Pesteleminater Log

Rats: Control and prevention

rat on table

In many regions of the world, the acorn snail is regarded as an invasive species on par with the feared killer snail. This is because both of these snails feed on native species. Because it causes damage to vegetable gardens and other types of crops, it is classified as a pest. Both ornamental plants and crops can fall victim to its voracious appetite, particularly in the fall when population levels are forecasted to rise.

Rats as a pest

The ability of rats to carry infection, which can be transmitted through contact with the rat's urine or feces, is one of the primary factors that contribute to the widespread dislike of rats in modern society. Rats are not only responsible for the spread of disease and the contamination of food, but they are also responsible for causing significant damage to our sewage networks, buildings, and pipes, among other things.

The list of damages rats can make is very long, but for most people, the greatest concerns are going to be the spread of diseases and damage to property. Rats can carry diseases like leptospirosis, Weil’s disease, and Hantavirus.
Rat infestations in residential dwellings will usually cause damage to insulation, food storage, and electrical wiring. Even though it would appear foolish to chew on wiring, rats do not seem to care, and this can in extreme and unfortunate cases lead to damage like fires and electrical shorts. It is therefore vital to get rid of a rat infestation if one was to be present near you.

4 telltale signs of a rat infestation

Getting started on pest control quickly is vital in dealing with rats. Because of this, it is important to know how to identify a rat infestation. Even a single rat can reproduce rapidly, and the infestation can grow in numbers very quickly. If you want to know wether or not, you have rats in your house or on your property, you can look for these signs:

  1. Rat feces: They are a black-brown color and resemble rice grains. A rat will produce approximately forty droppings each day. The amount of feces can also be used to determine the size and magnitude of the rat infestation, if one is present.
  2. Weird noises: Scratching in the walls, attic, and basement at night are clear indications that either mice or rats are present. The reason for the noises mostly occurring at night is that rats are nocturnal (active at night). The brown rat is not the best climber, but its gnawing and running can be heard from a great distance, and it can be perceived as extremely annoying.
  3. Spread a fine powder: If you are uncertain about the presence of rats, try sprinkling out a fine powder like flour. If rats are indeed present, they will leave behind a visible trail in the powder, which can be observed and at least used to determine the presence of rodents.
  4. Look for scuffs and marks: When rats run along foot panels or other similar surfaces, they leave behind scuff marks that are caused by the grease and dirt in their fur.

Determining whether or not you have a rat infestation can be very difficult, and the signs of rat and mouse infestations are very similar. In most situations, you will be able to differentiate between the two rodents based on the size of the tracks left behind, and the magnitude of the damage caused. If you misidentify a rat infestation, and it turns out that you actually have a mouse infestation, you can read more about mice in our guide: Mice - Ultimate guide to pest control.

7 steps to prevent rat infestations

There is a great deal that can be done to protect one's home from being overrun by rats. To begin, the home should have all cracks, passages, and corridors sealed off to lessen the likelihood that rats will be able to move freely throughout the structure.

  1. If you can, cover any holes with metal mesh that has a mesh size of 5 millimeters and a wire thickness of 0.7 millimeters so that rats cannot chew through them. Rats are able to fit through holes that are 20 millimeters in diameter. You also have the option of using a rat and mouse sealant, which is something that is stuffed into cracks and holes.
  2. Reduce the height of the grass so that rats cannot hide in it, which will make them more susceptible to capture.
  3. Stay away from planting any bushes, trees, or plants that can climb near the front of the house. Rats can use things like hedges, firewood, and garden furniture against the front of the house to climb up the house, so you should avoid putting these things there.
  4. The timing of when birds and stray cats in the garden are given food should be coordinated to ensure that no food is wasted after dark.
  5. It is important to dispose of trash in containers that have lids that can be securely closed, and to avoid placing food waste in compost piles or gardens.
  6. It is not a good idea to keep seeds and onions in the basement, garage, or carport.
  7. The areas under balconies, conservatories, and other structures of a similar nature should be kept clean, and litter should be avoided as much as possible.

Prevent rats from coming inside your house

Rats can get into the house using one of the many holes that are present in most houses. One of the most common methods is that they climb up through water seals in the toilets after entering the building's sewage system.

The following are some of the ways a rat can enter the property:

  • Drains and toilets in basements and storage rooms are great ways for rats to enter the building. Cover drains with wire mesh, and make sure that the water seal in your toilets is filled properly. However, this is no guarantee, as rats can still make their way through a filled toilet water seal..
  • Clogged sewage pipes attract rats in great numbers, since the blockage can contain food for the rat. Don't pour products such as grease or oil down your drain, since this attracts rats, and will block your drain.
  • Unused or old drains and pipes can be used by rates to enter a building. Make sure to block or remove unused or old drains. Special rat sealant can be used to accomplish this. When it solidifies, it will create a hard surface, that has a soft layer underneath. This makes it difficult for the rats to gnaw through and makes it difficult for them to enter through the drain or pipe in question.

Depending on where you are located, the responsibility of dealing with rats may lie with the local authorities. It might also be the responsibility of local authorities to maintain and repair sewage and piping systems in the property in question (most rat infestations in towns and cities are caused by faults in the sewerage system).

