Residential rat infestations are an expensive problem in the United States that costs Americans between $500 million and $1 billion dollars in home damages per year. These infestations are also surprisingly common, with the National Pet Management Association, or NPMA, reporting that almost one-third of American homes are affected by a rodent infestation annually. Additionally, the NPMA has reported that 21 million homes in the United States are plagued by rodents each winter.
Rats and other rodents have secured a bad reputation when it comes to their relationships with humans. Because of this, it is the first instinct of many homeowners and the rat exterminator to kill the rodents that have infested a human’s residence. Although this may seem like an effective solution to ridding the home of a rat infestation, there are far more humane alternatives to a rat exterminator which are equally as effective and don’t require the inhumane treatment of these small animals. For the safety of your home as well as for the wellbeing of these rodents, it’s crucial to take a look at what the alternatives for a rat exterminator are. However, first learn about rat infestations in Houston and what you can do around your home to hopefully avoid an infestation in the first place.
Houston is home to many different types of rodent species, but not all of these species will cause problematic infestations in your home. In Houston, there are four common types of rodents that will generally make themselves at home in your residence - deer mice, house mice, roof rats and Norwegian rats. The infestations of each of these types of rodents will require rat or rodent removal. However, the use of a rat exterminator is not necessary to rid your home of these rodent infestations.
Identifying features of deer mice include dark fur on their backs with white fur on their undersides and legs. These mice measure 3 to 4 inches in length and are omnivores, eating plants, insects, seeds, nuts, animal matter, fruits and various other plant products. Deer mice are also known to participate in a behavior called coprophagy, or the act of eating their own feces. These rodents generally do not survive past one year when living in the wild, but in captivity can live up to 8 years. Shortly before the colder months, deer mice will begin to forage for food so that they can store it to eat during winter.
When living outdoors, deer mice are usually found under piles of rocks, tree holes or in hollow logs. However, if these rodents make their way into your home, they will prefer to take residence in warm, dark and undisturbed spaces including crawl spaces, basements or attics. If you’re dealing with an infestation of deer mice, you might find nests around the inside of your home or in your yard. Deer mice nests consist of weeds, paper, seeds and fur. Another sign of a deer mice infestation is bite and gnaw marks on objects in your home or droppings that look smooth with pointed ends. These mice can be effectively removed from your home using various methods that do not require the inhumane work of a rat exterminator.
House mice and deer mice are similar in appearance, however upon closer inspection, you will notice that these two types of mice are not the same. The adult house mouse is roughly the same size as the deer mouse with large ears, small eyes and a pointed nose. Unlike a deer mouse, the house mouse’s fur is generally a light grey or brown color that can sometimes be darker. Like deer mice, house mice are omnivorous and prefer to feed on seeds, fruits and grains, but will generally consume any available food source. A popular myth surrounding mice is that they are attracted to cheese. However, house mice prefer foods that are higher in carbohydrates and even sweets, including chocolate. House mice are also known to dig inside of trashcans in search of food.
It can be helpful to know where you will find the house mouse in your home when attempting to identify the type of infestation you’re facing. House mice prefer to spend their time indoors in secluded corners, cluttered garages, under cabinets, at the bases of kitchen appliances, the base of your water heater, storage boxes in closets and other areas of your home that generally remain dark and undisturbed. If shelter, water and food are readily available to a house mouse, they will multiply rapidly. For this reason, it’s important to seek a rat removal expert who specializes in the humane removal of rodents and not a rat exterminator.
Norwegian rats are large rodents that can measure up to 18 inches in length, including their tails. Their large and intimidating size can inspire some homeowners to hire a rat exterminator, but even with these larger rats, humane rat removal is the most viable option. These rodents generally have brown, grey or red shaggy fur, however, since the color of their fur often widely varies, they are hard to identify on color alone. Norwegian rats have tails and small ears that are covered in scales with thick bodies and blunt noses. Although Norwegian rats will dine on almost any available food source, their preferred meals consist of foods that are rich in carbohydrates and protein. This means that these rats might find a feast in your home’s garbage.
Norwegian rats can be found in any available ground space, including your yard. They tend to live in underground tunnels, but can also live in a structure like your home for their entire lives. On the hunt for food, Norwegian rats will enter your home at night and then return to their burrows. If you have Norwegian rats inside of your home, they generally prefer to live and nest in basements or crawl spaces and sometimes upper areas of the home, such as attics or ceilings. These rats can enter your home through holes or gaps as small as half an inch. They will commonly find entrance to your home through gaps under doors, holes from utility and plumbing lines or wall and foundation vents that are poorly fitted. Like other rodents, these rats require rat removal, but can be removed from the home using alternatives to a rat exterminator.
