According to the Integrated Taxonomic Information System, over 60 species of rats exist. Regardless of species, rats make their way into homes and businesses and cause serious damage. And if that wasn’t enough, they also pose a health risk with the diseases they carry.
Fortunately, there are ways to keep yourself and your property safe from pests. It mostly comes down to keeping things clean, both indoors and outdoors.
What Attracts Rats?
Here are some of the most common factors that bring rats into your home.
Rats only need one ounce of food per day to thrive. These rodents are omnivores, meaning they will eat plants, insects, and even meat. They eat just about any food scraps they can find, but nuts, fruits, and grains are their most common food sources.
Since they get most of their water from their food, a rat can go up to one month without drinking. However, a home with a steady water source will appeal to a rat seeking shelter.
Common water sources for rats include pets’ water bowls, leaking pipes or faucets, and swimming pools.
Warmth and Shelter
Rats will seek out any place that provides heat and shelter, especially during winter. They’ll often build nests inside your walls, behind furniture, or any other space that’s out of sight.
How Fast Do Rats Reproduce?
Most female rats bear six to seven litters of pups in a year. Each litter has somewhere between five and twelve pups. Additionally, a rat is ready to reproduce at around 8 weeks old. Just one pregnant rat on your property can lead to a massive rodent population in a matter of months.
Signs of a Rat Problem
Grease, Smears, and Smudges
As rats move across surfaces on your property, the oil on their fur can leave behind brown grease stains.
Foot and Tail Marks
When rats wander around in search of food at night, they may leave behind footprints and tail tracks. Look out for tiny, hand-shaped footprints with a line in the center.
Another sign of rodent infestations is seeing gnaw marks. These animals commonly chew on wood, wire, and fabric.
Rat Droppings and Urine Pillars
Droppings and urine are some of the primary signs of a rat infestation. Rat droppings look like shiny black grains of rice. You might also find urine pillars, which are small piles of dried-up urine and dirt.
Rats will build nests out of soft materials they find on your property. Tissue, cotton, or fabric are common sources of nesting material. Look for these nests inside any wall cavities or crevices in your home.
If you hear squeaking or scuttling in your walls, especially during the night, that could be a sign of a rat infestation.
How to Avoid Rats in Maryland Homes
Here’s how you can keep your Maryland home rat-free, both indoors and outdoors.
- Clean your home thoroughly, including under and behind appliances.
- Make sure rats don’t have access to food in your home. Store your food items (including pet food) in airtight containers.
- Limit the areas where you or your kids eat, and always clean up any crumbs or spills.
- Fix any leaks in your property as soon as possible.
- Use a dehumidifier in your home; maintaining a humidity of 30% to 50% is ideal.
- Replace wooden basement floors with concrete, which is more durable.
- Keep your porches and outdoor steps clean, especially those that lead directly into the home.
- Close your windows tightly, and use a lock if possible.
- Make sure every window has a metal screen. Replace any screens with holes in them.
- Fill any gaps in your home with hardware cloth, sheet metal, or steel wool.
- Eliminate potential outdoor shelters such as old appliances, compost piles, old fences, or bird feeders.
- Trim hedges and other plants around your property, as rats can climb these to get into your home.
- Get trash cans with a secure lid. Metal ones are best, but heavy-duty plastic works as well.
If none of these tips work, contact Phenom Pest Protection for help!