Have a rat problem? Learn all about these animals, including the many different species of mice you may find near your home or business and your options to eradicate and prevent them.

RAT FACTS

Wild rats live off man and give nothing beneficial in return. Rats spread disease, damage structures and contaminate food and feed. Rats damage one-fifth of the world's food crop each year. The real damage is in contamination. Two rats shed more than one million body hairs each year and a single rat leaves 25,000 droppings in a year — underscoring the importance of effective rat traps.

Norway rats are found throughout the United States while roof rats primarily inhabit southeastern, Gulf Coast and southwestern states.

Why Get Rid of Rats?

Rats transmit Murine typhus fever, rat bite fever, salmonellae or bacterial food poisoning, Weils disease or leptospirosis and trichinosis, melioidosid, brucellosis, tuberculosis, pasteurellosis, rickettsial diseases, and viral diseases such as foot-and-mouth disease. Norway rats can also carry the rabies virus.

Living and Behavior Habits

Rats memorize their environment by body and muscle movement alone. They become so ingrained by body movements that when objects are removed from their territory, rats will continue to move around them as if the objects were still there.

Many times roof rats live in the upper stories of buildings, while Norway rats occupy the basement and first floor of the same building.

Rats visit fewer food sites than mice. However, rats eat much more at each site than do mice.

SIGNS OF RATS

Rat Droppings

Rats constantly leave droppings. Fresh droppings are dark in color and soft in texture, but after three days they harden and lose the dark color.

Following the Trail

Rats always travel the same runways and leave "smudge marks" - a buildup of dirt and oil from their fur - along walls, pipes, gnawed openings and beams and rafters. Rats keep indoor runways, or well-used paths free of cobwebs, debris and dust. Outside, runways appear as narrow paths through vegetation.

Footprints and tail drags can be seen in dusty locations. Use tracking dusts such as talcum or flour to determine if rodents are frequenting certain areas.

Large Chew Marks

Gnaw marks are a sure sign of rats. On wood, the older the gnawing, the darker the wood.

Pet Behavior

If dogs or cats become excited for no apparent reason, rats may be moving about in wall voids or ceilings. Rats make sounds when climbing, clawing and moving.

HOW TO TRAP RATS

Rats can be difficult to capture and get rid of, but knowing their habits and behavior make your pest control efforts more successful. If you’re wondering how to trap rats, keep in mind these tips:

Have Patience

Neophobia, or new-object-fear, makes rats extremely cautious about changes in their territory. It takes several days before a rat will accept a new object as part of its territory.

Where to Place Rat Traps

Using rat traps, such as the glue traps or the effective Big Snap-E® Rat Trap, has several advantages over poisons, as no hazardous chemicals are used and it permits the trapper to see success. It also eliminates rat death in inaccessible locations, which can create major odor problems.

The best places to set traps are:

- Behind objects

- In dark corners

- Anywhere a rat might run for cover

- Wherever rat runways, droppings and gnawing are evident

Traps should be set that the rat, in following its natural course, will pass directly over the trigger. In setting a trap along a wall, the trap should extend from the wall at right angles, with the trigger end nearly touching the wall.

Rat traps can be used unbaited by placing them directly in the path of rodents with the trigger situated to intercept rats coming from either direction. Expanded treadle-type triggers like the Big Snap-E® make this an efficient method.

Rats may spring traps without getting caught. If a trap is found sprung but with no rat caught, you can be sure you will never catch it with a trap again.

Know the Best Rat Bait

Bait for Norway rats should be small pieces of hot dogs, bacon or other prepared meats secured tightly to the trigger. Baits must be replaced every day or so to keep them fresh. Peanut butter also works well.

An abundance of food makes trapping more difficult. Eliminate as many of the accessible sources of food as possible.

Human or dead rat odors on traps do not cause a reduction in effectiveness.

RAT CONTROL

With the proper prevention techniques, you won’t have to worry about trapping rats. Reduce your chances of encountering rats by following these tips:

Find Trouble Spots

The most important signs of rats are burrows (especially at the edges on concrete slabs and along foundation walls), droppings, tracks, runways, gnaw marks, a foul odor, rat-damaged food packages and live or dead rats.

