anything, from cardboard boxes to your walls. You will likely spot tiny chew marks on items in your home if rats have found their way inside.

Stale smells

In addition to the ammonia-like smell of urine, rats may also cause a stale, musty smell to develop around your home. If you’ve noticed this smell but haven’t been able to pin down its source, rats could be the culprits.

How to keep rats out of your home

Regardless of its severity, a rat infestation puts your health and your home at risk. The following tips will help you keep them away:

Seal gaps and holes

The first step is to identify and seal any gaps or holes that rats could use as entryways.

Once you’ve found these spaces, fill them with steel wool. Then use spray foam or caulk to keep the steel wool in place and eliminate openings. 

For larger holes, cover them with lath screens, lath metal, cement, hardware cloth, or metal sheeting. 

Pay attention to outbuildings, sheds, and garages, as well as your home. Rats can easily scurry into these places and eventually find their way into the main house.

Seal food and water sources

If rats know they can access food and water easily in your home, they’re going to be more likely to stick around and sneak back in. Make it harder for them to get their paws on your food and water with the following strategies-

  • Seal all food in plastic, metal, or glass containers with airtight lids
  • Clean up spills immediately
  • Wash dishes and cooking utensils after use
  • Store pet food in a tightly sealed bag or container
  • Don’t leave pet food or water out overnight.

Rats aren’t picky about food safety. They will gladly climb into your trash cans and rummage around.

Use thick plastic or metal trash bins with tight lids to prevent this from happening. Empty the trash regularly, too.

Seal outdoor nesting sites and food sources

Rats can also wreak havoc on your yard. Use these sealant and storage techniques to deter them-

  • Put all trash in bins with tightly fitting lids
  • Keep cooking areas and grills clean
  • Store composting bins at least 100 feet from the house
  • Set up bird feeders far away from the house
  • Store grains and animal feed in plastic or metal containers with tightly fitting lids
  • Store abandoned vehicles at least 100 feet from your home
  • Move woodpiles at least 100 feet from your home and raise them at least one foot off the ground
  • Clean up brush and weeds around the house and keep all grass and shrubbery well-trimmed.

If you have a picnic or barbecue outdoors, be sure to pick up all leftover food and bring it inside or throw it in the trash right away. Otherwise, you could end up with rats and other pests (such as ants).

What to do about a rat infestation

If you’ve noticed signs of a rat infestation in your home, take action immediately. Reach out to a local pest control professional and ask for their help.

Pest control technicians will use a combination of traps, disinfectants, and sealants to eliminate rats and prevent them from coming back.

When you hire a pest control team, you can expect the following:


Every good pest control treatment starts with an inspection. The technician will evaluate your home and surrounding property to identify all the different ways rats might be entering.

Sealing gaps

Pest control teams can help you seal all the gaps in your home, including ones you might not have known about otherwise, to make it harder for rats to get inside.

Humane traps

Look for a pest control professional that uses humane traps to catch rats and take them away from your property.


After catching and releasing rats, the pest control team will use a fog machine to distribute disinfectant throughout your home and eliminate any bacteria left behind by rats.

Get rats out of your house today

Rats can enter your home in several ways, from a hole in the roof to a gap between your window and window frame. 

Whether you’re currently facing a rat problem or you want to do whatever you can to prevent one, the tips and strategies discussed above can help. Don’t forget to partner with an experienced pest control team, too.

At Natran Green Pest Control, we offer safe and eco-friendly solutions to catch rats, control infestations, and prevent them from coming back. 

Get in touch today to schedule an inspection or learn about our rodent control solutions.

Schedule a Free Inspection With Natran Today.

Fast, effective results for your pest problems.
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