Rat infestation is a prevalent pest control problem in many homes. Rats’ presence is no longer limited to the farms in rural areas, but they also dwell in cities and the suburbs. Wherever there is food lying around, these pesky little rats are sure to be found.
How Rats Proliferate
Rats breed like rabbits. They are incredibly productive and could mate up to 500 times in six hours! Their pregnancy lasts only about three weeks and could produce a litter of 10 to 20 babies. Imagine how fast they multiply if they stay undetected underground and in a filthy cellar in the house. When rats are seen in the open, it can only mean they are already overcrowding and are looking for another place to crash.
Although rats and mice belong to the same rodent family, they don’t see eye to eye. Rats eat mice, among other things. Mice are naturally curious, and rats are the cautious kind. Rats are bigger than mice and they prefer the dark sewers underground. They may have differences in physical appearance and physiology, they share the same propensities; they gnaw incessantly and are both destructive and carriers of many diseases.
Of Rats and Mice
Finding the Source
Finding the source of rat infestation can be a difficult task if you are not a rodent pest control expert. By the time you hear the scratching and gnawing sound, these rodents have already invaded your home and they are not just passing by, they have come to stay.
The first sign of their presence is the acrid smell of their urine. Then comes the droppings behind the stove, fridge, microwave oven, and the ac vents! Yes, that is how you got to smell that strange musky scent. Another tell-tale sign of their presence is, the trail of food scraps, spilt grains and gnawed sacks of produce in the storage room. When you see these signs, you can be sure a tiny hole on the wall can’t be far away.
Pests like rats and mice are very resilient. Due to their speed in reproduction, it may take a while, if not impossible, to completely eradicate this problem if you are doing it on your own. You can’t just chase after mice who are very agile and cunning. Rats, on the other hand, you will have to look for them in the dank cellar, putrid sewers and hard-to-reach crawl spaces. With over 70 species of rats known all over the world, it is necessary to identify the type of rodent in your property. Pest control if not done right, you can expect more gnawing in the future.
Why You Must Eradicate Rat Infestation
Reiterating the obvious, rats are a harbinger of serious diseases. For centuries, rats have been associated with some of the world’s deadliest plagues like the “Black Death” that almost wiped out Europe six centuries ago. Although modern scientists believe it was the bacterium Yersinia Pestis carried by rat fleas that were responsible for the horrendous death, the fact remains it was the rat infestation that caused the rapid spread of the disease.
Diseases Caused by Rats
There are two types of disease transmission that plagued humankind since the 12th century. One is direct exposure to infected rodent via urine, droppings, saliva, and dander. Another is carried by rat fleas, ticks and mites that bite people. Some of these medical conditions documented by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the US are:
- Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome. This highly transmittable virus from the rice rat is an airborne pathogen that comes from rodent droppings, dried urine, and decayed body of dead rats. The symptoms at the onset are like flu and often mistaken as one. The patient may disregard it as common cold or influenza until it is too late.
- Salmonellosis. Food contaminated with Salmonella bacteria from rat’s urine or faecal matter can cause diarrhoea, vomiting, fever, and stomach cramps. The symptoms could last up to a week.
- Leptospirosis. This bacterial infection is transmitted via contaminated water. This disease often appears during the monsoon season when heavy rains cause flooding. Immersing in flood water with rat’s urine can cause this unpleasant medical problem. This may not be a life-threatening condition but may lead to secondary infections.
- Plague. Also known as the “Bubonic Plague”, blood-sucking rat fleas and ticks can transmit the disease when they bite humans. Fleas taking a blood-meal from infected rats can spread the plague faster. This disease causes fever, swollen lymph nodes, internal haemorrhaging and excruciating abdominal pain.
- Rat-Bite Fever. This infectious disease can be fatal if not treated immediately. Transmission is through eating food contaminated by an infected rodent. Within three to four days the patient may experience acute muscle pain, headaches, fever, vomiting, and red rashes.
What You Can Do to Prevent Rat Infestation
During the colder months, rats and mice enter homes through the holes and cracks in the wall or baseboards in search of food and warmth. When this happens undetected, structural damage will start, and the infestation will occur in no time. In order to prevent a possible onset, you can do the following precautions:
- Check for holes. These tiny entrances are usually found behind stationary furniture, heavy cabinets and appliances. Look under the sink, behind PVC pipes, ac ducts, and behind headboards. Seal these holes with tin sheets and sealant inside and out.
- Use rat traps. Local hardware stores sell mousetraps and sticker mats which may help at some point. But rats and mice are smart and cunning pests. They will not take the same path where their comrades have fallen.
- Clean up the mess. Rodents are always looking for food and they like the messy kitchen and uncovered meals. These pests have an acute sense of smell and could detect the scent of food even after the area has been cleaned. Better disinfect to eliminate the traces.
Rat infestation is not the only pest control problem anywhere. When crawling and flying insects cause inconvenience and destruction of property and threaten people’s health, they become pests that need to be eliminated. Don’t wait for it to become uncontrollable. Call your local pest control company to mitigate the problem.