Rats are common rodents in California that many homeowners have to contend with each year. Contrary to other rodents in our area such as mice, rats are large and highly destructive. Not only do rats get into food, but they also can chew through wires, causing power outages and electrical problems. When they find an entry point where they can gain access into your home, they’ll widen it by gnawing with their strong teeth. As they move about your home, rats urinate and leave behind especially large droppings. Mice are a big problem when it comes to infestations, but rats are arguably worse. They are incredibly smart and difficult to get rid of once they choose to call your home theirs.
What kinds of rats live in California?
Rodents of all kinds live across California. The most common type of rat that you’ll encounter in our area are Norway rats and roof rats. They are widespread across the United States, causing damage and creating unsanitary conditions wherever they go.
Norway rats are large rodents, measuring 7-9.5” long with brown and black fur. Their diet consists of fish, nuts, cereal grains, and meats. When Norway rats move indoors, they commonly nest on the lower levels but if the population is too large, they may be found in the attic and ceiling areas. Their nests are built from soft material like paper or grass chewed into small pieces they gather from surrounding areas. Did you know that Norway rats are excellent swimmers? According to Columbia University, migrating rats can swim up to half a mile and survive by treading water for 3 days.
Roof rats are the smaller of the two, measuring 6-8” long. They are brown and black with a long tail, large ears, and large eyes. Have you ever heard of ship rats or black rats? These are just nicknames for pesky roof rats. Roof rats get their name because they are especially good climbers, often found in spaces up high such as attics and drop ceilings, and cabinets. Their diet consists of a wide variety of foods including berries, nuts, slugs, and citrus.
How can I tell if I have rats?
Rats are nocturnal, with their peak activity at dusk or before dawn. When the population is large or they are disturbed or hungry, you can see activity during the day. If you see rats during the day, the infestation is very heavy and you should call AAI right away to handle the problem before it escalates.
Norway rats and roof rats will leave a hind foot track of about 3/4-1” where a mouse’s track measure’s 3/8” or less. Rats will also drag their tails, leaving a line-shaped mark between their feet tracks. Unscented baby powder or flour, lightly sprinkled can help you determine tracks and their runways as they cross suspected areas. They gnaw holes about 2” or more in diameter with rough edges to create entry points around your home and into trash cans. Rat burrows can be found along foundations, or beneath rubbish and shrubbery. If the burrow is active it usually clear of vegetation. Rat runways are smooth and well packed. Indoors, these runways are free of dust and dirt.
How do rats get into homes?
Rats will seek food outside, but many times will come inside at night to forage for food and return to their burrows. They can travel hundreds of feet which could mean that you are suffering from your neighbor’s rat issue. Needing a water source, they can obtain water from toilets, sinks, rain puddles, or condensation from utility pipes. Their nesting burrows on the outside are often along the foundation of walls. As the rat family grows, more burrows are built, resulting in a network of underground tunnels. Outdoors, rats scavenge for fruit from trees growing on your property, and even dog droppings.
Are rats dangerous?
Rats can gnaw through a wide variety of materials, including lead and aluminum sheeting, window screens, wood, rubber, vinyl, fiberglass, plastic, and sometimes even cheap concrete. They’re opportunists that’ll do whatever it takes to get into homes once they’ve set their sights. While indoors, rats urinate on documents, clothing, surfaces, and anywhere else they travel. Rats may bite or chase you if they feel threatened. Rat-bite fever is a major concern when it comes to rat scratches, bites, or consumption of food that has come into contact with rat droppings or urine. Symptoms of rat-bite fever include rashes on the hands and feed, sore throat, vomiting, fever, and muscle pain. If left untreated, rat-bite fever can cause serious health implications or even death. They prefer to gnaw on wood in spots such as doors, corners, and ledges, but can damage electrical wiring. Rats a frequent carriers of ticks and fleas. Fleas that fall off of the rodent can begin breeding within your carpet and cause problems for your pets. Rat infestations are not something that should be taken lightly. If you find rats or evidence of rat activity in your home, it’s time for professional rodent control.
How can I get rid of rats?
Trying to handle a rat infestation on your own will never go well. Rats are incredibly resilient and intelligent. There is no cure-all or store bough product that will kill the rats in your home with 100% effectiveness. The best way to get rid of rats is to prevent them from coming into your home in the first place.
Try these rat prevention tips at home today.
- Ensure that all of the cracks, crevices, gaps, or other vulnerabilities on the exterior of your home are properly sealed.
- Food that’s stored around your home in easily penetrable containers such as sugar and cereal should be moved to air tight containers. If you find contaminated food, discard it immediately and wash your hands.
- Make sure all leaky or broken pipes are repaired.
- Secure your trash can lids.
If you find rats or evidence of rat activity in your home or on your property, give us a call for an inspection.