Rats are intelligent and resourceful rodents known for their exceptional adaptability to diverse environments. Agile and opportunistic, rats are characterised by their sharp incisors and long, hairless tails. In Australia, rats are considered troublesome pests and are feared by many – hardly surprising, considering that some rat species can grow to the size of a house cat!
Understanding the Common Rat Species
Sydney is home to several species of rats, each with its own distinct characteristics and behaviours. The two most commonly found species are the Norway rat (Rattus norvegicus) and the Roof rat (Rattus rattus). The Norway rat is the larger of the two, measuring about 18 to 30 centimetres in body length, with a tail that adds an additional 15 to 20 centimetres. They have a stockier build and a blunt nose. On the other hand, the Roof rat is slightly smaller, with a body length of about 16 to 19 centimetres and a tail of approximately the same length. They have a more slender and agile appearance, with a pointed nose. Despite their size differences, both species are highly adaptable and have successfully established themselves in various urban and suburban environments throughout the city. While these two species are the most prevalent, there are also other less common rat species that can be found in and around Sydney. Understanding the different types of rats and their sizes is essential for effective pest control.
The Problems Rats Cause
Rats in your home pose a risk to your health and safety. They carry and spread bacteria at an alarming rate on their bodies, in their droppings, and through their urine and saliva, causing discomfort and unease in your own home. These rodents can transmit a number of illnesses, with rats most recently being found to transmit Hepatitis E. Additionally, they can bring in bugs that transmit disease and carry typhus, leptospirosis, and other ailments. Besides being a threat to your health, rats are quite destructive, gnawing through insulation, electrical cables, and walls.
One of the reasons rat infestations are difficult to control is the alarming rate at which they reproduce. Rats can start breeding as early as six weeks of age, and after a short gestation period of approximately three weeks, a female rat can give birth to a litter of 8 to 20 pups. The average female rat can produce up to six litters per year. With such rapid reproduction, a population of just two rats can quickly escalate into a massive infestation. This highlights the urgent need to take swift action when dealing with a rat issue.
Preventing Rat Infestations
The key to effective rat control lies in proactive prevention. Follow these steps to keep rats from entering your home:
Seal Entry Points: Inspect your premises for any openings, holes, and gaps in walls or flooring that rats could use to enter. Even a hole the size of two peanuts is enough for a rat to enter. Consider installing mesh screens, self-closing doors, and windows to prevent their access. It is also a good idea to cover drains and pipes with metal to stop them from coming in.
Limit Access to Food: Properly store and dispose of waste to cut off the rats’ access to food. Regularly remove garbage from both inside and outside the building, and never leave waste or unused food lying around. Reposition trash cans as far away from your home as possible and ensure that all trash cans—both inside and outside—are completely covered and pest-proof. Clean and sanitize all trash cans, recycling bins, and green bins regularly to avoid attracting pests and mice. Store food two inches from the wall and six inches or more off the floor, using tightly-sealed glass, stainless steel, or food-grade plastic containers.
How to Get Rid of Rats
If you’re already dealing with a rat infestation, you’ll need to contact a professional pest control service like Pest2Kill to get the problem under control as quickly as possible.
We use a multi-faceted approach as part of each tailored Rodent Management Plan, including preventing access, identifying and sealing entry points, advising on housekeeping changes and then trapping and baiting.
Preventing Access: Firstly, we identify and seal entry points using mesh or door seals. Even when our customers have already secured obvious entry points themselves, often rats can gain access through tiny hidden holes due to their impressive agility. An experienced pest controller should know where to look and aim to seal these holes as a first priority. At Pest2Kill, we invest a lot of time in this investigative process at each of our customers’ properties – after all, preventing the rats from entering the building, or your livable spaces, is far better than dealing with them on the inside!
Housekeeping Changes: A good pest controller should be able to identify housekeeping changes you can make to prevent, or at least reduce the severity of, a rat infestation. Usually these changes will be aimed at reducing the availability of food, water and shelter. So think:
- Sealing of Garbage bins and replacing damaged ones
- Keeping dog/cat bowls in areas that rodents can’t access
- Fixing leaking taps and pipe
- Addressing moisture issues in the home such as poor site drainage/poor sub floor ventilation
- Clearing garden of long grass
- Cutting back vegetation, especially that which comes into contact with the building
Traps: Snap traps and glue boards can be effective in catching rats. However, great care must be taken by the operator to prevent harming themselves (or other no target species) as well as locating them in a safe and effective place. Traps must be regularly inspected. Firstly, this is to dispose of any dead rat carcasses but it is also to ensure a there isn’t prolonged suffering for an injured rat stuck in the trap.
Rodenticides: Rodenticides (Rat Poisons) should always be handled by a licensed Pest Management Technician. Use lockable Rodent Bait Stations at strategic locations, but exercise extreme caution to keep them away from food preparation areas, children, pets and other non-target species. Again, they should be checked regularly to monitor the feeding habits of the rat population you are dealing with. Ineffective Rodent Bait Stations can be moved and re-located at an area deemed to have high rat activity or traffic. Rat infestations can be a serious problem, affecting both health and property. By taking preventive measures and using effective control methods like traps or hiring a professional pest control service like Pest Control Sydney, you can successfully manage rat infestations in your home and surroundings. Protect your family and pets by ensuring that you have the knowledge and resources needed to handle these pesky rodents effectively.
If you’re experiencing any kinds of pest issues and would like to speak to Pest2Kill for a no-obligation chat about how to manage your problem, call 02 7228 7022 or fill in this free quote form.