They’ve hitched rides around the globe, survived off our waste and, in various cultures including Europe’s, provided a food source for hundreds of years. Black rats (Rattus rattus) accompanied us to Europe in around the third century BC and were joined, several centuries later, by brown rats. Both species voyaged with us far beyond Europe, reaching the shores of North America in the 16th and mid-18th centuries. Today, in Europe and America, black rats have been out competed and almost completely replaced by the larger and more aggressive brown rat (Rattus Norvegicus).
No matter how much we like to distance our culture from theirs, we have always had a close relationship; although occasionally hostile!
We’re so well connected, in fact, that they like to live near us. Brown rats (the most common species) are talented burrowers and have been known to force a way into buildings through the least likely of entry points and establish nests right under our noses. With winter growing ever colder, rodents are in search of food and warmth, and where better to find it than your home?
Those two long front teeth so widely associated with rats are called open-rooted incisors. Unlike human odontogenesis, rats have no need for dentures once they reach old age because their teeth continue to grow throughout their short lifespan. Annoyingly, they develop so efficiently that rats sharpen their teeth through grinding and gnawing on just about anything in their path.
They utilise their knife-sharp teeth for more than nibbling chair-legs, and sewer rats (brown rats) instinctively burrow downwards, towards heat, using their teeth as a handy tool. Many reside in burrows as deep as 3 feet all year round, however, with temperatures dropping during winter, search for warmer conditions indoors. Unfortunately for you, this little migration could have big effects on you and your home. As rats move inside, they can cause extensive damage to property with their highly efficient burrowing methods. Don’t worry! Indicators of an infestation or rodent presence is covered in the ‘evidence of intrusion’ section.
Most rats also carry numerous diseases, most notably Leptospirosis (Weil’s disease) and salmonellosis. Furthermore, rats can act as second-hand transmitters of illnesses such as Lyme disease and Colorado Tick Fever. It is therefore important that a rat infestation should be dealt with promptly.
Rats are incredibly habitual in nature, so much so that they have been labelled neophobic (afraid of new things). They may have learnt to fear new food sources as an adaptive response to poisonous man-made baits being laid on their food.
In utero, rats recognise their mother’s diet across the placental barrier and respond, once out of the womb, by consuming those same foods. While the black rat is vegetarian, brown rats are omnivorous so will eat just about anything and everything a human throws away. In fact, the worldwide population of rats are responsible for consuming and contaminating enough food each year to feed around 200 million people.
Brown rats consume an average of 50g of food per day and, despite the majority of their nutrition coming from bird-feeders or bins, they are still picky eaters and copy their friends’ habits. Another daunting correlation between rats and humans is that we both appear to love high-fat foods.
Since rats cannot transport grain easily, they consume it on the spot, rendering them vulnerable to prey during feeding time. Grains, such as cereal, are a typical easily accessible food source for them in homes.
Rats have an incredible sense of smell and can distinguish what others have eaten by the scent of food particles on their whiskers. Whatever the nutritional value of this food, be it deadly or bursting with vitamin C, the rat will assume the food is safe because another rat has eaten it and proceed to eat it themselves.
Interestingly, the smaller rats in a mischief (the collective name for a group of rats) are out-competed by larger ones and made to venture out in search of secondary food sources; these are dubbed ‘taster rats’. A taster rat must inspect new food sources for contamination, and, if it survives, begrudgingly delivers the news back to its mischief who arrive and push him out of the food source to consume themselves.
EVIDENCE OF INTRUSION
Rats are not the perfect criminal, they do leave evidence. Signs of an intrusion and possible infestation can include:
Both brown and black rats are nocturnal and therefore feed at night so that scuttling sound waking you during the night could indicate the presence of a rodent.
Norway rat droppings are 1.5cm long with blunt ends.
Roof rat droppings are 1.3cm long with pointed ends.
Both appear in clusters.
Dark grey marks on surfaces from oil on hair.
Brown rats are native to urban sewers – hence the pseudonym ‘sewer rat’ – so it’s not surprising that they are skilled burrowers with sharp claws. Their nests are often uncovered under the floorboards or in pantries. They create extensive networks with their point of entry often at the foot of solid objects such as dishwashers or countertops.
Rodents enjoy chewing anything in the household from internet cables to chair legs.
In the dusty, disused corners of a building, rodents often leave footprints or tail markings.
At night, if your dog is barking at what seems like nothing, it could be picking up the scent or sounds of rats.
TREATMENT & PREVENTION
Bait & Kill
- Baiting and killing is a sure-fire solution since more pressure is applied to the rodent population. Our Ultra Power Block Bait kills rats and mice in just one feed to quickly eliminate the source of the problem and ensure less reproduction cycles.