Get rid of rats

Getting rid of rats is no easy task, and if you have difficulty succeeding, you might need to contact a professional pest control company. Fortunately, there are a great deal of products on the market, that can be used for rat control.

  1. Electric rat traps can be used to kill rats in a humane and effective way. Make use of bait such as smoked salmon, bacon, or even cat food. The diseased animal can effortlessly be removed from the trap after a successful catch, and thrown away without having to touch the animal.
  2. Automatic mechanical traps can be used for controlling a large infestation of rats, or rats that reside in a large area. These types of traps are powered by a CO2 cartridge and can catch up to 24 rats before needing to be refilled.
  3. Mechanical traps are used in large numbers and are dispersed across the entire property. These types of traps can be purchased with or without special bait, depending on your preference.
  4. Rat repellers can be used to scare rats away, without killing them. Repellers can either be used to discourage rats from entering specific rooms, or they can be used in conjunction with rat traps. It should be noted, that rat repellers will have a negative impact on rodent pets, as they can also hear the ultrasonic sound waves, that these repellers emit.
  5. Electromagnetic rat repellers emit electromagnetic waves through the electrical wiring of a building. This will discourage rats from chewing on wiring, and will in some cases drive them away from the property in question.
  6. Live-catch traps can be used to capture and release the animals without killing them. This will be considered the most humane option. It is important to note, that the rats should be released a far distance from any buildings, since they will otherwise just seek shelter in someone else's building, or even run back to the original location in question
  7. Rat poison can be used for effective and quick control, but it is often considered a less preferable technique. Rat poison inflicts a great deal of suffering on the rat, and it can easily enter the local ecosystem since the rat carcass will be eaten by local predators. As a side effect, these predators will also feel the effects of the rat poison, and they will, in most cases, also die as a consequence thereof. The rat might also die in an unreachable location, sometimes producing a foul smell.

No matter which method of extermination you choose to use, it is imperative to start as early as possible, preferably even before the infestation is discovered. Using preventative measures, such as sealing the building for entry, can save home- and property owners a great deal of pain and money.

Facts about rats

The majority of the time, rats get into a home through cracks or holes in the drains or vents leading to the drains. In addition, they can enter your home through the drains located in your kitchen, bathroom, toilet, utility room, etc., which is typically the result of water locks that are either missing or not functioning properly.

Rats are highly adaptable animals, both in terms of the environments in which they live and in the foods that they consume. There are more than 60 distinct species of rats in the world. When it comes to pests, it is typically the black rat (Rattus rattus) and the brown rat (Rattus norvegicus) that appear. The behavior of rats often means that they clash with humans, in contrast to the majority of other animals, because they frequently inhabit areas that are close to human habitation, such as landfills, sewers, barns, and cellars. They are also capable of becoming belligerent and attacking when they perceive themselves to be in danger.

Rats: Control and prevention 8


Rats come in a wide variety of colors, ranging from black through grey to brown. Pet rats and laboratory rats like the fancy rat (Rattus norvegicus domestica), also sometimes appear as white. Some species have even been bred to be hairless, although this is a somewhat rare occurrence. The back will have a dark brown-greyish color, while the stomach will be light-grey or greyish-white.

The black rat will be between 15-20 cm (6-8 inches), which a tail with a length of about 7 inches, while the brown rat will grow to a length of up to 45 cm (17 inches). They weigh between 200 and 700 grams, but some specimen of rats have been reported to weigh upwards of 1 kilogram. 

Just like mice and other rodents, rats have long, sharp front teeth, that they use to crack open food like nuts and the likes. The rat's upper lip is split, and its nose is sharply pointed. The rat has 16 teeth, all of which are root-open incisors that grow at a rate of one centimeter per month. Because of this rapid growth of the teeth, the rat needs to gnaw in order to grind keep the length of the teeth appropriate. If the teeth grow too long, the rat will starve to death because it will be unable to feed, and in extreme cases, the teeth will perforate the jaw of the rat. When trying to spot the difference between rats and mice, keep in mind that rats are much larger than most species of mice.

Behavior, lifestyle, and reproduction

In the wild, rats will typically subsist on plant-based foods such as seeds and nuts. Rats will eat anything, from cereal and fruit to earthworms and even other rats. They consume not only plant and animal products like humans do, but also inorganic products such as paper, plastic, and similar items. Animals with such a diet are called omnivores: they can eat anything, and they have even been known to bite pigs and humans while they are sleeping.

Opposite many other animals, like humans, rats lack sweat glands. They control their body temperature by increasing blood flow to hairless areas of their bodies, such as their tails.

In a typical litter, female rats will give birth to between seven and eight healthy pups, but they are capable of caring for upwards of twenty offspring. It's possible for a female rat to have a new litter every three to four weeks, but it all depends on how well she's been eating. Therefore, a single female rat has the potential to give birth to more than a hundred rat pups in a single year. After only two to four months, rats reach sexual maturity, at which point they will reproduce extremely rapidly. Should you be so unlucky, as to have a rat infection, it is therefore very important, to start controlling the population of rats very quickly.

Pesteleminater Log
Pesteleminator is a website that offers tips and information on pest control and prevention. We provide articles and infographics to help educate people on the best practices for keeping their properties free of pests, including insects and rodents. Whether you are dealing with an infestation or just want to take proactive steps to prevent pests, Pesteleminator has something for you.