Since rats and mice are prolific breeders, it is important to handle an infestation as quickly as possible.
Rats and mice pose some of the biggest threats to home owners as they are known to gnaw on materials such as insulation, furniture, clothing, and wiring that can start electrical fires. In addition to this, they consume and contaminate food, which can spread several diseases.
If provoked, some of these pests have a tendency to bite as a means of protection. It is important to identify what type of rat has invaded your home, and develop a plan of action with your local exterminator and learn how to get rid of rats and mice.
Protect Your Home Through Prevention
Be sure to regularly inspect these signs of rodent infestation:
- Rodent droppings
- Chew marks on wood, food, or other structures
- Dirty rub marks or track throughout home
- Strange noises
- Nests in warm and dark places
There are several preventive steps in protecting against rodents such as:
- Blocking openings with wire mesh, or other materials to cover openings
- Repairing small crack and leaks in your home
- Clearing out any clutter in basements, garages, and attics
- Maintaining branches that hang close to your home
- Removing and properly storing all food, waste, and water sources
- Regularly cleaning and inspecting your home
Rats and mice are foragers and are notorious for being able to find any source of food. Even feeding pets indoors and properly cleaning food bowls daily will stop attracting rats.
Most rats can fit through holes the size of a quarter, and easily enter into living spaces. Following routine maintenance of your home is key in rodent prevention.
Trapping Rats and Mice
It is not ideal to use poisoned baits to trap rats as they may leave the original trap before they die, making it hard to find while releasing odors in your home. These poisons may also harm pets, children, or other wild animals.
If you feel you need to trap a rat in order to identify it, it is best to use a spring loaded trap. Place several of them throughout your home with dried fruit, peanut butter, or cheese.
Be sure to be weary of children and animals that may come across these traps.
After you have caught and identified the type of rat infestation, call an exterminator and properly clean any infected areas.
- Ventilate the area and any other enclosed areas for at least 30 minutes
- During this process, disinfect the area(s) with a general household cleaner and rubber gloves
- Use a mixture of 1 part bleach to 10 parts water and pour onto the affected area. Do not use a sprayer for this step
Your exterminator may recommend several other steps. Be sure to follow all of their recommendations. For recommendations, call (833) 431-0401.
Types of Rats
The most common rat pests in America are Norway rats and Roof rats. Both of these rats have very different behaviors and challenges.
Roof rats are typically found along coastal and southern regions. Norway rats can be found throughout the Midwest and northern regions of America.
Norway rats are referred to as sewer or street rats. Although they have poor vision and are colorblind, their other senses are incredibly keen. They have bristly brown fur with some black hairs in their coat.
These rats have small eyes, ears, and have shorter tails. They live between 2-4 years, but can produce 3-6 litters per year.
These types of rats are social. There are often several nests or burrows beside each other. Norway rats will nest in/by:
- Riverbanks and streams
- Under concrete slabs
- Along railroad embankments
Norway rats are nocturnal and will enter homes in fall when food and water sources become scarce. They are adaptable feeders and will eat anything from meat to fruit.
One study showed a rat’s stomach can contain over 4,000 different items. However, they show a preference for food high in protein. Norway rat’s bite marks begin rough then smooth, wear, and become greasy overtime.
If you cannot find any signs of bite marks in your home, check to see if there are droppings that have a “capsule” shape with a rounded end.
If you suspect you have a rat infestation, but aren’t sure of the species, contact your local exterminator.
These rats are known for spreading the bubonic plague and are referred to as black rats or ships rats.
These rats get their name through their ability to find shelter in higher parts of buildings. Although they are found all over the world, they prefer warmer climates.
Roof rats are long and thin with large eyes and ears with a pointed nose and scaly tails.
Roof rats have soft, smooth, brown fur with a lighter underbelly. Their tails are noticeably longer than their bodies, and can reproduce 40 times throughout their lifetime.
These rats can be particularly dangerous because they often carry fleas, infectious diseases via their waste, and are known to bite or chase when threatened.
Roof rats thrive in:
- Cool weather
- Under and around structures and piles of wood
- Sheltered and covered habitats
- Lush landscapes with dense vegetation and fruit trees
Roof rats are food hoarders, and will often store nuts and seeds in their nests. They forage in small groups, and will return to the same food source. These rats feed before dawn, and prefer to eat in sheltered and hidden spaces.
If you cannot find evidence of the rats themselves, be sure to look for droppings with a pointed end. Roof rat droppings are about half an inch long and are soft and moist when fresh, then harden as they dry.
If you’re still unsure about which species you’re dealing with, ask your local exterminator.
Is There a Mouse in Your House?
Although they are easily killed by predators like cats, mice can still carry diseases, chew through walls and wires, and each food and other materials in your home. Mice will usually eat 15-20 times a day, and therefore they like to nest near food sources.
Depending on the species of mouse, their size and color may change. Most mice only go to about 8 inches including their tail. Most mice die within 2 years or less due to predators. There are several different types of mice that can be throughout North America, and they are not region-specific like rats.
Although mice are small, they produce an ammonia-like or “musky” smell, and are quite noisy. Look out for these signs of mice infestation:
- Small, rice-sized droppings
- Black or brown urine stains, or “smears” on the floor
- Chewed and shredded materials
- Dirty smear marks along walls
Look for these signs in warm and cluttered places with easy access to foods like crawl spaces, cabinets, pantries, and utility closets.
Similarly to rats, it’s not recommended to bait mice. Because of their size, they are even more difficult to trap. Call one of Pest Brigade’s exterminator partners at (833) 431-0401 if you suspect you have a mouse infestation.