Frequently Asked Questions – Rats

Over the years we have been asked a lot of questions regarding rats and how to control them. We thought we would address them so that everyone can benefit. We hope you find this reader-requested Q&A beneficial.

Why did the rats pick my house?

Often people associate rats with filth, poor sanitation, and garbage which holds true in a lot of instances but not always the fact when they are in your home. Having rats in your home does not necessarily mean you are a dirty person. Rats take up residency anywhere there is food, water and shelter. Which means anywhere there is pet food, bird feeders or pet waste rats will be attracted to that area. Once attracted to an area rats start to look for a good “home” or nesting area. Sometimes these are just in heavy foliaged areas around the house but other times that seek out small holes or entry points on the house allowing them access to the interior. You might have had a clean home before but now that the rats have moved in it will be dirty in no time.

Why do rats want to live in my attic?

Rats are seeking a dry, warm place that they can setup and nest in. They prefer high & dry places like attics and can climb very well. They can climb up down spouts, in trees, on wires, even right up the stucco or siding wall. They can also jump from one place to another like from limbs onto your roof top. This allows them to then inspect your home from atop and look for entry points.

Where do rats gain entry into my home?

Rats do not need much space to gain entry. An adult rat needs only about an opening the size of a quarter and a juvenile rat a dime size. Often their entry points are holes from pipes or wires going into the house, roof vents that are not protected, loose or rotted siding, chimneys that aren’t capped, openings under the house, and holes or damage in soffit. Even if the hole doesn’t seem like it is big enough for them to get into keep in mind they are gnawing animals and if the hole is already started they will chew it to fit their needs.

When are rats a problem?

Rats are a problem as soon as you start to see them. Even if they are just on the exterior of your property that means that they have found a reason to want to stay. It could be as simple as you have a wood pile or trash pile that has attracted them. Rodents are very prolific and in no time you could have a colony of hundreds. So the rats that you had just seen on occasion on the exterior will eventually over populate and need to seek alternate shelter. Also, the weather plays a big factor in rodents and where they seek shelter.

When do rats have babies?

Rats really do not have a particular breeding season, they reproduce year round but, in Florida the peak activity is in spring and fall. They reach sexual maturity at 3-4 months of age. One female rat can have up to 200 offspring in her two year life span.

What’s the difference between a citrus rat, palm rat and a roof rat?

There is no difference because they are the same rat. These are just alias’s for the proper name Rattus rattus.

Why do I need to get rid of the rats?

Rats are nasty, filthy, disease carrying animals that will chew their way into wherever suits them. They can cause damage to wires and pipes, which can cause fires or leaks. They leave behind their urine and feces which spread disease. So, the question is more like: why would you want to keep them?

What do rats eat?

Rats will eat ANY & EVERYTHING… They have no preference. It could be the freshest loaf of bread to the most rotted garage. Things to watch as a home owner would be:
– Picking up any rotten citrus from the ground
– Keeping trash cans covered
– Not feeding pets outside
– No bird feeders

Do rats carry diseases?

YES, more than you probably realize.

Hantavirus
– This is a virus found in the droppings, urine, and saliva of some rodents.
– Transmitted when fresh urine and droppings are stirred up.
– Common symptoms: Fever, fatigue, headaches, chills and coughing.

Rat Bite Fever
– A bacteria found in the gums and teeth of many rats
– Transmitted through a bite, often with small children.
– Common symptoms: Mild flu symptoms; can be fatal.

Leptospirosis (Weil’s Disease)
– Disease organisms that are spread through urine.
– This disease enters humans through mucus membranes and minor cuts.
– Common symptoms: High fever, jaundice and kidney failure.

Lyme Disease
– Transmitted through parasites that rats have been the host of.
– Transmitted via a tick bite where a rat was the host.
– Common symptoms: skin lesions, fever, headaches and joint pain.

Are mice just baby rats?

No, mice and rats are two completely different rodents. Mice are smaller and have different characteristics. Yet, they both can cause the same destruction.

What are the most common rat complaints you receive?

Generally, the first complaint would be that of noises coming from the attic or walls, i.e. scratching, running or squeaking. The next thing would be the foul odor that rats leave from urinating and defecating everywhere they travel. The other common complaints are about property damage like chewed walls and siding, damaged wires and ruined insulation or A/C duct work.

Which poisons do you recommend to kill rats?

We only recommend having a professional come out and place commercial grade rodent bait stations with professional grade poison that is right for your situation. There are store bought poisons that a homeowner can by, but you should be aware of the consequences if you decide to use them. If the rats are poisoned inside your home they may die inside your home, leaving a rotting carcass within your walls that will take weeks to dissipate. We generally only recommend poisons after a home or structure has been sealed and more or less as a preventative to keep them from chewing their way back in.

Which rat repellents are the best?

Ultra sonic and chemical repellents are not generally successful against a rat infestation. Mechanical repellants or deterrents such as barriers are proven to be far more affective.

Which methods do you use to exterminate rats?

Most all of the time we use kill traps. This is the most affective way to minimize a population without any unwanted or adverse affects.

If I am having a rat problem who should I call for help?

You should call a professional. Someone that specializes in nor only rodent removal but also the prevention and protection of keeping them out of your home. It requires a special niche to “think like a rat” and solve the infestation.

Why should I hire a professional to get rid of rats?

Rats are one of the most challenging animals that we deal with not only because they can squeeze through such small openings but also because they can become trap and bait shy. Without the proper training, expertise, and proprietary equipment it is nearly impossible to get rid of the rats, make sure they stay out and clean up the mess they created. Professionals are able to recommend the proper repairs or modifications to prevent the rats’ return. You do not want to just trap what you think is there you want to be sure they are gone and can not return.

What damage can rats cause?

The simple answer would be EVERYTHING you can possibly imagine. But, we will expound a little bit so you can see just what that cute, big eared critter can do. Rats are part of the rodent family which means they must chew. With that being said they can almost chew their way into anything if they so wish too. They are notorious for chewing holes into your home, inviting themselves in out of the elements. Once inside they have been known to chew wires, burrows holes into your A/C ducts and insulation all of which sets you, as the home owner, up for contracting a disease from all of the droppings they have left behind. Not to mention that if they make it down your walls and into your living space they will seek out food containers and gnaw through them contaminating them while doing so. They also will destroy crops and gardens and can burrow and undermine concrete foundations and slabs. There is nothing safe from a rat.

I’m trying to sell my house, What is this going to do to my property value?

Unfortunately you cannot sell a piece of property without disclosing, and most always fixing, a rat infestation. Remember no one wants to live with a dirty nasty animal. If the chewed electrical wires cause a fire, your property can be a total loss. Most commonly, general damage requires significant repair and replacement of contaminated areas. Once the property has been restored back to a safe living environment you can proceed wth your sale.

If I decide to have you come out and inspect my property for rats what can I expect?

We offer a free inspection of both the intro and exterior of your property. The technician that comes out will go through the attic and look for all signs of rodent activity i.e. torn or chewed duct work, gnawed wires, chewed holes and feces left behind. Once the interior inspection has been done the tech will then proceed to walk around the exterior of the home looking for all potential entry points with that are being used currently and any and all other potential points of entry. This is done both from the ground level and the roof level. Once the inspection is completed the technician will then discuss, show and explain their findings. They will create an estimate based upon their findings and what best fits the scenario at hand. The most common being excluding (sealing) the entry points, trapping out what is left behind and then cleaning of the dropping if necessary.There are times when the homeowners help is needed as well i.e. house keeping, lawn maintenance etc.