Signs of a Rat Infestation
If you already suspect that you have a rat infestation in your home, then you most probably do. You are just looking for a confirmation sign.
Pests like rats are capable of causing numerous troubles to homeowners in Australia. However, they are nocturnal creatures that prefer to avoid humans, so most often, you won’t encounter them. Instead, you will spot what they have left behind. We have prepared this guide to help you identify the signs of a rat presence and act quickly before the rat infestation has spread.
Signs of rat infestation
Are you troubled by a possible rat infestation in your home? Don’t worry – we are here to help. Here are the seven key signs that will help you identify a rat infestation:
When there’s a rat in the house, it’s more likely that you will hear it before you see it. Scratching noises are a ubiquitous sign of rodents, especially during the night. Black rats, for example, the most common species in Australia, are known to be excellent climbers, and they tend to lurk in attics.
Also, if you have pets in the house, they will probably know of the rat’s presence before you do. Dogs and cats have a more sensitive hearing than humans, and they are likely to hear the rat first and chase them around.
Another major sign of rats is their droppings. Rats can produce up to 40 droppings per night, and usually, you can find those in concentrated areas where they feed or nest.
Watch out for rat droppings near food storages such as pantries and cupboards, as wells as under sinks or in hidden corners. Keep in mind that rat droppings differ from mice ones. Rat droppings tend to be around 10-16mm long, dark brown or black, resembling large rice grains.
Gnawing is another visible sign that indicates a rat infestation. Rodents need to sharpen their teeth regularly, so wild rats do it by gnawing furniture, walls, cables or pipes when nesting in a property. Gnaw marks can also help you determine whether you are dealing with rats or mice. Larger marks mean larger teeth; therefore, you can expect that wild rats cause them.
While black rats tend to climb, brown rats are known to dig extensive burrow systems. They usually build them near solid objects or structures and use them as a shelter where they store food and nest. You can find burrows in gardens, garages, under decking or compost piles.
Rats are animals that nest. They use available soft items such as paper, different fabrics, dried plants, cardboard or any other shredder material they can find to build nests.
Those are usually located in warm and hidden places near the rodents’ food source. Therefore it is worth checking near your kitchen or behind and under appliances such as fridges, dishwashers and dryers. Rat nests can be also found in lofts, under eaves and in cavity walls.
Rub marks and footprints
Rats have very poor eyesight, so they use established routes. Due to this, grease and dirt from their bodies can leave dark marks or smudges over the surfaces they repeatedly pass by. Additionally, rats can leave footprints and tail marks on dusty areas. By using a flashlight at a low angle, you can reveal their tracks easily. To determine whether an infestation is active, sprinkle a thin layer of flour or baby powder on the floor near the prints and check for fresh marks on the next day.
Another sign that pets can detect before you do is the foul odour accompanying a rat infestation. Cats and dogs can become unusually active around areas where they haven’t shown much interest up until now.
This is because they will be can smell the rodents’ urine. In places without much ventilation, you will also be able to smell the distinctive musky scent. If you see your pet pawning around a specific area or you detect an unpleasant odour, you should examine the area and contact a pest control company.
Where do rats live?
Even though wild rats prefer to avoid humans, they like to nest in houses as they provide them shelter with easy access to food and water. If you suspect a rat infestation and want to check for signs of rats, here are the most common places where you can find these rodents both inside or outside your house.
Where do rats live inside the house?
- Lofts and attics - As black rats like to climb and live high above the ground, it is very common for them to be noticed in lofts and attic spaces. Watch out for chewed items, shredded installation, dropping in corners or inside items such as cupboards or cardboard boxes.
- Kitchens and laundry rooms - What better place for rats to choose than as close to food as possible? Kitchen cupboards and under or behind appliances are ideal shelter places for wild rats. Moreover, rats are drawn to the heat produced by dryers and washing machines. That is why you can also find them living in laundry rooms.
- Other places - Rats like to nest in the hidden corners of a house, hoping to avoid interaction with people and other animals. Convenient places for that can be cavity walls, crawlspaces, suspended ceilings and garages.
Where do rats live outside the house?
- Vegetation spaces - Rats often hide under bushes, in holes among roots or even on trees (in the case of a black rat). Pay attention to overgrown and dense vegetation in your yard that may turn into a home for rodents.
- Decks - Nests under decking are not uncommon. Check the edges of your deck for gnaw marks or ratholes nearby.
- Waste disposal areas - Wild rats are drawn to piles of rubbish and organic waste as it provides them food, shelter and warmth.
- Drains - Check for damaged drain covers or holes dug nearby. Rats often choose to live underground.
What to do if you have a rat infestation?
If you have already noticed the presence of rats in your home or office, don’t wait for it to get worse. Rats multiply rapidly, and just a few rats can quickly become a large infestation. Moreover, rats carry numerous diseases that can pose great danger to the health of your family or co-workers. Watch out for any of the above-mentioned signs, and remember that acting at the first sign is crucial. If in doubt, contact a pest control company.
Getting rid of rats yourself can be a nasty business. Avoid killing the animal when it is inside your home unless you want to be left with a smelly and very unpleasant problem. If the rat population is small, you might be able to control the infestation with traps and baits. However, if the population size is larger, you will need to contact professionals and let them solve the problem for you.