Rats Overview

Homeowners in the U.S. face the threat of three different kinds of rats becoming unwelcome house guests. There are several types of rats that can get into your home. Norway rats are the most common rat and can be found across the U.S. But roof rats and pack rats also want to make themselves comfortable in your home.

Why are these critters trying to sneak into your home? Close proximity to humans usually means access to food, water sources, and safe harborage.

Beyond the uncomfortably thought of rats in your walls, there are plenty of reasons to get rid of a rat infestation. Rats can create significant damage within your home. Since they tear up insulation and chew on electric wires, these creatures present a big threat to your property. In addition to the physical damage, they bring ectoparasites and diseases into your home.

Rats are a common pest. Although they may be numerous, that doesn’t mean you’ll easily spot them. Rats are wary creatures and avoid human contact.

But even if you can’t spot a rat, there are other signs you can look for to confirm your hunch. The first thing you’ll likely notice is unfamiliar sounds in your home. Rats communicate through squeaking, hissing, and chattering sounds. But you might also hear gnawing and rustling within your home.

After you hear them, you might start noticing other bits of physical evidence of a rat infestation such as:

  • Droppings
  • Gnaw marks
  • Rat tracks
  • Nests
  • Smudge marks on beams or walls

If you aren’t sure what kind of critter you have on your hands, it’s best to call in professional help. Rats can be relatively elusive to spot. But professionals can quickly spot the signs that can confirm the presence of a rat.

Rats Diet

Rats are omnivorous creatures known for their adaptability and wide-ranging diet. In the wild, their diet primarily consists of grains, seeds, fruits, and nuts, but they don’t stop there. They’re opportunistic feeders, meaning they’ll consume almost anything available to them, including plants, insects, and even small animals if necessary. This flexibility in diet is one of the reasons why rats are such successful survivors in various environments, from forests to urban areas.

Domestic rats, on the other hand, benefit from a more controlled diet tailored to their nutritional needs. A well-balanced diet for pet rats includes commercially available rat pellets, which are formulated to provide all the necessary nutrients. Additionally, pet owners can supplement these pellets with a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, like apples, carrots, and leafy greens, ensuring they avoid harmful foods like chocolate, caffeine, and onion. Providing a mix of these foods not only meets their nutritional requirements but also enriches their environment and promotes natural foraging behavior.

Rats Scat

Rat droppings are distinctive markers of their presence and can provide clues to their activities. These droppings are typically dark brown, elongated pellets, about 1/2 to 3/4 inch in length, with pointed ends, resembling a large grain of rice. Fresh rat feces tend to be soft and moist, whereas older droppings will appear dry and hard. The quantity and location of the droppings can help identify high-traffic areas or nests. Rats produce a considerable amount of droppings, so finding these in groups or along paths (usually close to walls or sheltered areas) is a strong indicator of an active rat population. Identifying rat scat is crucial for pest control, as it helps in determining the scale of infestation and planning effective extermination strategies.

Rats Tracks

Rat pawprints are distinctive and can be easily distinguished by their size and pattern. A typical rat pawprint features four toes in the front prints and five in the hind prints, a reflection of their anatomical structure. The front prints are smaller, often around 1 to 2 cm in length, while the hind prints are slightly larger, reflecting the rat’s walking gait. The presence of tail marks may accompany these prints, as rats often drag their tails, leaving a telltale sign of their passage.

The spacing and arrangement of rat pawprints can also help in their identification; the prints are usually found in a straight line due to the rat’s methodical, direct movements. This linear pattern distinguishes rat tracks from those of other small mammals, which might display a more staggered or less organized pattern. By examining the size, shape, and arrangement of pawprints, one can identify the presence of rats with reasonable accuracy, providing valuable information for tracking or pest control efforts.


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