Nobody wants to discover they have a rodent problem, but homeowners across the U.S. are dealing with rat infestations increasingly often. And you don’t have to live in a dirty or crowded area to wind up with rats.
Discovering rats in your house could mean other problems are on the horizon, from diseases to structural damage.
Signs You Have a Rat Problem
Rats look for places where they can find shelter and have access to a ready food supply. Unfortunately, this is the perfect description of just about every house. Your home is warm, dry, and comfortable, and your kitchen is full of enticing foods. To a rat, it’s just the right place to hunker down and raise a family. If rats move into your home, they won’t do so without giving signs of their presence. They leave behind visible evidence of their activity, including:
- Droppings: Rat droppings are dark, oblong, and tapered at either end. The size varies depending on the size of the rat, and you’ll usually find them clustered together rather than spread throughout the house.
- Rub marks: Greasy markings from rats’ fur indicate they’ve been making paths through the house.
- Chewing: Chew marks are evidence of rats gnawing their way through wood and other materials to make tunnels for easy travel.
- Nests: Collections of shredded insulation, cardboard, paper, and other soft materials are common, especially when rats are getting ready to reproduce.
You may also be able to hear rats squeaking, hissing, chattering, or scratching inside the walls or ceiling. Even if you can’t hear them, pets sometimes react to the smell and will paw at or become very interested in areas where rats are present.
Rats Often Carry Diseases
Disease is a major problem when it comes to rat infestations. Far from simply being annoying, rats have the potential to spread infections to people and other animals in the house. Some of these diseases can be serious or even deadly. The diseases rats carry and inflict can include:
Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS): Transmitted through urine, droppings, and saliva, the pathogens responsible for HPS can be inhaled in homes where rats are present. This disease can be deadly if contracted.
Murine Typhus: This form of typhus presents with flu-like symptoms, including chills, headache and fever. It’s more common if you’re bitten by fleas from infected rats.
Rotavirus: A digestive virus common in children, rotavirus may be spread from rats to people via rat droppings.
Leptospirosis: In this bacterial infection, symptoms may be similar to those of a nasty bout of the flu. Leptospirosis is one of the most common diseases transmitted from animals to humans and can result in meningitis, kidney damage, liver failure, or even death.
Where to Find the Best Rat Exterminator
Because a rat infestation is such an urgent issue, you want to deal with an exterminator you know is equipped to get the job done right the first time. Look online to find a list of pest control companies specializing in rodent control in your city and read reviews from other customers to rule out any with questionable practices or poor track records.
DIY vs. Professional Pest Control
Rats can get into your house just about anywhere and hide out in places you wouldn’t think to look. If you try to close off all potential points of entry yourself, it’s likely you’ll overlook or miss several spots. Professional exterminators can conduct much more thorough assessments and searches, and they know the best methods for keeping rats out.
Professionals are also trained in various methods of pest control and can suggest the best solution to deal with an infestation. Allowing them to handle the problem may seem like a significant investment, but you could wind up spending more trying multiple DIY methods in an attempt to find the right one.
A good exterminator should be able to get rid of any rats or rat infestation the first time they do their job. When you find an exterminator you trust, you can rest assured your home will be rat-free in no time.
Like anything, it’s always a good idea to be aware of the latest research. We recommend comparing at least 3 or 4 options before making a final decision. Doing a search online is typically the quickest, most thorough way to discover all the pros and cons you need to keep in mind.