Your home is your safe haven, a place for family and friends. A rat is an unwelcome, uninvited guest that will try its very best to make your home its Airbnb. Learn all the tricks a rat will try to pull to get inside. Be ready to stop rats in their tracks! Homeowners who understand the dangers of rat infestation can take proactive measures and prevent rats from ever getting inside their home. Learn how to protect your home with our Ultimate Guide to Rat Prevention:
Get To Know Your Enemy
Effective rat control requires knowing what you’re up against. Rats are not just dirty, annoying pests. They are, however, crafty, resourceful, and smart creatures. They are not to be underestimated!
Familiarize yourself with these key rat traits. Knowing more about how rats live and behave will help you get rid of them.
- Rats are nocturnal and have poor eyesight. However, they have a keen sense of smell, taste, and sound.
- Physically, rats are larger than mice, with coarser fur and noticeably bigger heads and feet.
- The most common residential rat species are the Roof rat which thrives in upper attic spaces, and the Norway rat, which inhabits low living spaces, like the basement.
Rat Habits & Lifestyle
- Rats are excellent diggers. They are known to burrow under buildings and fences.
- The average lifespan of a rat is 1- 1 ½ years.
- Rats crave warm spaces, which is why they are attracted to your attic.
- Although larger than mice, rats can maneuver easily throughout your living space. They can enter through a hole that is only ½ inch in diameter!
- Rats normally stay close to their nest, within 300 ft.
Beware: Dangers of Rats on Your Property
Rat prevention in homes is becoming a top priority for homeowners due to the dangerous diseases the nasty rodents carry. Besides being a health risk, they’ll wreak havoc on other parts of your property. The dangers of having rats in your home include:
- Damage to your attic insulation
- Damage to your storage
- The spread of disease, several of which can be fatal.
- Contaminated food storage and preparation areas.
- The risk of fires from chewed wires.
Rat urine and droppings can carry highly infectious diseases. The bacteria and germs that they leave behind can be spread in multiple ways. For example, if rats walk through urine-stained areas, they can track germs all around on the bottom of their grimy feet.
Bacteria can also be spread through rat and mouse droppings, and in some cases the bacteria can even become airborne!
Hantavirus is one to be especially wary of and is usually associated with rats in the attic. Rats excrete the virus in their urine, saliva, and droppings. Breathing contaminated dust after disturbing or cleaning rodent droppings or nests, can cause a person to contract Hantavirus. It is a very serious pulmonary disease and can be deadly.
Salmonella is another common issue with rat infested households. The bacteria, which can cause disease in humans and animals, is transmitted to humans by eating foods contaminated with rat and mice feces.
The CDC also warns about the dangers of rat lung disease, called Angiostrongylus cantonensis or rat lungworm, and rat bite fever. Rat lung disease prevention is very important. According to the CDC, Infected rats pass larvae of the parasite in their feces. Rat bite fever is typically contracted when people come into contact with rodents carrying the bacteria. Infection can happen through consumption of food or water contaminated with the urine and droppings of rodents carrying the bacteria. The best rat bite fever prevention and rat lung disease prevention method is to keep rodents out in the first place!
Take Control and Keep Rats Out
1. Seal all access and entry points
Whether you’ve got rats on the outside or inside of your property, you’ll never be rid of them until you secure the exterior of your home and keep them for good. Follow these steps carefully to prevent rat infestation.
Carefully evaluate the exterior of your home. Rodents enter attics through small, weather-worn holes or openings such as vents and chimney pipes. Bear in mind that rats can enter through a hole that is only ½ inch in diameter!
To effectively keep rats out, begin by walking the perimeter of your home. Inspect carefully, and find and seal any spots in your home’s outer walls that could be an entry point.
Rodents are crafty, intelligent, and determined creatures. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. They will take advantage of any weakness on your property.
Take precautions and guard your home by looking for any holes in your roofing. To do this, lift up damaged shingles and pry out the nails underneath. The damaged shingles will slide out. Underneath you’ll need to repair the hole in the roof, then replace the old shingles with new ones. You can use roof cement to securely reinforce the new nails.
Other repairs you may need to consider are vent covers and a chimney cap. If you have uncovered vents or chimneys you’re practically inviting rodents inside your house! This is a relatively easy fix, but it is important to use a cover made of wire, not mesh, to keep rodents out.
2. Maintain Landscaping
Rats can scale a tree and using long hanging branches to climb onto the roof! Trim back tree branches, keeping them 4 ft away from your home. This will effectively keep rats out of reach. Overgrown bushes, dead leaves, and other plant debris right up against the house can harbor rats as they scope out your property. Clear away any debris and keep bushes well manicured, leaving rats no place to hide.
Firewood stacked up against the side or back of the house offers another area of cover for rats trying to gain access to your home. Rats will nest in or under the woodpile and can survive on rainwater that collects there. Always keep your woodpile 20 feet away from your home.
3. Remove all sources of food
You can probably think of a few guests you’d rather not invite to dinner, but worse by far than a kooky aunt or an obnoxious cousin is the ultimate dinner party crasher – a kitchen rat! Rats scope out potential food sources when they look for a place to nest. Removing access to food scraps is one of the best rat prevention methods.
What Do Rats Love to Eat? Just like people, different rats have slightly different food preferences. The main types of rats that commonly find a way to sneak in and ravage a kitchen are the Roof rat and the Norway rat.
- Norway Rat: The Norway rat is large an in charge. Known for its thick tail and long body, this is the rat that’ll make you shriek. Despite the perception that rats are dirty dumpster divers, Norway rats actually are pretty healthy eaters if they have the choice. They love fresh fruit, fish, and meat. Leaving a fruit basket out on the counter would be a treat they couldn’t resist!
- Roof Rat: The Roof rat is the Norway rat’s smaller counterpart, and is so small that it is often mistaken for a mouse! Fresh veggies, seeds, and nuts are what this little rat loves to eat. Keep your salad out of reach! Surprisingly, their absolute favorite thing to eat is cat food. Your pet cat may be competing for its meal if the food bowl is easily accessible.
All rats love to eat any type of grains- cereal, granola, bread, you name it. They prefer it fresh but will eat it stale too. When it comes right down to it, rats are opportunistic feeders. They’ll gobble up whatever is readily available and their stomach can handle just about anything including tree bark, inspects, trash or compost. Rats can even be attracted to oils and other fats that may not have been thoroughly cleaned from counter tops, floors or appliances.
To keep rats away, keep food sealed in airtight containers. Rats have a sharp sense of smell, so while your sugar doesn’t smell incredible to you, a rat will sniff it right out! How can you eliminate odors that you can’t even smell? You can contain the scents within your pantry by using airtight containers to store your food. If you want to add an extra deterrent, you could even plant scents that rats find offensive like peppermint oil, or bay leaf, on a shelf inside.
Your favorite pantry food staples- like flour, sugar, rice, cereal, nuts, etc- normally come in easy-to-chew-through packaging. Rats can gnaw through cardboard and plastic bags in a heartbeat! You may have to put a little money in up-front to invest in quality airtight food storage containers for your pantry staples, but you’ll be saving big time in the long run.
Rats are very capable climbers and are also determined creatures. Where there’s a will, there’s a way! If food scraps are left out on the counter overnight, they’ll find a way to get them. Rats have even been known to gnaw into under-counter cabinets from the wall behind to access food. The only safe place to store food in the pantry or kitchen is on high shelves.
These proven rat prevention methods are most successful when you team up with professionals for a thorough consultation and plan of action. The team at Green Rat Control have been providing top-notch rodent proofing services for years. Prevent rat infestation before it ever becomes a problem!