The brown rat also known as the Norway, house, or sewer rat is dull brown in colour and measures between 12-1/2" and 17" (32 cm to 43 cm) from nose to tail. It has small, close-set ears, a blunt muzzle, and very sharp teeth.
Do rats cause damage?
Worldwide, rats are the most destructive pests known to man. Rats are a known source of many diseases affecting humans and domesticated animals. Rats contaminate food and cause extensive damage to buildings and equipment in warehouses, granaries, restaurants, and bakeries anywhere food is handled or stored. Rats will gnaw through wood and enlarge masonry openings to gain entrance into buildings. In the construction of their nests, rats destroy all types of materials and can cause fires by chewing through insulation on electrical wires.
Are rats hazardous to humans?
Yes. Rats are a serious hazard to public health. Aside from contaminating food with their droppings and urine, fleas from rats were responsible for spreading the bubonic plague. Today, such diseases as salmonella bacteria (food poisoning), leptospira (jaundice), and typhus are commonly spread by rats. Because of their unsanitary habits, secondary infections from rat bites can be serious and sometimes fatal. An infestation of rats must not be tolerated.
When are rats most common?
Rats are year-round pests. Under certain conditions, rats can survive outdoors during the winter, however activity and indoor migration increases as weather gets cooler and outdoor food and water sources decrease.
When am I most likely to see rats?
Rats are most active during the evening and remain so until the middle of the night. If food and water are scarce, or in the case of large infestations, rats become active during daylight hours.
Where do rats build nests?
Rats nest in any safe location near food and water. Outdoors, rats burrow into the ground. Indoors, nesting occurs in double walls, between ceilings and floors, in closed-in areas around worktops, and anywhere rubbish is allowed to accumulate.
What are their breeding habits?
The average life span of a rat is 18 months. Young are born about 22 days after mating and mature rapidly. Single females may have as many as 6 litters a year, averaging 6 to 14 young each. By 3 months of age, the young are independent and capable of reproduction. If not controlled, an infestation of rats will rapidly increase in numbers.
How can I tell if I have an infestation of rats?
Rat droppings near available food sources is the most common indication of an infestation. Evidence of gnawing, rub marks, tracks, burrows, nests, and damage to stored products are indications of the extent of an infestation.
What can l do to prevent an infestation of rats?
Rats will invade almost any business premises, however it is the presence of unsanitary conditions that encourages their activity. All goods must be stored in properly sealed containers and waste should be prevented from accumulating, or kept in containers with tight-fitting lids. Seal all openings to the outside, including wood around doors and windows; repair masonry and seal openings for utility lines, conduits, and drains.
Simple actions to help prevent problems with rats
- Rats love compost bins. They are warm and full of food. Place wire mesh (1cm x 1cm) under the base of your compost bin or even better put it on a concrete base to stop rats getting in under the bin.
- Keep rubbish in sealed bins with well fitting tops, and keep long grass to a minimum to reduce places for them to live.
- Maintain drains and inspection chambers – holes or broken drains allow rats to escape from sewers and drains.
- Inspect your house for any holes or faults in the brickwork. If the hole is not supposed to be there it needs to be repaired.
- Don't scatter food for birds in the garden. If you feed the birds, use a feed container or leave food down only for a short time for ground feeding