During the colder months, some animals have developed adaptation strategies to survive. Monarch butterflies fly thousands of miles to spend winters in Mexico. Since food is harder to find, squirrels uncover acorns in winter that they buried during the warmer months. We often see geese fly overhead on their way south when it’s colder out. But what about rats?
Do Rats Hibernate During Winter?
As terrified—and repulsed—as you may be when you see a rat during colder months, you can’t help but wonder: “Why am I seeing rats in winter? Don’t they hibernate?” While it’s easy to assume that rats do hibernate, as many pests and outdoor animals do, rodents actually don’t become less active during the colder months. In fact, rats use lower temperatures as an excuse to seek shelter, food and warmth in the place they are not welcome: in our homes.
To learn more about a rat’s winter habits and survival techniques, read below. We’ll also tell you how to get—and keep—these furry creatures out.
Rats Seek Shelter and Warmth In Our Homes
We often think that rats hibernate in winter months because they’re less active. These animals slow down their breeding to look for areas that will provide both warmth and food in either wilderness or domestic environments.
Rats that live outside of human-occupied areas find shelter in caves, burrowing dens, trees and woodpiles. To prepare for the winter months, rats collect food during warmer months and store their collection where they’ll be for the winter.
For rats living in cities and towns, though, they typically find shelter and food inside homes and other insulated spaces. Where do rats sleep during the day? Common places rats can live, breed and sleep inside of your home include basements, attics, backyard sheds and sometimes inside the structure of your homes. Because they can squeeze through a space that’s just 0.6 inches in diameter, any crack or crevice can easily let them inside.
Rats Can Do Harm
The sight of a rat in your home is enough to want it out. But, in reality, rats cause more harm than just an unpleasant sight, as many carry diseases. Some rats in southern parts of the United States, like the cotton rat, can carry the Hantavirus. Individuals exposed to this virus can acquire hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS), which can cause difficulty breathing and sometimes death.
Less severe impairments include structural damages to your home, which can occur when rats gnaw on wood and other parts of your home’s foundation for food. And because they do come into your home seeking food, they’ll also contaminate any food you have in non-refrigerated spaces, like your pantry. Be sure to take note of any holes or chewing marks you see, as it’s an easy way to notice the onset of an infestation.
Signs of a Rat Infestation
Most signs of a rat infestation are easy to spot. Check your pantry for any signs of chewing or damage to cardboard boxes. Think cereal, pastas and snack boxes. Rats can also chew through electrical cables and wires, so be sure to check any exposed cables for signs of damage. Keep an eye out for rat droppings, too. You’ll typically find those along baseboards and hidden areas like cabinets.
How to Prevent Rats From Entering Your Home
As we already mentioned, rats can squeeze through an incredibly small space. So be sure to inspect the exterior of your home for any cracks, holes or gaps that can offer an easy entryway. Be sure to keep attics and basements clean year round and keep trash and garbage bags tightly covered and as far away from your home’s entrance as possible.
Finally, keep your kitchen clean. Rats enter your home in search of food, so eliminating potential food sources is key. Remove cardboard boxes and store food in airtight containers, and be sure to pick up any crumbs or leftovers that might be laying on the countertops.
To Eliminate Rats, Call the Pros
You can practice prevention techniques at home, but to eliminate rats properly, it’s best to call in the professionals. ABC Home & Commercial Services can determine the extent and type of rodent problem in your home and create a customized plan to get rid of rodents in and around your home. We’ll give you a better understand of how to prevent future infestations and take steps to ensure rats no longer consider your home a haven during winter and throughout the year.