Rats are a homeowner’s worst nightmare in many parts of the world. While its larger cousin, the Norway rat, usually takes the spotlight, the roof rat can cause plenty of chaos too. Rats can chew through electrical wires, contaminate food, and bring diseases into your home. Roof rats can multiply quickly, with a single female birthing up to 24 babies a year.
Left unchecked, a rat infestation can even cause structural damage to a home. So, how do you keep these pesky rodents from nibbling away at grandma’s photos in the attic? Calling pest control services can definitely help, but won’t solve the problem indefinitely. The first step is to take appropriate preventative measures:
Seal Any Holes or Cracks.
Holes, cracks, and vents on the exterior of your attic make the perfect entry point for rats. Even if the hole is too small, rats have been known to chew holes to make them large enough to pass through. Any opening larger than half a centimeter is a potential rat door. Seal any cracks or holes and place screens over vents to make sure rats cannot enter through them. If your roof is aging, consider calling a roof repair service to make sure it’s rat-proof.
Trim Your Trees and Vines
Performing regular garden maintenance will discourage these rodents from settling anywhere near your house. Rats, especially roof rats, are excellent climbers and may nest in trees. If you have vines or tree limbs growing along your roof or the side of your house, you can be just a hop, skip and a jump away from a rat infestation. Similarly, make sure to keep any pile of yard waste, debris, or firewood far from the house and clean them regularly. These are also ideal rat nesting sites.
Properly Store Food–and Trash
A clean house tends to be a pest-free house, and the key to sanitation is often proper storage of food and waste. Nothing says “Welcome, pests!” quite like an open trash can. Even outdoor trash cans can tell rats that a buffet isn’t far away. Inside the house, keeping human and pet food in airtight containers means that rats won’t be drawn in by appetizing smells. Lastly, make sure nothing edible or tempting ends up stored improperly in your attic. This is because roof rats have an indiscriminate appetite and will feast on anything from house plants to candle wax and paper. Potential water sources, such as leaking pipes, can attract rodents, especially in drier areas. So, remember that even water can attract rodents.
Try to keep your attic as tidy as possible, as extraneous clutter means that rats have more places to hide. Also, cardboard boxes are easily gnawed through and make great rat nests. So, try to stick with plastic or metal containers for storage.
Spot the Signs
But what if you already have rats in the attic? The sound of scurrying feet and squeaking at night are both telltale signs of infestation. However, it’s good to keep an eye out for less obvious signs like pawprints and gnaw marks. Pets may tip you off about rat activity, as will any droppings or unpleasant smells.
While you might be tempted to find the fastest way to kill off the rats in your attic, without taking the preventative measures listed above, more rats may simply come in through the same route. Your best bet is to first seal off any potential entryways to make sure no more rats can get in while you deal with your current problem.
Rat poison is definitely not your best option, as it tends to pose a major danger for children or pets in the household. Besides, the last thing you want are rats crawling into some inaccessible corner of your attic to die and rot away! Poison also tends to be quite limited in its effectiveness. If one rat gets sick from eating the poison, the other rats in the colony will know to avoid it. Instead, set up snap traps with bait to capture the rats. Once the rats have been trapped, you can call a rat removal service you help you get rid of these pesky critters once and for all.
If you’ve had rat issues in the past, you know that your house is prone to infestation. Maintain your house and yard properly and keep an eye out for telltale signs. Rats will think twice about settling down and raising their litters in your attic!