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8 Steps to Take to Keep Rats Away and Out of Your House

a rat eating food off of a plate

Rodents, particularly rats, are closely linked to humans. That's because people and their dwellings provide them with the things they need most to thrive. If you have a rodent infestation, Triangle Pest Control can help. We offer pest control in Charlotte, pest control in Raleigh, and throughout NC, SC, and CO

First and foremost, there are some basic things that can be done to keep rats out of your home.

What Are Rats?

Obviously most people know what rats are, but we need to do a quick debrief on where they're commonly found, what they look like, what they eat, and more!

Rats are commonly found throughout the United States, and although they come in different sizes and colors, generally they are around 5 inches long to 10 inches long with long scaly tails and beady eyes. There have been reports of rats being as big as 6 or 7 lbs, but generally they are much smaller. 

According to the Integrated Taxonomic Information Report published by the government. there are over 50 species of rats in the United States, but generally they all look pretty similar.

What Do Rats Need?

Rats are commonly known as scavengers, and they don't need much to survive. That being said, the 3 basic things they do need to survive, are things that humans also have/need.

Humans provide the three essential things rats need to live:

  • Food: Rats will eat pretty much anything, and are known for scavenging through trashcans to find food or eating leftovers in your kitchen.
  • Water: Rats can survive for up to 4 weeks without directly drinking water because they absorb the majority of their water intake from the foods that they eat.
  • Shelter: Not surprisingly, rats are constantly searching for a safe place to call home. They are looking for protection from predators, but they are also looking for somewhere warm, which is why you'll notice an uptick of rodent activity in the Winter!

Why are Rodents like Rats Dangerous?

Rats cause several problems and can't be allowed to linger. The dangers of having rats in your home include:

  • Damage to your property: As rats invade buildings for shelter, they will frequently chew through electrical wires, destroy insulation, as well as pee and poop everywhere.
  • The spread of disease, several of which can be fatal: Rats carry quite a few diseases which can be dangerous to humans and pets. According to the CDC, rats can pass diseases such as Hantavirus, Lassa Fever, Leptospirosis, Monkeypox, Salmonellosis and more!
  • Contaminated food storage and preparation areas: If you are serving food in your home or at a restaurant, you're putting everyone at extreme risk because diseases can easily be spread through contaminated food!
  • The risk of fires from chewed wires: Rats can cause electrical fires because they are constantly chewing through electrical wires!

3 Signs Of A Rat Infestation In Your Home:

If you are wondering if you have a rat infestation, then you should be on the lookout for some of the following signs of rat activity:

1. Smells and Noise:

The most common sign of rat activity is the smell. Rats give off a very distinctive smell that smells like ammonia. Once you have smelled this before, you'll immediately recognize the smell moving forward.

Along with this, rats are extremely noisy, especially during the night. You'll often hear squeaking, scratching noises, and rustling noises. If you are noticing either the smell or noises, this means you have an active rat infestation in your home.

2. Rat Droppings and Urine:

Another sign of an active rat infestation are rat droppings and rat urine. Rat droppings are small, shiny black pellets that are about 1/2th to 3/4th of an inch long. Rat droppings typically are a bit more round, where mice droppings have pointed edges.

Along with this, rats typically move in the same routes, and these are generally in-between furniture and objects and along walls. When they're constantly moving in these routes, they can also leave greasy smears along furniture or your walls. 

3. Damage:

Another obvious sign of rat activity in your home is of course damage. Rats are pretty much guaranteed to leave some sort of damage wherever they go. They generally are known for chewing through electrical cords, but will also gnaw on furniture legs, destroy and paper products or blankets to make a nest, and destroy any food storage containers. You should constantly be on the lookout for any unaccounted for damage in your basement and attic to be aware of a rat infestation. 

How to Keep Rats Away

The best strategy on how to keep rats away is to work to keep these pests out of your home to start with. Once an infestation has begun they are hard to get rid of. Here are eight steps you can take to keep these rodents out of your home and away for good:

1. Fill holes, cracks and gaps

Rats can slip into holes the size of a quarter. Check your home for any opening that size and larger. Seal them up with proper materials. These include steel wool, hardware cloth, caulk, cement, and plaster. Weather-strip doors and windows if there are large cracks. Sealing these entry points is one of the most effective forms of rodent control!

2. Don't feed them

Rats are resourceful. They will find things to eat around your property, so you have to be diligent in dealing with them. Cover garbage cans at all times. Pick produce from your garden and trees as it ripens. Pick up and compost fruit and vegetables that fall to the ground. Feed outdoor pets during the day and don't leave leftover food lying around. Don't store pet food outside without making sure it's in rodent proof containers. Rodents will use any entry points they can if they are in the search for food, so in order to keep your rodent control effective, limit their food sources!

3. Remove their habitat

Don't give these vermin a place to live. Remove debris such as limbs, old cars or appliances from your property. If you have wood piles or lumber, store them at least 18 inches above ground and a foot or so away from your home and other walls. Remove heavy vegetation, as rats consider this is a great hiding place.

4. Trim trees, shrubs and limbs back four feet from your home

Rats aren't Olympians; they can't bridge that gap.

5. Set traps inside

There are several commercially available traps to catch rats inside your home that are not dangerous to pets and children, for example, cage traps.

6. Repel Rats:

It's possible to repel rats using essential oils such as peppermint oil and other smells that they naturally don't like. Using peppermint oil is one of the easiest ways to keep rats away from your home as long as you aren't giving them an easy food source. If they can easily access food in your home, then it will be difficult to deter rats, no matter the smell.

7. Use baits and poisons outside

Toxic baits and poisons should be used outside the home. Rats can spread poison inside your home, making it dangerous for all. Always read and follow label directions. Make sure rat bait is in an enclosed bait station. Keep the bait where children and pets can't reach it.

8. Check your neighborhood

Chances are, rats are a neighborhood issue. If you have a rat problem, it’s probably you won't be the only one dealing with these rodents. Band together with neighbors to check community areas for rat activity. Take the same steps listed above in these areas.

9. Call the pros

In general, the most effective step for eliminating rats is to call on professional rat exterminators when you see evidence of a rat infestation. Rats are dangerous, so it's best not to take a chance when dealing with them. Expert help will give you much better results than working on your own. By calling a reputable pest management company such as Triangle Pest Control, you'll ensure that your rat issue is professionally dealt with, and you won't have to worry about trying to keep them away from your home anymore!

Final Thoughts On How To Get Rid Of Rats:

Rats are one of the most frustrating household pests. They harbor diseases, they cause destruction to your house, and they contaminate your food. If you want to learn more about how to get rid of rats and many other household pest, please click below to download "The Ultimate Guide to Household Pests". I hope you've enjoyed our guide on how to get rats out of your house, although they can be stressful, our expert exterminators at TPC can make quick work and keep rats away for good!

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