How to Spot a Rat Infestation: 10 Telltale Signs to Look out For


January 20, 2019 - Brian Reynolds

Did you know that 37 percent of Americans have noticed the presence of a rodent in their home in the last year? Nobody wants to think about dealing with a rat infestation, but there is a possibility that it can happen. And, the sooner you can identify the signs of an infestation, the sooner you can take action and get rid of the pests. Not sure how to spot an infestation? Keep reading. Listed below are ten signs that you’re dealing with a rat infestation in your home.

rat poking out from a stack of books

Rat Droppings

One of the most common signs of a rat infestation is the presence of rat droppings in your home. Rats can produce up to 40 droppings each night. You’ll usually find these droppings in concentrated piles. The appearance of the droppings will vary depending on the type of rat in your home. Brown rat droppings tend to be dark brown in color. They have a tapered, spindle shape and resemble a large grain of rice. Roof rat droppings, on the other hand, are darker in color. They’re also pointed on both ends.

Smudges and Dark Marks on the Walls

If you are dealing with a rat infestation in your home, you’ll likely notice the presence of smudges and dark marks on your walls. This is because rats tend to have established routes that they’ll use for traveling through your home. When rats travel along these routes, the dirt and grease from their bodies and tails will leave behind dark smudges and stains.

Teeth Marks

There’s also a good chance you’ll notice teeth marks on objects around your home if it is, indeed, infested with rats. Some objects that often get chewed include:

  • Wires
  • Cables
  • Baseboards
  • Door frames
  • Inside of cabinets

You might also notice teeth marks in packages, like cereal boxes, that contain food. Rats will chew through these packages in order to get to the food. Rats’ teeth marks are usually about 1/8 of an inch long. If you notice smaller teeth marks than this, you’re probably dealing with a mouse infestation instead.

Rat Nests

If you have a rat infestation, you’ll probably find rat nests in your attic, crawl space, or other out-of-site locations — these are areas rats love to set up a shop. What do rat nests look like? They’re usually comprised of soft items, like shredded paper, attic insulation, cardboard, and string. If you find small piles of these items in your home or around the perimeter, there’s a good chance you also have rats running around.

Rat Holes

Brown rats have a tendency to dig holes that serve as shelters, nesting grounds, and food storage spaces. If you find that holes have been dug around your property, rats might be the culprit. Other rats may also chew round holes in the walls of your home. These holes will be round and are typically about the size of a quarter. If they were chewed by rats, the edges of the holes will be ragged and rough, too.

Footprints and Tail Marks

In dusty or dirty areas of your home, you might notice the presence of tiny rat footprints. You might also be able to see trails where their tails were dragged through the dirt. You’re most likely to find these marks along your baseboards, in the corners of your home, or near food sources (such as the pantry). You might even be able to follow these marks to determine the entrance and exit points the rats are using.

Strange Dog Behavior

Has your dog been acting strange lately? Barking at the walls, pawing at the space under the refrigerator, whimpering, or getting upset about what seems like nothing? If you’ve noticed strange behavior from your dog lately, a rat infestation might be the problem. Dogs have heightened senses and often notice signs of trouble before we do ourselves. Keep in mind that dogs are highly sensitive to many of the roughly 35 different diseases that rats can carry. If you notice strange behavior and suspect a rat infestation, it’s important to call an exterminator right away to keep your dog safe.

A Strange Smell in the House

Rat urine has a distinct, musky smell. If you’re dealing with a very large rat infestation, there’s a good chance you will notice the smell of urine. It will be especially prominent in the locations in which rats typically build nests — attics, crawlspaces, etc. You might notice rat urine stains, too. They’ll likely be located in the same places in which you found rat droppings. If you can’t see them in regular light, you might want to try using a special UV light to figure out exactly where the smell is coming from.

Scratching or Squeaking Noises

You might be able to hear rats in your home, too. You may hear the scratching of their nails or their squeaking as they run through the walls, in your attic, or across your roof. Rats are nocturnal. Because of this, you’ll likely hear these noises more often in the evenings when they’re more alert.

Burrows

Finally, you might also notice rat burrows around your home. Rats tend to burrow and create pathways in and around your home.

The following are some common locations in which you might notice these borrows:

  • In compost heaps
  • Under the deck or garden shed
  • In the garage
  • Under bushes

In addition to finding burrows in these locations, you might notice worn down paths in the grass around your home, too.

Do You Have a Rat Infestation?

After reading through the common signs of a rat infestation, do you think you have one in your home? If so, you need to call an exterminator right away. At Reynolds Pest Management, we’ve been helping Florida residents live pest-free for nearly thirty years. Contact us today to learn more about our services or for a free estimate. Worried about the cost of extermination? We also offer affordable prices and great financing options to help you pay for the service. You can apply on our website and get instant information and find a plan that works for you and your budget.

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