Seal Openings that Allow Rats to Enter

Rats can enter any opening that is 1/2 inch wide. Seal any cracks and holes in foundation walls. All openings for water pipes, electric wires, cables, vents and drain spouts should be tightly sealed. Windows should have tight-fitting screens.

Eliminate Food Sources

Don't store garbage outside in plastic bags. Don't let bird seed accumulate on the ground, or leave pet food outside overnight. Don't leave ripe fruit or vegetables under trees or in the garden to decay. Don't put food scraps in compost piles.

Eliminate Rat Nesting Sites

Remove piles of debris, bricks or boards. Stack lumber and firewood at least 12 inches off the ground so rats cannot burrow underneath. Do not stack any material against the outside walls.

TRIVIA

Water doesn't stop Norway rats. They can swim as far as 1/2 mile in open water, dive through water plumbing traps and travel in sewer lines, even against strong water currents.

A rat can drop down 50 feet without injury. What's more, rats have a 36-inch vertical jump and a 48-inch horizontal jump. Rats can also scale rough vertical surfaces and walk along thin ropes and wires. Roof rats are agile climbers and can shinny the outside of three inch diameter pipes or any size pipe within three inches of a wall. Rats are capable of climbing the inside of vertical pipes that are 1 1/2 to 4 inches in diameter

Since rats can fit through openings that are as small as 1/2 inch in diameter, it is very difficult to rat-proof a building.

Worldwide, there are over 52. There are a few different species of rats in the United States. The four most common rat species found in North America are the Norway rat, roof rat, woodrat, and marsh rice rat.

Also known as the “brown rat,” the Norway rat is one of the most prolific rat species. It is found on every continent except Antarctica and is the most dominant rat in Europe and North America. They thrive in urban environments. Despite its name, the Norway rat is believed to originate from China.

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What You Need To Know About The Norway Rat

  • What do Norway rats look like?

    • Black or brown coloring

    • Gray or brown belly fur

    • 15-20 inches long (head to tail)

    • Short ears

  • What do house mice eat?

    • Just about anything

    • Plants, insects, eggs, and even small animals (e.g., birds)

  • Where do house mice live?

    • Located throughout the U.S.(Northeast, Midwest, and Southwest regions)

What You Need To Know About Norway Rat Infestations

  • What are the signs of a Norway rat infestation?

    • Sightings at dusk or right before dawn (main feeding periods)

    • Chewed up wires, books, papers, insulation, and cardboard (nesting material)

    • Gnawing marks

    • Rodent runways (dark worn paths along walls, piping, and ledges)

    • Pattering (tapping) noises

    • Dropping (¼ inch and pointed at both ends)

    • Urine odors

  • Why do Norway rats invade my home or business?

    • Availability of food, water, shelter, and nesting materials

  • How do I get rid of Norway rats?

    • Locate and seal their entry points with caulk

    • Clean up food crumbs and keep food stored away

    • Place pet food in sealed containers

    • Cut back shrubberies and branches away from the house

    • Set Kness rat traps alongside walls

Tips To Prevent Norway Rat Infestations

    • Use Kness rat traps

    • Practice sanitary habits with food storage and cleaning around the house

Known as the black rat, ship rat, or house rat, this particular species can be found worldwide as it is a passive traveler (hitching rides on ships and transports). The roof rat prefers forested areas, making dens in trees and places off the ground. When interacting with human environments, they will make homes on the upper floors and roofs of structures.

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What You Need To Know About The Roof Rat

  • What do roof rats look like?

    • Black to brownish color

    • Light gray underside

    • 5-7 inches long

    • Long ears

  • What do roof rats eat?

    • Seeds, flowers, insects, leaves, fruit, and even small animals (e.g., birds)

    • Are very fond of pet food

  • Where do roof rats live?

    • Their range commonly extends to coastal areas of the U.S.

    • Thrives in more tropical regions

What You Need To Know About Roof Rat Infestations

  • What are the signs of a roof rat infestation?

    • Sightings at dusk or right before dawn (main feeding periods)

    • Chewed up wires, books, papers, insulation, and cardboard (nesting material)

    • Gnawing marks

    • Rodent runways (dark worn paths along walls, piping, and ledges)

    • Pattering (tapping) noises

    • Dropping (¼ inch and pointed at both ends)

    • Urine odors

  • Why do deer mice invade my home or business?

