There is a big misconception people have over pests and the need for pest control…
With the onset of autumn and the arrival of winter looming rodents usually become the pest concern of the season. This often leaves us wondering “How do I know if I have rats in my house?”. We have put together a useful guide of signs to be on the lookout for. From the very obvious gnaw marks to the more subtle signs see the visual guide below.
1. Rat Droppings
Rat droppings are a clear sign of activity. Fresh droppings or faeces is darker in colour and firm to the touch. As the rat faeces dry out it becomes grey and will crumble easily if touched. Please be cautious when handling possible rat faeces and as a precaution rather wear gloves and cover your face. There will be more droppings where the rodents nest or feed, so inspect the area around any droppings you might find to establish how recent any activity might have been.
A good place to look for rat droppings is in any space that is warm and offers protection against the elements such as ceilings, wood piles and in areas where humans go less frequently.
2. Gnaw Marks
Rodents eat their way through most surfaces including but not limited to wood, plastic, some types of concrete such as cinder blocks, soft metals like aluminium sheeting, bricks and wires. This means if they are motivated enough they can find a way in. Have a walk around your house and look for any gnaw marks. In contrast to the droppings lighter gnaw marks are usually fresher and older ones tend to become darker with age.
If you have any sort of open cabling (including inside your vehicles) remember to check your cables for gnaw marks. In the image below you will see how rats can gnaw through the plastic coating on electric cables. This offers not only a threat of electric shock but also fire and other associated risks.
If you encounter any of these areas, especially with cables, please ensure that they are repaired as soon as possible to prevent long term damage and possible injury.
Your cats and dogs may be one of the earliest detectors of a rodent infestation. If they show excited interest in an area, that they previously had no interest in, it may be because they can smell rodent visitors seeking permanent refuge. If you notice excitement take a flashlight and inspect the area of their concern. You may be able to detect a faint whiff of a foul-smelling odour. The longer the rats have been there, the more intense the smell will be.
4. Track Marks & Rat Runways
If you suspect rodent activity in your home, their runways and tracks are likely to be distinctive, fading as time passes. Tracks can be detected with a flashlight or a blacklight held at an angle towards the area of concern. You may see smudges, urine stains or droppings. Smudge marks are a black to grey colour. These can normally be seen nearby rodent entry points, such as pipes, holes, or up the sides of certain walls. Smudge marks is a sure sign that rats are very active in an area, as this mark is a buildup of their oil from their fur that is rubbed against the object they travelling on or going through on a regular basis
If you want to test your suspicions you can cover the area of concern with a thin layer of baby powder or flour. If there is activity, it will be very easy to see in the powder.
5. Rat Nests
Rodents use many forms of material that they can find to create their nests such as shredded paper, fabric, or dried plant matter to make their nests. If these areas are found and have any of the other signs of current presence (fresh droppings, gnawing, odour, or tracks) it is likely that there is still an infestation in your home.
What to do if you have confirmed a rat infestation?
Managing rodents can be quite a challenge. Because of the risk posed by rodents in terms of health concerns it may best to get a professional involved. You can read more about our Rodent Service here: https://flickpest.co.za/rodent-pest-control/