What Are the Signs of a Rat Infestation?

a rat in a garden

A potential rat infestation is an unpleasant reality of being a homeowner. However, when you know the signs of rats, you can catch an infestation in its early stages.

For example, it’s important to know what rat droppings look like and how they differ from the droppings of other rodents. You should also know about their nests and the materials they use to form them. Understanding their habits and hiding spots will also help you identify the source of your rat infestation.

Next, it’s important to know about the diet of a rat so that you can take measures to keep them out of your kitchen and lawn. Additionally, there are simple ways to make your home inhospitable to rats that all homeowners should remember.

Finally, it’s valuable to know about the sleeping patterns of rats. Rats are hard to catch because they are active at night. This guide will tell you everything you need to know about spotting a rat infestation. It will also outline preventative measures to keep rats off your property.

If you suspect you have a rat problem, contact a rodent control specialist as soon as you can. An expert will deal with the problem in a timely manner and help safeguard your property from a future rat infestation.

Common Signs of a Rat Infestation

As nocturnal animals, rats sleep during the day and search for food at night. If you have a rat infestation in your home, the chances are that you will see their signs before you see a rodent. With that in mind, it’s helpful to be aware of the signs of a rat infestation so that you can control the problem as efficiently as possible.

The most common sign of a rat infestation is seeing rat droppings. You will see them in your kitchen near food spots, such as your pantry, cabinets or under your kitchen sink. However, rats can also leave droppings anywhere throughout their runway from their nest to their food source.

Rat droppings are oblong in shape and measure half of an inch to three-quarters of an inch in length. They are black and shiny, and they are bigger than mouse droppings.

Spotting Nesting Materials

Another common sign of a rat infestation is spotting their nesting materials. Rats carefully build their nests with fibrous materials. When they live in a home, that means they steal materials, like linens, plant matter, string and paper.

If you notice loose pieces of those materials in your home or attic, it’s likely because a rat used them to make its nest. To prevent this, keep all of your materials in metal containers that rats can’t chew through.

Noticing Chew Marks

Rats are avid chewers, especially when they are searching for food. That’s why seeing chew marks on food packaging is another common sign that you could have a rat problem.

However, rats don’t only chew to get to their food. They also do it to file down their incisor teeth, which is why you may see gnaw marks on your walls, ceilings, counters, cabinets and other areas. They also enjoy chewing on wires, so you may notice gnaw marks around your furnace or hot water heater.

Another reason rats chew is to create entry points into your home. They will chew small holes in your floors and walls that they can use to enter and exit parts of your home. You may also spot small grease marks around their holes or along the wall where they travel.

If certain areas of your home start to develop a stale smell, that could be a sign that you have a rat infestation. Finally, you can also identify a rodent infestation by its sound. If you listen carefully, you can hear them running through your walls and floors at night. A pet will hear them even better and may try to alert you by pawing or growling at the wall.

If you’ve noticed any of the above signs of rats, contact a rodent control specialist. Rat infestations are not easy to handle on your own, but a pest management professional can get these pests under control.

a rat eating a snack

What Do Rats Eat?

The reason why rats enter homes is to seek food and shelter. If they can’t find a reliable food source outdoors, they will try your home instead. Rats are selective with what types of food they like, but they will also resort to eating whatever they can get their hands on if they don’t have many options.

If rats had their way, their diets would consist mostly of grains, vegetables, fruits, seeds and nuts. However, as omnivores, they will also eat all types of meat such as fish, poultry and red meat. Rats will eat dog poop or even their own fecal matter as a last resort.

Rats are not picky about where they find their food. They will happily dig through your trash and compost bins. However, if you leave food out in your kitchen, they will return there over and over because they know they will find food there.

You can prevent rats from making a home in your kitchen by keeping your food properly stored in your refrigerator or in containers. Do not leave fruit out in a bowl on your counter. Rats can chew through paper boxes, so it’s also wise to store dry food in sturdier containers. Wash your dishes as soon as possible instead of leaving them in the sink overnight.

If you have pets, only put their food out at meal times instead of leaving it out all day. Keep a tight lid on your trash bin and compost bin so rats cannot get inside. You can also prevent rats from making a home in your kitchen by patching up any holes they’ve chewed in your walls and floors to eliminate their entry points.

Preventing Rats Outside

Even when they aren’t inside your home, rats on your property can become a nuisance. If you have an outdoor infestation, they can damage your garden and landscaping.

As much as possible, you should eliminate outdoor food and water sources while attempting to control a rat infestation. Do not leave out bird feeders or food for other animals.

If you have a compost heap, turn over fresh food scraps so rats can’t find them as easily. If you plant a vegetable garden, keeping it tidy can help deter rats from eating the fruits of your labor.

The more you make your house and property an inhospitable place for rats to live, the easier it is to keep a rat infestation from coming back. However, for the most effective results, consult with a pest control specialist. They can inspect your property, identify holes and guide you on the best plan of action to get rid of your rat problem.

a rat on a roof

Do Rats Sleep?

Rats sleep for about 15 hours a day. However, since they are nocturnal animals, they do all their sleeping during the day. They wake up around the time the sun goes down and then they start their food search.

Sleeping during the day and scavenging at night allows rats to stay out of sight of predators. It also makes it harder for humans to spot them when they live in homes. However, you will hear them scurrying through your walls at night. Once they find a food source in a home, they go back and forth from the source to their nest at night.

Rats go back to sleep around sunrise and start their routines over the next night. If you have indoor pets, nightly rat activity can cause them anxiety. They may try to hunt the rats at night.

If you hear the sound of rats running through your walls and ceilings at night, contact a rodent control specialist right away. Do not wait to see a rat to take action. A rat infestation is difficult to control on your own, but with professional help, you can ensure that rats stay away.

Get Rid of a Rat Infestation For Good

Rats are unpleasant and unwelcome house guests. They can cause property damage, spread diseases and stress out your pets. Remembering the signs of a rat infestation is the first way a homeowner can stay on guard. Periodically looking for rat droppings, loose nesting materials and grease spots is a good habit to start.

It’s also important for you to remember the habits of rats, such as their diets, chewing obsession and sleep patterns. The more you know about how they operate, the quicker you can catch a rat infestation before it becomes a major nuisance.

If you suspect you have a rat problem in your home or on your property, contact a rodent control specialist to inspect your home. With expert help, you can get rid of a rat infestation.

ABC Can Remove Rodents and Prevent Their Return

Managing a pest problem can be unnerving for many reasons. If rodents, wildlife or any other pest is giving you trouble, contact ABC Home & Commercial Services. Our highly-trained specialists can remove any unwelcome visitors on your property, so you can feel comfortable at home again. For further peace of mind, we can provide you with ongoing pest management to help you avoid future problems.

Russell Jenkins

Russell Jenkins is the Chief Communications Officer for ABC Home and Commercial Services in North Texas. Russell has been working as part of the ABC Family since he was 12 years old under the direction of his father, Owner Dennis Jenkins, and has since held several leadership roles at ABC. Russell holds a degree in Agricultural Leadership from Texas A&M University, and is a Food Safety Specialist. In his free time he enjoys spending time with his family and two children, playing tennis, and gaming.

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