Now that winter has set in, we are all looking for ways to stay warm. Unfortunately, we are not the only ones. Rodents such as mice, rats, squirrels and others will try and take refuge in your warm home. It is estimated that over 21 million homes are infested by rodents every winter.
If rodents get into your home, they can cause many problems and some can be deadly. The main concern is rats, and in Arkansas, there are various species of them including the Roof Rat and the Wood Rat. You think your home is secure so how did they get in?
Rats will scratch and chew their way through almost any material, including concrete. A hole the size of a quarter is big enough for a young rat to fit through. Once they are in, they will build nests and multiply quickly. Many times, the first sign that you have intruders is a scratching sound behind walls or in the ceiling, and mainly at night. Rat droppings will soon start to appear along walls, behind furniture, in pantries and in the garage. They will look like little pellets and the darker they are, the fresher they are. A small rice sized dropping is a sign of mice. A single rat can leave 35-50 droppings in a day and a mouse up to 150. Rat urine also has a very strong odor and will seem to come from everywhere as rats can urinate every few minutes. They urinate to mark their territory and to let the other rats know where they stand in the group. The urine smell will be prevalent where food is stored, and bags and boxes of food will have holes chewed in them. Another popular spot will be under the sink where rats will look for moisture to drink.
When rats are not eating, they are building nests and mating. Left unchecked, a mating pair can produce 2,000 total offspring in a year. They will use almost anything for nesting material. This can create a very dangerous situation. Rats will chew on the insulation of wires to use for their nests, exposing wires and creating a potential fire hazard. They will also chew on the wire to grind their teeth down and potentially cause an electrical failure.
There are over 35 diseases associated with rats worldwide, according to the Center for Disease Control.
These diseases can be transmitted directly from rat to human. They include:
- Rat-Bite Fever
- Bubonic Plague