Rats are a common household pest, known for settling into garages, attics, and the walls of homes and causing problems for homeowners, their children, and their pets. In addition to causing structural damage, rats can carry and spread diseases, making them a problem for any family. Unfortunately, a rat infestation can go on for long periods of time without the homeowner's knowledge. Thankfully, there are a number of ways to tell if you have rats in your home.
The most common complaint homeowners have during an infestation is the noise. Rats are largely nocturnal, so they are more likely to leave their hiding places in walls, foundations, or cabinets at night to search for food. Scraping, scratching, and squeaking sounds can be heard late at night. Even if you do not hear them, watch any cats or dogs you may have for signs of agitation, including a desire to go out late or scratching at unusual places in the wall. They may hear rats, even if you cannot.
Rats also leave physical signs around the property, the most common being feces. Rat feces will most likely appear where they are feeding, so you may find it in drawers, cabinets, or on counter tops. Rats may also damage cardboard boxes or containers which contain food. Any shredded cardboard, ripped box, or spilled food could be a sign of a serious rat infestation.
"Rat runs" may be present in your home if you have rats. A rat run is a path rats follow every time they leave their den, usually because it is a safe way to travel. A rat run outside your home will be indicated by unusual wear and tear on the grass or among house plants, and may indicate an entryway to your home. Check the foundation near any of these runs for entry points, including small cracks in the foundation. Rat runs can also occur inside, and will be indicated by changing patterns of dust or droppings near baseboards, house plants, or other suitable hiding spaces. If you notice rat runs in your home, especially near your kitchen, you are likely dealing with more than a few rats, as these paths are being used frequently enough for you to notice them.
Physical damage to your home, although unlikely if you have only a few rats, is also a good indicator they exist. As with the cardboard boxes food comes in, rats are also likely to chew through wood, insulation, electrical wires, and even caulking. They can be incredibly destructive to property.
Rats will gnaw at plastic or wood even if they do not intend to go through it, and so their tooth marks are a good indicator of an infestation. They will leave large, rough marks in surfaces. If you see these on cabinets or near baseboards, you are probably dealing with rats, especially if you have no pets at home.
If you experience one or more of these signs, or you see a living or dead rat, you may have a larger rat problem. Rats can be incredibly difficult to deal with, and can damage property and cause disease. The easiest way to contain rodents is to hire an exterminator who can help you determine the source and stop it in its tracks. For a free quote from an exterminator in your area, consider filling out the form today.