Pest Library



May 11, 2013

Rats are some of the most troublesome and damaging rodents in households. They consume and contaminate food, damage structures and property, transmit parasites and diseases to other animals and humans. Rats live and thrive under a wide variety of climates & conditions and are often found in and around homes, other buildings, farms, gardens, and open fields.

Biology & Life Cycle

Rats, like house mice, are mostly active at night. They have poor eyesight, but they make
up for this with their keen sense of hearing, smell, taste, and touch. Rats constantly explore and learn about their environment, memorising the locations of pathways, obstacles, food and water, shelter, and other elements in their domain. Both Norway and roof rats may gain entry to structures by gnawing, climbing, jumping, or swimming through sewers and entering through the toilet or broken drains. While Norway rats are more powerful swimmers, roof rats are more agile and are better climbers. The Norway rat is larger and the more dominant species than roof rat. When the two species occupy the same building, Norway rats will dominate the basement and ground floors, with roof rats occupying the attic or second and third floors. Rats of either species, especially young rats, can squeeze beneath a door with only a 1.25cm gap. If the door is made of wood, the rat may gnaw to enlarge the gap, but this may not be necessary.

How to Spot Rat Infestations

Rats are active throughout the year, periodic checks need to be done for signs of their presence. Experience has shown that it is less time consuming to control rodents before their numbers get too high. Fewer traps and less bait will be required if early action is taken to control their numbers. Inspect your yard & home thoroughly and if the answer to any of these 14 questions is a yes, you may have a rat problem.

  1. Do you find rat droppings around dog or cat dishes or pet food storage containers?
  2. Have you found rat nests behind boxes or in drawers in the garage?
  3. Do you hear noises coming from the attic just after dusk?
  4. Are there smudge marks caused by the rats rubbing their fur against beams, rafters, pipes, and walls?
  5. Have you found remnants of rat nests when dismantling your firewood stack?
  6. Do you see burrows beneath your compost pile or beneath the garbage can?
  7. Does your dog or cat bring home dead rat carcasses?
  8. Are there rat or mouse droppings in your recycle bins?
  9. Is there evidence rodents are feeding on fruit/nuts that are in or falling from the trees in your yard?
  10. Have you ever had to remove a drowned rat from your swimming pool or hot tub?
  11. Do you see burrows among plants or damaged vegetables when working in the garden?
  12. Do you see evidence of something digging under your garden tool shed or doghouse?
  13. Do you see rats travelling along utility lines or on the tops of fences at dusk or soon after?
  14. Have you found rat nests behind boxes or in drawers in the garage?

Damage Caused By Rats

Rats consume and contaminate foodstuffs and animal feed. They also damage containers and packaging materials in which foods and feed are stored. Rats cause problems by gnawing on electrical wires and wooden structures (doors, ledges, in corners, and in wall material) and tearing up insulation in walls and ceilings for nesting. Norway rats may undermine building foundations and slabs with their burrowing activities. They may also gnaw on all types of materials, including soft metals such as
copper and lead as well as plastic and wood. If roof rats are living in the attic of a residence, they can cause considerable damage with their gnawing and nest-building activities. They also damage garden crops and ornamental plantings. Diseases rats may transmit to humans or livestock are murine typhus, leptospirosis, trichinosis, salmonellosis (food poisoning), and rat bite fever.

Control Methods

Three elements are necessary for a successful rat management program:

Sanitation Sanitation is fundamental to rat control and must be continuous. If sanitation measures are not properly maintained, the benefits of other measures will be lost, and rats will quickly return.

  • Good housekeeping in and around buildings
  • Neat, off-the-ground storage of pipes, lumber, firewood, crates, boxes, etc
  • Garbage, trash, and garden debris should be collected frequently, and all garbage receptacles should have tight-fitting covers
Building Construction & Rodent Proofing The most successful and long lasting form of rat control in buildings is to “build them out.”

  • Seal cracks and openings in building foundations, and any openings for water pipes, electric wires, sewer pipes, drain spouts, and vents
  • No hole larger than 6mm should be left unsealed to exclude both rats and house mice
  • Make sure doors, windows, and screens fit tightly
  • Ensure that all roof access points I are sealed
Population Control When food, water, and shelter are available, rat populations can reproduce and grow quickly.

While the most permanent form of control is to limit food, water, shelter, and access to buildings, direct population control is often necessary.

Common control methods include:

  • Glue boards
  • Live traps
  • Toxic bait
  • Tempered Rat Bait Station (TRBS)

Rat Population Management

Glue Boards

One of the alternatives to a snap trap is a glue board. Glue boards work on the same principle as flypaper; when a rat or mouse attempts to cross the glue board, the rodent gets stuck and is trapped.

Live Traps

Live traps are not recommended because trapped rats must either be killed or released elsewhere. Releasing rats outdoors is not recommended because of health concerns to people, pets, and other domestic animals.

Toxic Bait

Ridpest uses toxicant rat baits. Upon consuming the bait rodents will die within 4 – 10 days as a result of internal bleeding. 3 blocks of rat bait is placed by our specialists under or behind
furniture or inside a cupboard; out of the sight of infants or pets

Tempered Rat Bait Station (TRBS)

A TRBS is made of PVC and includes a secure locking mechanism. At least 3 blocks of rat bait is placed inside each station. Bait levels are monitored and replacements are made regularly.
These enclosures protect the bait from weather and restrict accessibility to rodents as safeguard for people, pets, and other animals.

If you have a problem with rats contact us to get a FREE quote!

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