Now that fall is upon us here in the Pacific Northwest, it is also the season for animals of all kinds to invade your home. Don’t be surprised to see an increase of spiders appearing in and around your residence, and be aware that rats are not far behind. While all animals are a nuisance, by and far the biggest threat to your home and family is a possible rat infestation.
Being Prepared for Rat Season
As a homeowner, you may not know what to do to prepare for animal season. With over two decades of reputable service and locations throughout the PNW, Clean Crawls is the recognized leader in professional animal exclusion throughout the Northwest. Read on to learn some of what our experience has taught us about what attracts rats, as well as how to discourage them from moving into your home.
Conditions In and Around the Home that Attract Pest
Knowing the reasons animals are likely to take up residence in your home is the first step in animal prevention. Here are several conditions that can lead to a possible animal infestation:
- Crawl Space Gaps: If there are gaps around your crawl space, animals of all types can gain safe entry under your house. Once there, they will cause extensive damage to your insulation and even your vapor barrier. Rats are known to chew through heating ducts, as well as the plastic vapor barrier and electrical wiring – next thing you know they have soiled and contaminated the space and gained entry into your home.
- Soffit Vents Are Missing Or Damaged: There is no easier way for bats and birds to enter into your attic than missing or damaged vents. The same goes for Roof Rats, who bring odors, damages, and health hazards.
- Clogged Gutters: When your gutters are clogged, water will overflow and run down the side of your home. The resulting decay is a big attraction for animals like rats.
- Downspouts Are Disconnected: If water is not draining properly all the way to the ground, it can collect on and in the exterior walls of the home, creating another situation where excessive moisture and decay will attract rats.
Why Do Rats Thrive in Such Conditions?
It is a common misconception that a home must have poor sanitary conditions and be filled with garbage and filth to attract rats. While conditions such as these will certainly invite a full blown rat infestation, discovering rats in your home does not mean you or your home are unsanitary or dirty. Rats require three necessities in order to thrive: shelter, food, and water. Merely having pet food and waste from your outdoor pets can attract rats.
Once rats are attracted to a home where food and water sources are available, they immediately begin to seek shelter inside so they can begin nesting. Often this is in areas around the home where there is heavy foliage, or through small holes around the home’s exterior that are an open invitation for the rats to enter inside. Because rats want an environment to nest in that is dry and warm they like to congregate in your home’s crawl space.
Once inside, rats begin doing things that are extremely detrimental to your health. Not only do they leave behind urine (which saturates your insulation), but feces all over the place, as well as blood from menstrual cycles as they breed and have babies. The population can quickly skyrocket, which compounds the effect and the smells draw even more rodents to the area. It becomes a city of rats on the rise!
Rats climb well, and like spaces that are high off the ground, including the ductwork in your crawl space or attic, which they use like highways to travel around quickly and expand their infestation. Your attic is another area where rats tend to build their nests. Your downspouts and any tree branches or wires close to your home provide ample opportunities for the rats to survey your home, both high and low, to seek out entry places.
As you survey your home for possible entry points for rats, remember they only need an opening about the size of a quarter to enter through. This hole can be in the crawl space or attic, exterior walls, or even in pipes or vents. Outdoors, you’ll want to stay away from planting ivy (which is a food source for rats), remove bird feeders, and keep your grill area as clean as possible. Keep bushes and trees at least two feet or more away from the exterior of the home.
Prevent Rat Infestations
The surest and most effective way to deal with rat problems is to keep them out of your home to begin with. This requires taking the necessary measures to keep them from being attracted to your home right from the start. Repair vents, cover holes in your attic or crawl space, trim bushes and trees away from your house. Make sure not to leave pet food outside, and don't let water pool around your house.
However, what if you discover that rats have already invaded your home? Indoors, you can begin attempting to remove rats with traps, either the snapping kind or electronic ones. To prevent future infestations and ensure your insulation remains intact, we recommended Cascade Pest Control, our pest management provider.