Rats communicate and mark their territory by urinating everywhere they go, representing a significant public health risk. They can carry many nasty diseases, which can spread to humans, normally through rats’ urine or body coming into contact with food preparation areas.
Leptospirosis (often referred to as Weil’s disease)
Rats cause property damage
The problems associated with rats are not just limited to health. They also cause structural damage. Rats have to gnaw in order to keep their teeth in shape, and anything will do: brick, wood, glass, metal, bone. Rats will take on pretty much any object, which is why they can cause untold damage
Why you should remember rats are a real problem
Rats and business
Property owners have a legal obligation under the Prevention of Damage by Pests Act 1949 to keep premises rodent free, or, if rodents pose a threat to health or property, to report infestations to the local authority.
A company or organisation with a highly publicised rat problem may suffer irreparable damage to its reputation. A rat spotted running through a restaurant will no doubt make it onto social media faster than it can run. As well as reputational costs, there are also fines for businesses found to have a pest problem. These usually come at a significant expense and repeat offenders are in danger of facing legal action. Environmental Health Officers can issue enforcement notices to business owners who don’t have adequate pest management procedures in place.
Rats and houses
It goes without saying that rat infestations can have a devastating impact on personal wellbeing.
Aside from the health risks, the sound of them scuttling around the home, the evidence of their presence and the damage they can cause do little to help householders sleep easy.
Home for the rat is anywhere, domestic or business, they don’t care as long as it provides food, water and shelter. In buildings, they will live in roof spaces, wall cavities or under floorboards. In gardens, they will burrow into grassy banks or under sheds. Rat holes beside solid structures are sure signs of a nest. Rats are also often found living in sewer systems.
How to know that Rats are in residence
One of the most common signs that rats have paid a visit is their faeces, which are dark and pellet-shaped, and look like large grains of rice. These tend to be clustered in certain areas, as rats often use the same spot to do their business and can leave up to 40 droppings in one night.
Gnaw marks on electrical cables, woodwork, plastic, brick and lead pipes, as well as torn bags of foodstuff and materials, all suggest a rat infestation
Look out for footprints or tail prints In dusty, unused areas of a building.
Rats can also leave a more unusual calling card; a greasy residue professionals call ‘smear marks’. Smear marks occur from their coats rubbing on the walls as they make their way along these trails to their nest or in search of food
You may also be able to hear the rats scratching, gnawing and scuttling around. rats are prone to grinding their teeth and chattering when stressed, both very distinctive sounds. But correct identification is key, as these sounds can also be attributed to a squirrel infestation.
Rats go forth and multiply at a fearsome rate
When it comes to breeding, rats are amazing. If the situation is optimal, a female rat can reproduce every six weeks with litters consisting of 6-8 offspring.
Each part of the cycle takes 21 days on average. When a female rat is impregnated, the gestation period lasts for around 21 days.
Rats are mammals and so they give birth to live young called pups. It then takes 21 days to wean those pups. Rats can become pregnant very quickly after giving birth, which is one of the reasons that a rat infestation can grow quickly out of control.
Newborns can become sexually mature after only 5 weeks, at which point they can spawn their own broods. This means that a pair of rats could potentially produce as many as 200 babies and 2,000 descendants in just one year, maybe more.
A rat’s tail is often the part that makes most people squeamish but offers several functions.
It provides balance and stability when rats need to perform a physical task. And it regulates their body temperature, as it contains a rich blood supply close to the surface.
Due to their poor eyesight, rats rely heavily on their whiskers – believed to be as receptive as a human’s fingertips – to feel the world around them.
Rats may not have the best eyesight, but they have a well-developed sense of smell, taste and touch.
They also have an acute sense of hearing, frequently using ultrasound to communicate, which is especially sensitive to any sudden noise.
Rats are social animals, so if you see one rat then there are likely to be more nearby.
Rats have the ability to jump around three feet into the air, four feet horizontally and can fall from a height of up to 50 feet without getting injured.
They are also incredible climbers; brick walls, telephone poles, even legs!
What do rats eat?
As nocturnal mammals they will feed at night and can eat, on average, 50g of food a day. Cereal products a favourite, although rats are not fussy eaters and will consume pretty much anything – even other rodents and small animals.
Getting rid of rats
DIY rat control and why it’s maybe not ideal
Rats are hard-wired to survive. They are adaptable, highly mobile and breed rapidly so rat control can be hard to do effectively.
Remember most rats are wary of new objects such as traps or poisons placed in their environment. They will avoid them for a period before exploring them, so don’t expect instant success with this approach.
Thought needs to be taken when placing poison or traps to ensure they are in a safe and secure place out of reach of non target animals, children and pets.
When poison is consumed by a rat, it is likely that it will die in a cavity or roof space from which a bad smell can emit. If you cannot locate the dead rodent, it may take several weeks for the body to decompose and the smell to dissipate.
Leaving these in the open can result in secondary poisoning of non target animals, such as pets or birds scavenging on the carcass.
Professional pest control
We are trained in rat control and have access to a range of professional use rodenticides and tools, which are not available to the public.
Knowing how much, where, and when to deploy products is where professionals are able to take control of situations efficiently. There’s also a growing issue with resistance, due to incorrect choice of rodenticide or widespread use by members of the public.
Professional pest controllers will take an integrated pest management (IPM) approach to tackle the infestation.
A pest professional will have access to monitoring equipment, which they will use to confirm entry points into your property, the size of the infestation and to track the rat to its harbourage (nest).
They can then recommend a proofing strategy and decide on the best course of action in terms of control; this could be traps, rodenticides or a combination of both.