Smaller than Norwegian rats, roof rats, also known as ship rats, can measure up to 16 inches in length. These rats have a mixture of brown and black fur with a grey, black or white underside. Roof rats are long and thin with large eyes and ears and a long, thin scaly tail. Roof rats earned their name due to their tendency to find shelter in the upper areas of buildings and homes, including roofs and attics. These rats are generally nocturnal and search for food in groups of up to ten. When roof rats find a food source, they tend to return to the source, following the same route between nest and food each time. Roof rats possess great climbing skills which allows them to live in the upper parts of structures, including your home, but can also survive in ground environments, including under piles of wood and debris. As they search for shelter, roof rats will gain entry to a structure through any hole or opening that is bigger than a nickel. Roof rats will enter your sheds, garage or home by chewing through structural materials such as wood and drywall or by following pipes.
As with the other types of mice and rats, roof rats are omnivorous and will eat almost any available food source, with their preferred meals including seeds, fruits, nuts and berries. Roof rats will also dine on snails, slugs and insects and if near bodies of water, will eat fish and other water dwelling creatures. These rats will hoard food and prefer to eat in hidden environments, including your attic or the rafters of your roof. To protect your home from these infestations and the dangers they can pose to your family, it is important to find effective rat removal, including humane alternatives to a rat exterminator.
To avoid mistaking mice for rats, it’s important to note that young rats and mice have different proportions and features that can help you to differentiate between the two. Young rats will have heads that are disproportionately larger than their bodies with ears that are small relative to their heads. Mice on the other hand have small, triangular heads that proportionally match this size of their smaller bodies. A rat’s muzzle is large and wide whereas mice posses smaller, more pointed muzzles. Mice will also have larger ears in relation to their heads with rats possessing smaller, more proportionate ears. Young rats will have thick tails that are shorter than their bodies, while mice have thinner tails that are either the same length or longer than their small bodies. One last identifying feature that sets rats apart from mice is the size of their feet. Rats have large feet, and especially their hind feet, in relation to the size of their bodies. Alternatively, mice have feet that are much smaller and will generally better match their body proportions. Whether you are facing a rat or mouse infestation, it is crucial that you find treatment for the infestation immediately. Fortunately, with so many rat removal options available, you do not need to seek the help of a rat exterminator and can rely on more humane methods to rid your home of an infestation.
As mentioned, rodent infestations can not only cause damages to your home, but can also affect your family’s health and wellbeing. Due to this, it is important to seek rat removal upon detection of an infestation. However, the work of a rat exterminator is not required to get rid of these critters for good, as various other humane options are readily available.
Rats and mice are known to spread harmful diseases to humans where the risk of contracting these diseases becomes higher if faced with an infestation in your home. One potentially life-threatening disease spread from rodent to human is hantavirus. This disease is transmitted primarily through exposure to infected rodent saliva, droppings or urine. Salmonellosis, a type of food poisoning, is another way in which these rodents can affect your health. Salmonellosis is spread by rodent feces, with humans becoming infected by consuming contaminated food. These are just two of many potential health risks of rodents in your home and good reason for rat removal. But remember, there are better solutions to handling your infestation than to hire a rat exterminator.
Rats, mice and other rodents do have a helpful place in the world’s ecosystem. This is just one reason why it is important to avoid hiring a rat exterminator to kill the rats infesting your home. Rats and mice serve as a food source for a large number of animals in the wild, helping to maintain the earth’s food web. Plus, because of their preferred diet of seeds, rodents are also effective in spreading seedlings and dispersing plants across various landscapes. To turn to a rat exterminator to solve your infestation would be to deny our ecosystem of truly beneficial creatures that play an important role in the environment.
Luckily, there are effective alternatives to a rat exterminator which can help to control and eliminate your rodent infestation. One way to help prevent the need for rat removal is to safe guard your home against rodents by eliminating household habits and items which attract them.
There are a few ways to prevent rats from infesting your home. One of the biggest ways to prevent these infestations is by making sure you do not leave food scraps in your garbage cans overnight. Also, make sure that food products in your home are sealed and placed in areas that might be less accessible to a rodent, like your pantry. If you have pets, do not leave their food unattended overnight. Additionally, try to cut down on the amount of trash and clutter lying around your home and seal any holes in the floors or walls that rats might use as an entry point into your home. Lastly, inspect your home for leaking pipes or taps and check areas that may be particularly moist and warm like laundry rooms, garages or garden sheds.
If you’ve attempted to rat proof your home, but still find that you’re facing an infestation, Natran can help. Natran does not employ the inhumane procedures of a rat exterminator and instead uses humane methods to rid your home of a rodent infestation. Through two protection plans, EcoPlus and Natranized, Natran Green Pest control helps your family to monitor the presence of rodents in your home. This includes an in-depth rodent inspection which helps to identify rodent entry points and how to address any outstanding rodent problems. Contact Natran today for your rodent issues and instead of a rat exterminator, choose humane methods to control your infestation and protect your family and pets.