Do you have rats in your home? For most people, the very thought of rats in the attic or running through your kitchen is enough to cause nightmares.
The good news is that when you learn more about rat behavior and what attracts rats to your home, it’s easier to decide what to do next. Below we’ll look at the rats we have in central Texas, where rats hide, and how to get them out of your home – for good.
Rats in Texas
In Bryan-College Station, the main rat species that we see around town is the roof rat (Rattus rattus). Roof rats generally are brown or black in color and are smaller than the Norway rats found throughout most of the rest of the United States.
Roof rats choose nesting spots in trees, bushes, wood piles, and in our homes. They love palm trees and other high nesting locations where there are fewer predators, including coyotes, cats, and dogs. They are expert climbers and can scale a multi-story home with ease. They can also fall several stories without injury.
Because of the roof rat’s preference for living in trees rather than burrows, they do better in warmer climates than the Norway rat. In the warm months, they tend to live close to food sources in barns, farms, orchards, and ponds. In the winter they seek out warm and cozy habitats, including our storage sheds and homes.
Roof rats will eat nearly anything, including bugs, seeds, worms, nuts, green plant growth, and vegetables and fruits right out of the garden. They can’t resist easy food sources like chicken coops, pet food, and bird feeders.
Despite their size, adult roof rats can squeeze through holes no larger than a quarter. Young rats can get through even tinier holes. They tend to gather together to protect each other and travel in packs.
Getting Rid of Rats in the Home
The best way to deal with rats is prevention. Reduce food sources (bird feeders, outdoor pet food) and remove trash piles, wood, or brush piles. Inspect your roof and siding, as well as any crawl spaces under the house for possible access points.
To remove rats, we recommend using either live traps (and relocating the rats outdoors away from your property) or electronic traps that kill immediately with a jolt of electricity. These options are environmentally safe and ensure that the animal doesn’t suffer.
Other forms of rat eradication have significant downsides. Rat poison is problematic because it kills indiscriminately, meaning other animals may also be poisoned (as well as any animal that catches and kills a poisoned rat). Furthermore, when you set out poison, you cannot control where the rat dies, and removing the dead carcass can be difficult and unpleasant. Glue traps and snap traps can be effective, but are inhumane, often causing the creatures to suffer for days before they die.
According to experts at Texas A&M, the best solution to dealing with roof rats is prevention, but when that’s not possible, remove them and then block up their access points so they can’t return.
Rats Pose Many Challenges
Rats have shared environments with humans throughout history. Some of the reasons we can’t ever seem to get rid of rats include:
Rats are great swimmers. They can swim up to a half mile and can tread water for a long time. Scientists have shown that rats are such good swimmers that it’s no chore at all for them to climb the plumbing in your home and into the toilet.
Roof rats can climb brick walls and wood shingles, telephone poles and trees, and can run across power lines. They can fall up to 50 feet without injury.
Rats only live about a year, but can have so many offspring in that time that a single mating pair could have hundreds of descendants in just a couple of years.
They are smart, and can sense poison, even in very small quantities. They also remember routes to shelter and food, though they are averse to changes in their environment or disruptions to their nests.
With all of these traits, finding ways to remove them once and for all can be quite difficult.
When to Call the Experts
There’s no shame in seeking help with a rat infestation, which can happen no matter where you live or how clean you keep your home. For many people, one rat is enough to call out the experts.
When you need help dealing with rats in or around your home, contact ABC Home & Commercial Services. We will send out experts to inspect your home and property and determine safe and effective ways to remove rats once and for all.