Pest Control

7 Signs You NEED A Rat Exterminator

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Hubert Miles

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Rats are a pest that can affect any homeowner or farmer. They carry an extensive list of diseases that rats can easily transmit to humans and pets. Not only this, but they can cause significant damage to your property. Nobody wants to share their home with rats. But the question remains when do I know I need to call an exterminator?

Firstly calling an exterminator should normally be the first thing you should do. The simple fact is rats are not only very stealthy, but their reproductive process is VERY rapid. Female rats can start reproducing as early as 3 months old and have a litter of 8 to 9 pups.

With this in mind, there is a chance that you can see the damage or the signs of rats and deal with the issue yourself, while a professional will be able to track the rats and find the most effective form of euthanization. Thus giving you the best chance of becoming rat-free. 

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Although you can take steps and procedures to handle a small rat infestation yourself of maybe 3 rats, anything more than that, you are at a loss. Below are the signs to look for so you know when it is too late to kill the rats yourself and when it is time to call an exterminator.

Why You Should Call An Exterminator?

When it comes to rats, their reproductive process is rapid. As explained above, females can start bearing young at a very young age and have up to 9 pups in a normal litter. In 3 months, the females from that litter can have their first young while the mother could have had at least another litter before. As you can see, their number can easily multiply and get out of your control very quickly. 

Not only that, but there is an extensive list of diseases that rats can carry and transmit to you, your family, and your pets with relative ease. Below is a list of some of these diseases that can be maintained and transmitted by rats.

  • Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome
  • Hemorrhagic Fever with Renal Syndrome
  • Lassa Fever
  • Leptospirosis
  • Lymphocytic Chorio-meningitis (LCM)
  • Omsk Hemorrhagic Fever
  • Bubonic Plague
  • Rat-Bite Fever
  • Salmonellosis
  • South American Arenaviruses (Argentine hemorrhagic fever, Bolivian hemorrhagic fever, Sabiá-associated hemorrhagic fever, Venezuelan hemorrhagic fever)
  • Tularemia

Any of these diseases can harm someone’s health if infected. These 2 reasons are the most predominant when it comes to extermination and why you should call an exterminator at just the first sign of rat activity.

Signs I NEED a Rat Exterminator

There are tons of signs that can lead to the detection of any pest. Rats are no exception to this. The signs you see to call an exterminator are the same signs that they look for to determine the severity of the rat infections.

Not only this, but the signs we will be listed below will also allow the exterminator to determine their general living location and their primary food and water sources. Determining these sources is key in knowing what to clean up to make it harder for them to survive.

1. Smudges

Because rats are bigger than mice, their motions are more obvious. Natural oils on the fur of these rodents create traces on the walls and other surfaces they pass through. Because rats are creatures of habit, the smudges on the walls will darken over time as they frequently go along the same paths.

These smudge markings are most commonly found on walls or moldings near the floor and in hidden spots such as behind furniture. They may also be found near the attic or in the basement, where there is less human traffic.

As a property owner, the smudges may appear intrusive and disgusting, yet they may benefit from rat traps and poison placement. The smudges indicate the locations with the most rat activity, making poison or traps more effective.

2. Footprints

Rats are large enough pests to leave traces of their presence. Footprints are not visible in clean locations. On the other hand, rats prefer to congregate in regions with few humans; thus, the floors may be dusty.

You can be convinced you are the host of one or more rats if you enter a basement storage area and notice tiny paw prints and giant swoops in the dust (from the drag of a rat’s tail).

3. Droppings and Urine

Rodent droppings are perhaps one of the most disgusting symptoms of rat activity that a homeowner might detect. Rat droppings are more significant than mouse droppings, but they have a similar appearance: dark brown or black, with a rice grain-like form.

Droppings are harmful to health and should be cleaned up, but until the rats are removed from your house, more will appear.

Urine odor is another comparable indicator. This odor is usually associated with larger rat infestations, so you’d likely notice the problem before smelling it. However, like rat droppings, rat urine is harmful to people and can cause illnesses and disorders. Although many rats do not carry disease, there is no way to determine if a rat in your house is safe to handle.

Contact a pest control professional if you are worried about cleaning areas where rats have been. The pest control professionals can give you more insight into properly disinfecting areas that rats might have disturbed.

4. Noises

The sounds their paws produce might be an early clue of rat activity. Rats like to travel between drywall sheets, in the attic, under the flooring, or through ventilation. They do not move silently, and the noise is audible, especially at night when the rats are more active and the home is quiet.

5. Nests

Rats look for warm, dry areas to create nests for their young. Fabric remnants, shredded paper, and cardboard are used to construct nests. They like to keep their nests secret because they don’t want them disturbed. Rat nests thrive in crawlspaces, the area between your walls, and even utility closets.

Rats often nest outside and, if they can, make visits inside for items like food. A nest might be found in these areas:

  • Underneath your porch.
  • In a four-season or three-season room.
  • In your garage.
  • A garden shed.

Rats will find it challenging to nest in your house if you make it difficult for them to do so. Do not keep furniture in your garage or deck, especially during winter. During the cold months, clean the porch furniture to prevent rats from nesting in the cushions.

If you come into a rat nest, don’t disrupt it since it may be dangerous to your health if you don’t have the proper tools. Instead, contact a pest control company to take care of the problem. They will be able to estimate the severity of the rat problem more accurately.

6. Chew Marks

Rats, like other rodents, have never-ending developing teeth. They are forced to chew to slow down their development. You may see signs of this chewing all over your house. They nibble on the wire inside the walls but use their teeth to get food, which is their most fundamental requirement.

Rat participation is shown by holes in plastic goods, cardboard boxes, and paper bags. Rats are slightly better capable of breaking through resistant exteriors than mice, such as the plastic of a water bottle or the tetra pack of a chicken soup container.

Start keeping other food in lidded containers if you have a rat problem. You should not store crackers, cereal, and other dry goods in cardboard boxes. To keep rats from lingering around, you should block their access to food.

7. Actually Seeing Rats

When it comes to knowing you have rats, there is no better evidence than actually seeing them. Like any other kind of infestation, once overcrowding becomes an issue, there is little the infesting pests can do to remain hidden. After a time, the rats will need to come out to feed; when that happens at inopportune times, the homeowners usually discover them. 

Remember areas where you have seen rats running around your home. When you call a professional exterminator, that information will be useful to them. Knowing common routes taken by said rats are a great place to set traps.

Final Thoughts

Considering everything that has been said, it is a no-brainer that rats are a terrible vermin to have invaded your property. Whether it be 1 or 2 or a whole colony of rats, if the problem is left to persist enough, hopefully, with the list of signs listed above, you will be able to accurately determine when it is time to call for a professional exterminator.

Do You Need Pest Control Service?

Get FREE quotes from licensed pest control technicians in your area today. Whether you need spraying for ants, roaches, spiders, ticks, mosquitos, or bed bugs, We Can Help! All technicians are screened, licensed, and insured.

Get a FREE Quote Today
We earn a commission if you purchase at no additional cost to you.
Photo of author

Hubert Miles

I've been conducting professional home inspections since 2002. I'm a licensed Home Inspector, Certified Professional Inspector (CPI), Certified Master Inspector (CMI), and FHA 203k Consultant. I started to help people better understand the home inspection process and answer questions about homeownership and home maintenance.
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