A rat infestation is not only gross, but is also a dangerous nuisance. Left unchecked, they can do major damage to your house by gnawing at home furnishing, internal structures, insulation, and wiring. Beyond that, they’re known to carry more than 70 diseases—some of which can be easily transmitted to humans.
Here in Phoenix, homeowners most often deal with roof rat infestations on their property. However, whether you have roof rats or other types of rodents, keep reading. We’ll review 6 rodent control tips for dealing with a rat infestation in your home or on your property—and when you need to call in the experts here at Arizona’s Best Choice Pest & Termite Services.
Do you have a rat infestation?
Have reason to think you might have roof rats or other types of rodents in your home? Check out our latest infographic to learn more about the best ways to deal with a rodent infestation. Then, call us for a free pest inspection here in Phoenix and Casa Grande.
How do you prevent a rat infestation?
The key to preventing rats from moving in is to deny them shelter and sustenance. Let’s review how you can go about making your home an undesirable place for rats to live.
Denying rats food or water
Rats are hardy survivors who can eat just about anything to survive. This has allowed them to cohabitate alongside humans for thousands of years. Completely denying rats access to food is difficult. However, that doesn’t mean you have to make it easy for them, either. There are two common sources of food here in the Valley that these rodents just love:
- Fallen citrus fruit: Here in the Valley, we’re famous for our backyard citrus trees that flourish due to our warm climate. Yet, fallen citrus is a highly nutritious and appealing food for rats.
- Outdoor cat and dog food: As it turns out, the food that your dog and cat love is also loved by most rats. When food bowls are placed outdoors, it’s an easy target for a hit-and-run. Think of this as a rat drive-thru lane.
By picking up fallen citrus and removing pet food as soon as your pets are done eating, you have eliminated two easy sources of food for rodents. Rats are opportunists: if they have to work hard to find food around your home, chances are that they’ll pick an easier target somewhere else. After all, the Valley has no shortage of citrus trees.
Denying rats shelter
Rats also need a place to hunker down where they’ll be protected from predators and can raise their young. Roof rats, infamously, use overhanging branches to get onto the roof and then into the attic through its weep holes and vents. Other rats use dark, quiet backyard spaces—piled lumber, neglected storage sheds, and old sitting vehicles—as their base of operations. Overgrown bushes and shrubs can also present ample shelter for rats. Rats are nocturnal: give them a place to hide during the day, and they’ll be content to come out at night looking for food.
So, if you want to prevent an infestation, deny these rodents safety and shelter. Clean up your backyard and storage sheds so that there’s nowhere left to hide. Trim down bushes to deny rats shade. In your roof, make sure that your weep holes and vents are sealed with strong wiring that allows air and moisture to continue moving, but blocks rats from getting inside.
What are the warning signs of an infestation?
Here are some of the potential signs of a rat infestation:
- Sightings: In most cases, a single rat isn’t a one-off. It could mean there are more rats around your property. Rats do their best to avoid humans and their pets, so outdoor cameras—especially motion-sensing ones—are ideal for catching them in the act.
- Half-eaten citrus: If you notice that your fallen citrus is all half-eaten, it could be a sign of rodent activity in your yard. Some birds also consume citrus fruit, but rarely with the voraciousness of a family of rats.
- Pets on alert: Your dog or cat has better hearing and a sense of smell that you do. If your pets are acting strangely and have their attention fixated on the ceiling of your home, it could be something they sense in your attic.
- Noises: Of course, not all rat-related sounds are beyond the range of human hearing. As rats tussle and scratch around in an attic, you can often hear it on a quiet night. Listen carefully, and you may even hear the telltale squeaks of rats or mice.
What should you do if you have rats?
Call in the experts
A rat infestation is rarely solved by a do-it-yourself approach. In fact, the most effective pest control strategy with a rat infestation is to call in the rodent control experts at Arizona’s Best Choice Pest & Termite Services. We have experience in removing and eliminating rats in a safe, quick, and effective manner.
True pest control professionals, our team knows all of the effective techniques that can get rid of your rat infestation once and for all.
Have your home professionally sealed
Home sealing is an effective way of blocking pests—including rodents—from getting into your home. Home sealing is especially helpful with rodents because, as resourceful as they can be at times, there are only so many spaces a rat can fit through to get into your home. Contrast that with another common Phoenix pest, the Arizona Bark Scorpion, which can squeeze into spaces the width of a credit card.
By having a pest technician seal under windows and doors, replace mesh at weep holes, and advise you on other steps, you can block easy access to your home for rats. Denied easy access, food, and shelter, rats will probably eventually move on.
Eliminate their food sources
One of the preferred tactics of generals and commanders in a war is to cut off the enemy’s supply lines. You can also apply this tactic in your war against rats. Eliminating the food source will impact the desire of the rats to hang around in your house.
You should also avoid giving the rats a reason to stay around your house and dump all of your accumulated garbage immediately. Also, you should consider placing a lockable lid on the garbage can. This will prevent easy access for rats to their food source.
Clean your home
Trash and clutter are the best friends of rats living in your home. They love clutter of all kinds, as it provides them the perfect hiding place and it’s warm bedding to bring back to nests. Start by de-cluttering your home. Make sure that the kitchen, attic, closets, and the basement are clean.
What should you not do?
Don’t adopt a cat thinking it will solve your rat problems
Yes, cats are great hunters and the natural predator of rats, mice, and other rodents. The symbiotic relationship between cats and humans over the course of human history is in part built on the cat’s ability to keep our grain silos and homes free of mice.
However, cats that catch mice and rats—known as “mousers”—live far shorter lives than those that don’t. There’s a reason for that. Mice and rats are disease-carriers, so when your cat catches a rat, there’s a chance of infection. Or the passage of ticks. Or for the cat to ingest poison that the rat has consumed at some point. Plus, a cat will only be able to do so much, as rats in walls—where they nest and produce successive generations—are out of their reach.
If you adopt a cat, do so because you’re looking for a lovable companion. Leave the “mouser” duties to a professional pest control technician.
Don’t use cheap rat poison
The cheapest way to deal with a rat problem is to use rat poison. However, this is not an effective way to eliminate rats from inside the house. It rarely actually solves the problem, and can often make things worse. In fact, apart from the horrible smell, it can pose a health concern as rats can die in hard to reach areas. We don’t think we need to elaborate on how horrible that can be.
If you do need to clean up a dead rat, be sure to follow the safety guidelines in this article. Most disease transmission between rats and humans occurs when a homeowner touches or gets near a dead rat without proper protection.