Finding rats around your home can be disturbing and concerning. Black rats, also called roof rats or ship rats, are adept at climbing and nesting in attics or walls. Getting rid of them for good takes diligence, but is very doable. This guide will cover how homeowners can identify black rats, remove current infestations, and prevent future ones from invading your home and property.
Identifying Black Rats
Black rats (Rattus rattus) are distinct from the larger Norway or brown rats. Here are some identification tips:
- Color – Black rats have black, gray or light brown fur. Their belly fur is typically lighter.
- Size – Around 5-10 inches long, plus a 6-10 inch tail. Their bodies are long and slender.
- Ears & Eyes– Prominent, large ears and eyes. Their ears are larger vs. Norway rats.
- Droppings – Around 1⁄2 inch, capsule-shaped. Usually black or brown.
- Teeth – Longer than their Norway cousins, with a pronounced gap between top incisors.
- Habits – Excellent climbers, nest up high in attics and trees. Jump vertically up to 3 feet.
Catching sight of these large-eared, agile rats likely means you have an infestation needing removal.
Signs of Black Rats in Your Home
Watch for these common signs of black rat activity in your home:
- Noises in walls, ceiling, attic – Rats are active at night and may squeak, scratch or scamper in their nests.
- Holes inside or outside – Watch for small, 2 inch entry holes they chew into attics. Seal any you find.
- Rat droppings – You may find small black or brown droppings along walls or baseboards.
- Gnawed materials – Rats love to chew and gnaw wood, drywall, wiring, plants, fruits and more.
- Footprints – In dust or soft soils you may see small 5-toed footprints from rats.
- Grease marks – From their fur rubbing against surfaces as they travel along walls and pipes.
- Damaged stored food – Bagged foods may be torn into with bits rat-chewed food left behind. Keep food sealed.
Don’t ignore such signs. Finding even one rat likely means many more nearby that you haven’t yet seen. Take action quickly.
Dangers and Health Risks of Rats
Beyond just being a disturbing nuisance, rats can also pose health and safety risks including:
- Disease – Rats can carry dangerous diseases transmittable to humans through their urine, droppings, or bites. These include leptospirosis, hantavirus, rat-bite fever and even plague.
- Asthma triggers – Rat allergens and droppings stir up asthma symptoms. Eradicate them from your home.
- Property damage – Rats love to chew on wood, drywall, wiring, insulation and more. This can lead to costly repairs.
- Fire hazard – Rats are known to chew electrical wires and cause dangerous shorts or fires in walls.
- Contamination – Rat droppings, hairs and urine can contaminate surfaces, food supplies and more in a home. Major health hazard.
Clearly, rats should never be tolerated inside a home or building. Call a professional exterminator at the first signs.
Removing Current Rat Infestations
If you have already identified signs of black rats in or around your home, you’ll need to take steps to eliminate their nests and entry points. Here is an overview of the rat removal and extermination process:
Inspection and Nest Location
A pest control technician will thoroughly inspect your home’s exterior and interior to pinpoint where rats may be entering and nesting. Attics and walls are hotspots. Droppings often reveal nest locations.
Sanitation and Entry Proofing
All food materials must be sealed off. Holes larger than 1/4 inch should be sealed shut with steel wool, caulk, wood, metal or concrete. This “rat proofs” a home and removes entry points after rats are gone.
Removal of Nests & Rodents
Nests are humanely removed and disposed of. Traps or low-toxicity rodenticides may be used to exterminate rats. Carcasses and dead rats will also be removed and disposed of properly.
Cleanup and Decontamination
Affected areas will be thoroughly sanitized and decontaminated. Droppings, nesting residues, and other contaminants are removed and cleaned up fully. Proper disinfectants are applied.
Your technician will monitor areas for several weeks afterward, ensuring rats have been fully cleared, no new entry points exist, and no further signs of activity remain. Ongoing preventative treatments will be recommended.
This comprehensive process helps fully remove rat infestations and droppings for a rat-free, sanitized home again. Leave it to seasoned professionals. Never attempt to poison rats yourself with store-bought products.
Eliminating Rats From The Attic or Walls
Attics and wall voids are common nesting spots for black rats to harbor safely. Getting them out takes some persistence:
- Locate entry holes – Check the exterior for any small holes or gaps they may enter through. Seal these up.
- Place traps and bait – During the day, strategically place snap traps and rodenticide bait blocks in the attic. Focus near their harborages or entry points. Avoid handling dead rats yourself by wearing gloves.
- Use rat zappers if allowed in your area. These instant-kill traps are effective. Position them along rat runways.
- Stop feeding outdoors – Bird feeders, pet food, unsealed trash and other outdoor food sources can draw rats to your home. Remove them.
- Consider using a cat – Once rats have fled the attic, cats can be an effective long term deterrent from re-entering. Just ensure they can’t access bait.
- Seal, seal, seal – After the infestation is cleared, permanentaly seal up any possible re-entry holes with steel wool, copper mesh, wood, metal or concrete.
Eradicating rats from an attic or walls is challenging but vital for preventing ongoing damage and contamination in a home. Enlist a professional exterminator to help.
Rat Prevention Tips
Preventing black rats starts with proactive exclusion and sanitation:
- Trim back trees and branches at least 3 feet from home. Rats are good climbers.
- Clear clutter, woodpiles, junk and hiding spots near home exterior.
- Seal all possible entry points with steel wool, copper mesh, concrete, metal or wood. Use weather-resistant materials outdoors.
- Install door sweeps and weather seals around all doors. Check windows for gaps.
- Keep pet food dishes indoors and pickup any fallen bird food outside.
- Use sealed metal trash cans with tight fitting lids. Pick up fallen trash promptly.
- Clean up ripe or fallen fruit/berries from gardens quickly.
- Inspect for rodents monthly. Set snap traps outdoors at first signs.
- If neighboring properties are overgrown or abandoned, rats may shelter there. Politely let neighbors know.
Excluding and starving rats is most effective. Make your home as rat-proof as possible. Monitor for signs monthly.
FAQs About Eliminating Rats
Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about removing rats:
What smells deter rats? Peppermint oil, ammonia, predator urine or even mothballs may deter rats but aren’t foolproof. Eliminating food sources and sealing entry points works better.
How long until rats die after eating poison? Rat poison takes 2-6 days to kill rats after ingested. Their bodies often die in hidden, inaccessible places once poisoned. Avoid DIY rat poisons.
What time of day are rats most active? Rats are nocturnal and most active at night. Setting traps and bait stations in the evening increases success.
How do exterminators get rid of rats in walls? They inspect carefully to find entry holes. Traps and bait blocks are secured inside wall voids. Holes are sealed to prevent re-entry later.
Do Dryer Sheets repel rats? Some claim scented dryer sheets keep rats away if placed around nesting areas. However, exclusion and removing food sources are much more reliable deterrents.
How long can a rat live without food? Rats can survive a remarkably long time without food – up to 3 or 4 weeks. They become desperate and aggressive when starving.
Where do rats go when they die? Rats often die in hidden, inaccessible spaces after ingesting poisons. Professionals will remove and properly dispose of any rat carcasses found on your property.
Call Texas Bug Control Today
Don’t wait if you suspect black rats around your home. Texas Bug Control offers thorough, humane rat control and exclusion services throughout Central Texas. Our certified technicians can accurately identify rats, locate nesting sites, remove infestations and rat-proof your home fully.
We emphasize prevention and exclusionary repairs to keep new rats from ever invading. For the fastest response and highest quality rat control services, call Texas Bug Control today!
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