In Britain, there are two types of rat: the brown rat and the black rat. The black rat, also known as the roof rat, spends 90% of its life four feet or more off the ground and tends to live in walls, trees and loft spaces. The following information will tell you how to get rid of rats.
Smaller than the brown rat, black rats are 13 to 18 inches in length, including the tail. They weigh between five and nine ounces and have slender bodies, pointed snouts, big eyes and large, almost hairless ears.
They are nocturnal and active within a territory of 200 to 300 feet from their nesting locations. Black rat colonies can range from three to four individuals up to several hundred.
Outside, black rats nest in trees, woodpiles, debris and in dense vegetation. Inside, they prefer to nest in the upper levels of the building, such as the attic and ceiling.
They can climb up brick, concrete block and other rough surfaces and travel along power lines to trees and roofs. Black rats are also able to jump two feet up and four feet horizontality, and can double the horizontal distance if jumping from a height.
It is very important to control your rat infestation, particularly as they can spread diseases. Rats spread disease directly by contaminating food with their urine or faeces, or by biting. They can also transmit diseases indirectly through fleas, which if infected, can transfer the disease to other animals or people.
As well as spreading disease, rats can gnaw through wires, pipes, wood and upholstery. As a result, rats can cause structural damage including undermining the foundations of buildings, damaging plastic and lead pipes, damaging door frames, furniture and electric wires and can destroy and contaminate stored foods.
There are a number of ways to tell if you have rats in your home, including:
As always, prevention is a cheaper and better alternative than cure.
To prevent rats entering your home, it’s important to understand how and why they get inside.
Rats will enter your home in search for one or all of the three things they need to survive: food, water and shelter to create a nest, raise their young and hide from predators.
Rats can enter your home through openings as small as half-an-inch. These openings can be found anywhere including ill-fitting doors or windows, pipes, or holes in the exterior walls or underneath the eaves of block and/or wood constructed buildings.
Once the rats have found an opening, they can extend the opening’s width for easier access.
To prevent rats nesting in your home, you need to seal any visible openings and ensure that they don’t have access to food, water or shelter.
To limit their shelter, remove rubbish and maintain vegetation around the building to reduce the number of safety spots around your house. As rats can use tree branches that overhang the roof and can climb up ivy and creepers to gain entry to your attic, these may require regular trimming or even removal.
For food and water, ensure that all potential food is secured in sealed steel containers and that you do not have any leaking pipes.
There are many products that can help seal any openings around your home. Wire mesh can be used for larger holes or broken air vents, while smaller openings can be filled using expanding foam, Mouse-stop proofing paste and/or wire wool.
To get rid of your roof rats, you can purchase a range of products. These include rodenticides, lethal traps and electronic kill traps.
Rodenticides are the quickest and easiest way to get rid of a large colony of rats. Rats are highly intelligent social creatures which live and feed together as a colony. If they sense something is wrong with their food source, they will stay away. As toxicity builds up slowly, by the time it has taken a lethal dose, usually between two and four feeds, the rat still has not associated the food with its demise and soon the whole colony will have gradually joined in on the feast. Within ten to 14 days, the entire colony will have been peacefully eliminated.
Because of the way rodents feed and to keep non target species safe, rodenticide should only be used with rat bait stations and placed in several locations where rats are active.
If you have one or two occasional rats, traps can be effective. Traps work best when used inside bait stations, which hide the trap from view and prevents other animals from accessing the trap.
Rats are highly intelligent and learn from the mistakes of other rats. If they see another rat caught in a trap, they will forever be cautious and stay away from them. This is why traps will not be effective against a large colony of rats.
Summary of the five best ways to get rid of roof rats:
Rats are important to control as they cause damage and spread disease.
As always, the best and cheapest option is prevention. For established colonies use rodenticides, but for occasional visitors lethal, live catch and electronic kill traps can be used.