As one of the larger home pests, rats can be frightening to many homeowners. Larger than mice, rats have a keen sense of smell, touch and taste, but their vision is poor. They are active throughout the year and are mostly nocturnal.
Most rats feed on seeds or plants, although rats that live in urban areas have adapted their diet to include human food. Rats become dangerous when they infest human dwellings because, among other things, they contaminate food stores and spread disease.
Recognizing the Signs
Left unchecked, rats have been known to damage gardens and crops, spread bacteria and disease, and cause structural damage within homes. In these cases, knowing how to spot evidence of rats is critical. If you see any of these telltale signs, take action quickly:
- Droppings, which are often an indicator that a rat has established a nest nearby.
- Odors of urine, which produce a strong musky smell.
- Small holes gnawed in walls or doors, sometimes as small as a coin.
- Noises of scampering within walls, floors, or ceilings.
- Oily rub marks along walls, as well as gnaw marks and tooth marks.
- Nests in hard-to-reach locations, usually built with paper, string, and other small household materials.
- Unusual behavior from household pets, who will be on edge.
There are a variety of products on the market to help homeowners get rid of rats, but larger infestations almost always require professional extermination services. Even in the event of a single rat sighting, homeowners are advised to bring in an expert for an inspection.