As well as transmitting diseases to humans, rats’ feeding habits are destructive and their nesting habits can also cause considerable damage to buildings and other structures due to their burrowing. Rats are secretive and are not always seen if population is low, so how do you know if rat poison is required?
What should you look out for?
Sightings – Rats like to hide, so if you have seen a live rat it is likely that a full infestation already exists.
Droppings – If there is a healthy, feeding rat population droppings will be present.
Markings – Rats leave behind dirt and grease marks along the walls and floors from the oils in their fur and the dirt they carry in from outside. Look for footprints and tail swipe marks.
Runs – Once made, rats follow the same path. Look for tracks left in the grass or low vegetation that act as a rat run.
Outside – Rats live in burrows, look for them in grassy embankments, under the roots of trees and at the sides of paving and under drain covers.
Inside – nests of rats can be found inside lofts and attics, under the floorboards or any other quiet, dark places that are not used frequently.
Destruction – Rats gnaw incessantly on plastic, wood, wax and cables as well as food items. The presence of damage caused by large, rough teeth marks is a sure sign of infestation.
Why should rats be controlled?
Rats transmit diseases to humans such as Salmonellosis (food poisoning) and Weils disease, which can result in liver and kidney damage. Their deep burrowing can cause structural damage to buildings as deep as the foundations.
What action should I take?
If you decide to tackle rat control yourself there are two main options:
Rat poison – This can be bought in many forms such as rat poison blocks or poison pellets which can be bought from hardware stores, garden centres and agricultural suppliers. The rat poison should be put in a safe place away from children and pets.
Traps – Break-back traps should be set where the rats travel and they should be baited with chocolate, biscuits or cereal. Do not set the trap until bait has been removed from an unset trap a number of times, and make sure you remove any dead rats as soon as possible.
Rats are highly adaptable, mobile, and breed rapidly, so if an infestation is evident it is recommended that you consult a pest control professional.
Have you had the experience of a rat infestation? Which form of pest control did you find most effective?