Rats aren’t all bad, but any rats that aren’t pets definitely won’t be welcome in and around your home. Their love for chewing can destroy personal items and even property, but on top of that, they have a knack for spreading deadly diseases. These characteristics combined make rats a real concern when thinking about the well being of you and your family. By learning about their features and habits, you can better protect your property and your loved ones.
Rats are non-venomous rodents, but more specifically, they are part of the Muroidea family in the Rodentia order. What usually comes to mind when thinking of a rat is in the Rattus genus, but there are other genera as well. In fact, there are over 60 species of rats. Though this rodent originally hails from Australia and Asia, you can find them in virtually every continent in the world now. The most common rats on the planet are the Norway rat and the roof rat.
The term “rat” can be tossed around pretty indiscriminately to describe any rodent, but true rats usually have bodies that are at least 5 inches long with long, thin tails. These rodents typically have large, lightly furred ears, prominent eyes, pointed heads, and slender bodies. They have four legs and claws that are modestly long for their size. A rat’s tail length can vary between species, but they always have a smooth, bald appearance despite the fact that they are actually covered with tiny, fine hairs.
There are a few species of rat that live in close proximity to humans, including the Norway rat, also known as the brown rat, sewer rat, water rat, common rat, street rat, or Rattus norvegicus, and the roof rat, sometimes referred to as the house rat, ship rat, black rat, or Rattus rattus. While the roof rat primarily lives in areas with warmer climates, the Norway rat is usually found in temperate climates. More specifically, the Norway rat is especially predominant in urban areas.
Norway rats prefer living underground, which is why they are often associated with sewers. In the wild, this species has a fondness for digging tunnels underground, but they can also be found pretty much anywhere that humans reside. They gravitate toward low, dark, and wet areas, like cellars, docks, slaughterhouses, and basements. Because of this, you can usually find this species of rat in the lower floors of buildings, but they are capable of climbing as well.
Norway rats are primarily nocturnal creatures that stay pretty close to their home, usually limiting their searches for food and water to within 30 feet of where they live.
Since roof rats prefer semitropical and tropical climates, they are commonly found along the West Coast and southern East Coast of the United States. As their name implies, roof rats prefer living and traveling at higher altitudes. In the wild, they often live in rice fields, citrus groves, trees, and vine-covered fences. In buildings, you’ll usually find their nests as high as possible, like in wall voids, roofs, garage storage areas, attics, and rafters.
Rats can be beneficial for the natural environment and ecosystem in a number of ways, but they start to pose problems when they invade human property. One of the most well-known facts about rats is that they can carry and transmit diseases to humans. In fact, the spread of the bubonic plague can be attributed to these furry little rodents.
In all, there are over 35 diseases that rats and mice are responsible for spreading to humans both directly and indirectly, but perhaps the most deadly is hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS). HPS usually presents flu-like symptoms at first, making it difficult to diagnose and treat.
Directly, this spread of disease can occur by handling rodents, getting bitten by a rodent, or coming into contact with rodent saliva, urine, or feces. When transmission happens indirectly, it is from coming into contact with a parasite that fed on an infected rodent, such as a flea, mite, or tick. Some of the diseases that rats spread include pulmonary syndrome, hantavirus, rat-bite fever, food poisoning, and trichinosis. Because of this, their presence is both a symptom and a cause for unsanitary conditions.
Aside from the obvious health risks, rats can also pose a risk to buildings and homes through chewing. They are capable of gnawing through all sorts of things, including electric cables and wires, paneling, wooden beams, walls, furniture, clothing, and even metal pipes. The result can be catastrophic for home systems, and their fondness for electric wiring has even been known to start fires.
Some of the best ways to prevent a rat infestation are by:
It is essential that you protect your property and family from the problems that rats can cause. Even with all of these prevention measures, you may still find yourself battling a rat infestation that you just can’t handle on your own. That’s when you should rely on the experience and expertise of a professional pest control agency.
At Bulwark Exterminating, we have trained professionals that can not only identify the issue and eliminate the threat but also help you avoid any future infestations. The sooner you deal with the issue, the easier it will be to get rid of them and minimize the damage they cause.