- All our Bait & Kill stations come with safety precautions including a lock & key feature, designed with the safety of your children and pets in mind to reduce the risk of accidental contact with bait.
- A lot of rodent bait on the market can deteriorate in poor weather conditions, however, our All-Weather Block Bait is moisture resistant and remains fresh in damp and wet winter months.
Catch & Kill
- Catch & Kill traps come equipped with a non-lethal bait which attracts and kills rodents. Individual refills of Mouse & Rat Attractant are also available for a tested and proven way of increasing catch rates.
- Our non-lethal, prune-based bait is safe for use around pets and children as it contains no chemicals or poisons.
- Many of our Catch & Kill products are pre-baited and ready to use straight out of the packet with a simple one-touch trap setting, designed to offer quick, efficient and cost-effective resolution.
- Ultra Power Catch & Kill products are high-powered traps with proven snap and hold technology, administering a clean kill in just a few seconds.
- The Ultra Power range includes tamper-resistant Trap Kits, meaning they’re designed with the safety of your children and household pets in mind. As with the bait stations, they have a lock & key feature with low-profile design to avoid attracting attention from little fingers or paws.
- Sonic rodent repellers are a modern addition to the pest control market, scientifically developed to emit ultrasonic frequencies, inaudible to the ears of humans and non-rodent household pets, yet loud enough to be unpleasant for target pests. Our Sonic Repellers (STV726/STV728) are extremely simple to use and maintenance free. Simply plug the device in for 24/7 protection of an area up to 37m2 per unit.
- Other modes of repelling include our Anti Rodent Sachets and Refresher Spray, containing a 100% Natural Mint Aroma suitable for home and living areas.
- Our Ultra Power range is scientifically tested and proven to provide high-calibre control of target pests. The Mega-Sonic Twin-Speaker Ultrasonic Pest Repeller (STV725) employs 2x ultrasonic power, compared to standard ultrasonic repellents, to successfully repel from over 90% of treatment areas. The Ultra Power units protect a wider area than the standard The Big Cheese range of ultrasonic repellents. The Mega-Sonic Twin-Speaker Ultrasonic Pest Repeller covers a surface area of up to 60m2 and over 200m2 will be protected by the Mega-Sonic Multi-Speaker 360o Pest Repeller (STV748). In addition to the comprehensive pest control provided, the Ultra Power repellents in this range also come with a two-year warranty and money-back satisfaction guarantee.
- This method minimises human contact with the pests and makes for a more sanitary solution to your pest problem.
- Many repellers do not emit high enough frequency to penetrate walls and target the nest, however, our Advanced Pest Repeller pulses through wiring to reach nest sites within walls, ceilings and cavities.
- For customers who are averse to killing rodents when dealing with an infestation, more ethical alternatives are available. In contrast to traditional kill traps and poisons, this category captures the pest then permits release into the wild.
- Our Ultra Power Live Multi-Catch Rat Trap (STV080) has an all-weather design and a lifetime guarantee, as well as being able to humanely capture up to 5 rats.
- With the absence of lethal baits and spring-loaded traps, this method is super-safe to use around children and household pets.
- When using live catch traps, you should always adhere to the 1981 Wildlife Act by checking traps regularly and storing away out of the reach of animals when not in use to avoid the accidental trapping of non-target animals or prolonging their distress.
HELPFUL TIPS & TRICKS
- As an additional attractant, apply to a trap any sweet and sticky food which would be tricky to remove, such as jam or peanut butter. Alternatively, consider our poison-free Mouse and Rat Attractant (STV163), designed by pest control professionals.
- Sprinkle flour over rodent tracks, leave for a few days, then check to see if more tracks are present. If so, it is likely you have an ongoing rodent problem.
- Seal up entry points around and under household appliances, since rodents can gain access to valuable property through unlikely holes.
- Rats are thigmophilic, meaning they heavily rely on touch to navigate and will therefore commonly travel alongside walls and other flat, solid surfaces for safety. Make sure you place bait stations and traps exactly on the rat run, with entry points and bait wells facing the flat surface.
- Rats are neophobic, meaning they fear new things. Therefore, you should leave this strange new object on their rat-run for 2-3 days, allowing them to acclimatise to it before inserting the bait or setting it.
- Always wear gloves when handling traps and other pest control methods to avoid transferring human scents; the sensitive noses of rats will easily detect foreign scents in their usual environment.
Eliminate food sources
- Keep food in secure containers. This includes pet food stored outdoors.
- Scrub down cooking appliances regularly (indoors and outdoors) to remove food debris.
- Remove bins from your house and keep lids secured. Avoid letting bins overflow.