Rats inside or outside your home
There are two species of rat which commonly inhabit Northern Europe – the Brown Rat (Rattus norvegicus) and the Black Rat (Rattus rattus). All treatments within Sefton have been for the Brown Rat.
Rats are typically distinguished from mice by their visible size difference, they can grow up to 40 cm in length and commonly between 350 – 500g in weight. Their thick brown/grey fur can make them seem bigger especially in the winter.
Their preferred habitat is underground, which has lead them to make extensive use of the sewers as network of tunnels to utilize and occupy. Due to their ability to tunnel they can easily use defects to leave the sewers and access the outside world in a search for food, nesting sites or shelter and warmth.
Rats regularly transmit salmonella, due to their contact with sewers and its contents, and Leptospirosis (Weils Disease) which is a bacterial infection passed through the urine of rats. They also can potentially support many parasites which can also be zoonotic (harmful to humans).
Being rodents, they have powerful incisor’s that they need to keep ‘at a manageable length’ by regular gnawing, which can result in them causing a lot of damage in a property if untreated. Like mice they are predominantly nocturnal however due to their size they are less likely to go unnoticed within a building unless it is unoccupied.
Given advantageous circumstances (plenty of food and water with no predators) they can breed all year long and numbers can expand rapidly. They will generally have about 7 young in a litter and can reproduce between 3 and 6 times per year. Each surviving pup can reach sexual maturity with 3 months.
Unlike a lot of animals, as a group, they will help look after sick and injured members of the group.
Of course humans and rats have lived side by side for centuries despite our best efforts to eradicate them. This is because of their adaptability and ability to profit from our excesses and to take advantage where ever possible.
Access into properties is usually through a defect which will require repair, however the condition of the outside of you premises will either encourage or discourage rodents into the vicinity.
Carefully consider what you want to store close to your house, and ask yourself these questions.
- Will it attract either rats or mice?
- Does it contain a food source?
- Will it create a safe environment or shelter for them once they locate it?