Rats are common across the United Kingdom. Whether you live in a city or the countryside, there may come a time when you need to deal with rats invading your property. These unpleasant rodents look for shelter and food, taking advantage of readily accessible areas to find a new home.
We understand it can be stressful when you suspect a rat infestation. After all, no one wants to find rats in or near their home. The most important thing to do is act quickly. Rats are smart and adaptable, making them difficult to get rid of when left untreated.
Even if you’re not sure that you have a rodent problem, keep an eye out for the signs of a rat infestation. We’ve put together this handy guide to help you learn more about these pests, as well as what to do when you have rats. Don’t forget to be prepared to call in professional help if you need to. It may save a lot of stress and hassle in the long run!
How to spot a rat
Brown rats are the most common type of rat here in the United Kingdom. Perhaps it’s no surprise that these rodents are also known as the common rat.
They can usually be identified by their large size and brown to light grey fur. Brown rats can weigh up to half a kilogram and be up to 23cm in length (not including the tail). They have a short muzzle and small ears, which are typically covered in fur. You’ll also notice that brown rats tend to have longer legs and a tail shorter than the body.
Very occasionally, you might spot a black rat nearby to ports or on ships. These are typically rare in our country. That means you’re likely to be dealing with brown rats if you see the signs of a rat infestation in your home.
Signs of a rat infestation
You don’t need to physically see a rat in or around your property to know you have rats. These rodents are most active at night, which means you may not see one during daylight hours. Don’t wait until you see a rat in your home to take action; there are plenty of signs that indicate you have rats alongside sightings.
- Gnaw marks
Rats will chew through just about anything, including wood, cables and plastic. Look for gnaw marks around your skirting boards, in the loft and quiet areas of the home.
Unfortunately, if you have rats in the home, you are likely to see droppings in the areas the rats frequent. Rat droppings are dark brown and shaped like a grain of rice.
- Greasy marks
As the rats move around your home, they brush against the walls and skirting boards. You may notice greasy marks in these areas. The marks tend to be dark in colour and smudgy.
- Unexplained noises
How do you know if you have rats? Noise is a tell-tale sign. If you hear scurrying, scratching, gnawing and squeaking – especially at night – this could be a sign of a rat infestation.
Rats usually invade the quieter areas of your property, like laundry rooms and lofts. If any spaces are a little dusty, look out for prints or tracks. Alternatively, sprinkle some flour on the ground and wait to see if footprints appear.
- Rat holes
As we mentioned above, rats gnaw through a lot of different materials. To gain access to your cavity walls or roof space, you might notice that the rats have gnawed holes to create a burrow system. These could also be located in your garden, so keep a lookout for unexplained gaps near buildings or sheds.
- Damage around the home
Rats will use soft items to create their nests and will also gnaw through materials to find food. If you notice damage to cardboard, toilet paper or insulation, this could be a sign you have rats. Also, keep an eye on cereals and other food items in your kitchen.
Rats look for safe, warm places to make their home. Finding a nest is a key sign of a rat infestation, so try to look in cavity walls, in your roof space or your loft. Nests will usually look like a collection of soft items like we mentioned above.
Of course, a sure sign of a rat infestation is seeing one in the flesh. Whether you spot a dead or alive rat, be sure to call a professional pest control company as soon as possible. Don’t just rely on your senses either; pets can help you spot the signs of a rat infestation too.
Why is getting rid of rats important?
If you have answered the ‘do I have rats’ question, the next step is to get rid of these pests from your property. It’s important to remember that rats breed very quickly, which is just one reason why getting rid of the problem is so important. If left untreated, you could be dealing with a much larger issue.
Rats are dangerous to have around the home for a variety of reasons. These include:
- A threat to your health: Rats carry a range of diseases and germs, making them a very unsanitary pest to have in the home.
- Damage to your property: Rats can cause a vast range of structural damage to your home, increasing the risk of flood and fire.
- A risk of fire: Rats often gnaw through cables, insulation and other materials around your home. This can cause severe fires.
- A legal requirement: It is required by law for homeowners to keep their property rodent-free.
How to get rid of rats
While there are DIY options on the market, it’s usually best to call a professional pest control expert when you suspect you have rats. Rat poisons and traps can be dangerous when not used correctly and are not always the most efficient way of getting rid of the problem.
As well as getting rid of your infestation, rat control professionals will be able to advise you on how to prevent rats from entering your property again. From sealing up entry points to making your property less attractive to rodents, this information is invaluable for making sure your problem is gone for good.
If you are in the West Midlands, Willis Pest Control is on hand to help 24/7. We’re experienced in spotting the signs of rat infestations, as well as using safe removal methods to ensure your property is rat-free. Contact us on 0121 588 5258 or 07305 518033 for a free quote.