Evidence of Rats in the Home or Attic
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There are a multitude of ways to identify if you are dealing with rats rather than a different animal, fortunately, this makes it easier to get a head start on the issue which is important when dealing with rats! Unfortunately, with rats being so cautious and shy, you more than likely won’t be able to physically see a rat unless the infestation has already reached a point where they are in your living space. While you’re probably happy you don’t have to see these rodents, this also means you have to use alternative methods to determine that you are dealing with rodents.
One of the very first indicators that you may notice is the sounds that rodents can make when they are scurrying through your attic or in your walls. You may notice a light scratching noise, caused by their claws as they scurry along the attic, and since rats are nocturnal you may hear this more frequently at night when you're attempting to sleep. Since they are busy running about, the sound will move also, so you may hear it going from one end of your house to the other, or concentrated in one room but from one side of the ceiling to the other. While the sound may not be loud (like it would if you had a raccoon), it is often very obnoxious and has been known to disturb sleep- which can get annoying really fast.
Are you noticing that the food in your kitchen looks… different? Food that's laying around might go missing, or chunks may have been removed from it, or on a less extreme note maybe it just LOOKS like it has been messed with. Even food that may still be in package could have been chewed through. Rodents will utilize their sharp teeth to chew through all kinds of barriers, like plastic or cardboard, especially if they know that there is food inside of them. Normally, they will eat some of the food while still in the kitchen and carry leftovers into the nesting area for others that were not on the scavenging trip. This is often one of the most troubling things to find, since you now have the image of their grimy paws all over your favorite foods.
Rodents will chew and gnaw on pretty much anything, this is to dull their long sharp front teeth. If they are not constantly dulled it could eventually end up killing the rat. So, if you're noticing little chew marks on wood beams (which are perfect for dulling) you are likely dealing with a rat. You may also notice chew marks on electrical wires, which can end up being potentially dangerous if they are able to make it through to the actual wiring.
You can also identify rats by the droppings that they leave behind. Rats will leave behind hundreds of tiny droppings, the amount of feces you find may be an excellent determiner of about how many rats you may be dealing with. The droppings often look like brown grains of rice, like all rodents, however rat droppings will occasionally be a bit larger. Typically the Norway Rat leaves 3 quarter of an inch droppings, and Roof rats will leave half of an inch droppings. As messy as rodents are, they use the “latrine system” so the droppings will often be grouped into a specific area, like in the corner of wherever they are nesting.