    • Availability of food, water, shelter, and nesting materials

  • How do I get rid of deer mice?

    • Locate and seal their entry points with caulk

    • Clean up food crumbs and keep food stored away

    • Cut back shrubberies and branches away from the house

    • Set Kness rat traps alongside walls

    • Store items in plastic containers rather than cardboard boxes

Tips To Prevent Roof Rat Infestations

    • Use Kness rat traps

    • Practice sanitary habits with food storage and cleaning around the house

The woodrat can be quite a nuisance; this species is a nest builder and a collector of objects. More specifically, they like shiny objects (e.g., coins, silverware) and will drop what they’re carrying to take a new item that they want. This behavior is also why they’re called a packrat.

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What You Need To Know About Woodrat

  • What do woodrats look like?

    • Grayish-brown color

    • Long tail

    • Large ears

    • Big black eyes

  • What do western harvest mice eat?

    • Seeds, nuts, berries, insects, and small animals (e.g., birds)

  • Where do western harvest mice live?

    • Commonly lives in the western part of North America

    • The range extends from arctic Canada to New Mexico

What You Need To Know About Woodrat Infestations

  • What are the signs of a western woodrat infestation?

    • Sightings at dusk or right before dawn (main feeding periods)

    • Chewed up wires, books, papers, insulation, and cardboard (nesting material)

    • Gnawing marks

    • Rodent runways (dark worn paths along walls, piping, and ledges)

    • Pattering (tapping) noises

    • Dropping (¼ inch and pointed at both ends)

    • Urine odors

  • Why do western harvest mice invade my home or business?

    • Availability of food, water, shelter, and nesting materials

  • How do I get rid of western harvest mice?

    • Locate and seal their entry points with caulk

    • Clean up food crumbs and keep food stored away

    • Place pet food in sealed containers

    • Cut back shrubberies and branches away from the house

    • Set Kness rat traps alongside walls

    • Store items in plastic containers rather than cardboard boxes

Tips To Prevent Woodrat Infestations

    • Use Kness rat traps

    • Practice sanitary habits with food storage and cleaning around the house

This nocturnally active rat thrives in marsh and swamp environments. They make nests out of grass. Marsh rice rats are very adept swimmers and will often seek out water to hide away from predators.

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What You Need To Know About The Marsh Rice Rat

  • What does the marsh rice rat look like?

    • Gray to grayish-brown coloring

    • The head is a lighter color than the rest of the body

    • Off-white underbelly

    • Length can be up to 12 inches

  • Where does the marsh rice rat live?

    • Plants (marsh grasses), fungus, rice, insects, snails, fish, and small crustaceans

  • Where does marsh rice rat live?

    • Found along the Gulf Coast, from Florida to Texas

What You Need To Know About Marsh Rice Rat Infestations

  • What are the signs of a marsh rice rat infestation?

    • Sightings at dusk or right before dawn (main feeding periods)

    • Chewed up wires, books, papers, insulation, and cardboard (nesting material)

    • Gnawing marks

    • Rodent runways (dark worn paths along walls, piping, and ledges)

    • Pattering (tapping) noises

    • Dropping (¼ inch and pointed at both ends)

    • Urine odors

  • Why do marsh rice rats invade my home or business?

    • Availability of food, water, shelter, and nesting materials

  • How do I get rid of marsh rice rats?

    • Locate and seal their entry points with caulk

    • Clean up food crumbs and keep food stored away

    • Cut back shrubberies and branches away from the house

    • Set Kness rat traps alongside walls

    • Store items in plastic containers rather than cardboard boxes

Tips To Prevent Marsh Rice Rat Infestations

    • Use Kness rat traps

    • Practice sanitary habits with food storage and cleaning around the house

To take care of your rat problems, Kness has a full line of control solutions for you to utilize.

Available from Kness

Stick-All® Rat Glue Trap Product Stick-All® Rat Glue Trap

It's a sticky solution to a sticky problem. The Stick-All Glue Trap is pre-scented to attract multiple rats, snakes, mice and insects.

View Stick-All® Rat Glue Traps

Available from Kness

Big Snap-E® Rat Trap Products Big Snap-E® Rat Trap

The Big Snap-E® is truly a better rat trap. Escape proof and you never touch another rat.

View Big Snap-E® Rat Trap