At one time, rats helped propagate one of the most serious epidemics in the world’s history; the Bubonic plague. Although not as dangerous in the modern age – thanks to scientific evolution – they still remain a pain when they invade people’s homes.
When they invade your house, rats will gnaw at virtually anything within their reach causing damage to walls, electric cables, clothing, and furniture upholstery among other things. All this damage could cost a tidy sum to fix.
In addition to the damage they cause with their destructive feeding habits, rats will also pose a health risk to your family by contaminating food and spreading diseases through their excretes or through bites. These pests could also introduce other “secondary” pests such as ticks and fleas into your house further adding to your woes.
How to identify a rat infestation
Rats are nocturnal creatures which makes them pretty hard to catch sight of during the day. There are a couple of signs, however, that you can look out for to identify an infestation:
- Droppings. Rat poop is dark brown and spindle-like in shape. It’s about 9-14mm in size and looks like a large grain of rice. A rat can produce about 40 droppings in one day.
- Scratching noises. If you hear scratching noises in your loft or between walls, it could indicate a rat problem.
- Running tracks and footprints. Look for running tracks and footprints along the edge of your floor near the walls, especially in less accessed areas of the house.
- Rub marks. This will appear along walls and skirting boards. Rats use walls to get around because they have very poor sight.
- Damaged items. Check for gnaw marks on plastic and wood items. Chewed cabling and ripped food packaging are also indicators of a rat problem.
- Nests. Rat nests are usually located in warm hidden spots and are made of shredded materials such as fabrics and paper. Check under and behind appliances such as freezers, fridges, and stoves for nests.
How to prevent a rat infestation
There are several measures you can take to prevent a rat problem. These include:
- Eliminating food and water sources. You can do this by: keeping your trash in covered garbage cans, cleaning your house regularly, doing your dishes (ideally immediately you are done using them), clearing out pet food when they are done eating, keeping food in sealed containers made of metal or glass, and fixing leaky plumbing.
- Sealing potential rat entry points such as holes inside and outside your house.
- Removing clutter from your house as this provides good places for rats to build their nests.
How to get rid of rats
If rats have already invaded your home, you can get rid of them using the following methods:
- Traps. Rat traps are one of the oldest methods of controlling rats. We recommend using live traps that don’t kill the rat, hence humane. Set the traps near rat nests and along their travel paths. Make sure to check the traps regularly so that you can release the rat outside before it dies and starts decomposing – which will produce a foul smell.
- Poisoning. This is not a recommendable method for home rat control as it is pretty inhumane and could also affect other untargeted animals such as pets. Poisoned rats could also die in hard to reach places causing odour problems in the house.
- Electronic repellers. These are electronic gadgets that use a combination of ultrasonic and ionic technologies to repel rats from your home. The emissions from these devices are not noticeable to humans but are very irritating to rats which forces them out of your home.