A hot, dry Summer can often lead to an explosion in the rat population. Once the weather starts cooling in April/May, there are huge numbers of rodents looking for somewhere warm and dry to spend the winter. The inviting warmth and food smells of our homes are just what rats are looking for. We take a look at how to avoid them setting up at your place and how to get rid of them if they have already made themselves at home. 

Often you see signs of rats before you see one, if you ever see one at all. They are notorious for carrying diseases, damaging property and contaminating food. Rats will chew just about anything. Partly to trim their long teeth and partly to gather bedding for their nests. Walls, doors, books, furniture, insulation, nothing is safe. They will also chew on wiring, creating a serious fire risk.

Once they set up a nest, they don’t usually stray more than 40 meters from it, so if you see one, or signs of it, you know its nest (and more rats) are not far away.

What can homeowners do to keep the pesky rodents at a distance?

1) How to Spot if I Have Rats?

  • Rat droppings are the biggest giveaway. A rat can produce 40 droppings a night. Rat droppings are brown and tapered, about the size and shape of a large grain of rice.
  • Scratching noises in the roof or scurrying sounds under the floor or decking.
  • Damage to skirting boards, wires and cables and food packaging are a tell-tale sign. As rat teeth are always growing they gnaw constantly on wood and plastic.
  • A rat nest is most likely to be behind appliances, in dark cupboards, or in any neglected corner.

If you have any suspicion, it is best to act fast.

2) I  Have a Rat Problem. What Can I do?

Helen Follas, a.k.a The Bug Lady, runs a pest control business in Auckland. She has laid out some guidelines for getting your rat problem under control.

First, if you suspect rats “ensure any food products are stored away in plastic lidded containers”. Then use Helen’s advice to get rid of them:

  • Apply poison bait into the ceiling cavity
  • Install rodent feeding stations to the exterior or interior if necessary  

“Rodent feeding stations are safe for children and pets as they are lockable. The bait is secure and cannot be removed by the rodent and carried back to the nest. Some homeowners purchase poisonous bait and put it behind the dishwasher or various hidden places. This is unsafe because a rat can drag it back to the nest and sometimes it is left in a vulnerable place like a pathway where a dog or child could eat it”.

3) How do I Avoid Future Rat Visitors?

Helen has advice on this too – “Trim large trees or vines back from the roof, any that are touching the roof is a clear pathway for them to walk right in. Even a few meters away from the roof, they can jump and easily slip under tiles or corrugated iron”.

“Repair any holes under the sink areas and block the gaps at the side of the garage door.”

If you find yourself with a rat problem you can’t handle yourself, or you are not up to trimming trees to keep them out, visit Builders Crack. Post your job and reviewed, reliable tradies like The Bug Lady will get in touch to do the job. .