Wherever human beings live, you'll find rats because they have adapted so well to being around people. They may start out living in your yard, sheltered by bushes and shrubs. But they won't hesitate to move into your house if they need better shelter and have a food source. Since they can damage property and carry diseases into your home, at the first sign of rats, it's time to fight back.
Why You Have Rats
These rodents live in family groups near a food source. Outside, that could be easily accessible garbage cans, rubbish piles with rotting wood and leaves, compost heaps in your garden, and pet food dishes left outside. Rats are always looking for new sources of food and will move their families when they discover a better source.
Weather, easier food sources or predators can drive the rats into your house. They will live under porches, in attics and take up residence in the garage and behind drywall. You may never see these pests directly, but will spot their presence from the signs they leave behind.
Typical Signs That Rats Are In or Around Your Home
Rats leave raisin-sized droppings along the routes they use to get to food and back to their nest. Look for paths worn in the grass leading to your house. Sprinkle a little flour where you think there is a trail and look for tracks for the next couple of days.
Chew marks on cardboard, wood scraps, and loose papers are from rats collecting nesting materials. Other favorite nesting materials are clothing, rags, carpet pieces and stacks of newspapers or magazines. They will even chew on the paper covering drywall.
Getting Rid of These Rodent Pests
You'll need to take two approaches to make sure you get rid of these pests and prevent them from coming back:
- remove the incentives for them to stay in the house and yard
- remove individuals to make the family move out
Make Your Home Undesirable
Take Away the Food
- Put locks or straps on trash can lids to keep them closed.
- Keep areas clean around trash cans and dumpsters.
- Pick up uneaten pet food, both inside and out of the house.
- Protect bags of pet food from being chewed open.
Restrict Access to Living Areas
- Seal up openings from outside of the house into the attic, garage, and under porches and decks.
- Clean up any piles of trash, wood or yard debris in the yard.
- Remove old appliances, equipment or cars that may provide shelter to the rats.
Getting Rid of the Colony
- Set traps out along frequented paths.
- Reposition traps when resetting them, because rats learn.
- Keep traps out for several weeks until you no longer see signs of the rats.
Poisons and Pesticides
The use of chemicals is best left to a professional pest control company. They know how to find where the rats are located and how to set out the poisons to be effective. You don't want a rat to die behind a wall after being poisoned as they will create an odor as their body decomposes.
If you think you have signs of rats in your house or yard, contact a pest control company to identify all of the places where the rats may be living. It may take a few weeks to find and remove a rat colony. If you keep your home from being rat-friendly, you can be confident that you won't have these unwanted guests again.