Nextgen Pest Solutions is a rat control company providing same-day service in Georgia and Florida. We trap and remove all rats and provide home and commercial sealing/exclusion services to prevent rats from returning. We warranty all of our work and offer a renewable yearly warranty if you would like to have continued permanent rats control. Call now for a free quote or to schedule an inspection.
Before you can effectively get rid of rats from your home or commercial property, you must take the time to educate yourself about these rodents. Rat prevention and control protocols are highly dependent upon the given scenario, such as the species of rat and the location and severity of the infestation. Whatever your rodent situation, rat control blends 4 essential elements: inspection, control (baiting or trapping), exclusion, and sanitation. Adding a biological understanding of rats to these 4 rodent extermination pillars, you can get rid of rats in your home or business. This guide is intended to either assist you in getting rid of rats on your own or understanding what your licensed Pest Control Professional is doing on your property.
Here at Nextgen Pest Solutions, we recommend an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach to rat extermination and prevention. IPM rat protocols combine various tools and techniques to eliminate rats with the least impact to the environment. An IPM approach to any pest problem utilizes chemicals only when necessary and focuses heavily on prevention and a commitment to results. Following IPM best practices will provide you with a pest free environment while respecting the ecological impacts of our behavior.
Understanding Rats and Their Behavior
It is estimated that there are over 235 million wild rats in the United States. There are over 51 species of rats around the world, but we most often deal with Roof Rats and Norway Rats. Rats’ teeth never stop growing. Rats gnaw continuously to keep their teeth short enough to close their mouths and eat. Rats’ teeth are so strong and sharp they can chew through most building materials including wood, plastic, and aluminum sheeting. Rats are omnivores and they can eat up to 1/3 of their body weight every day! In the wild rats tend to be vegetarians preferring grains, berries, seeds and nuts, but in urban settings rats will eat anything including human garbage, meat, pet food, even other rats.
Rats have poor eyesight, but excellent sense of hearing, taste, and smell. Rats are burrowing animals that spend their lives darting down tunnels and through tight spaces. They use their whiskers to determine the size and shape of a hole. Because of the long, slender, cylindrical shape of their bodies, if a rat can fit its head through a hole, it can likely pull its body through as well. Rats can typically fit through a hole that is about 1/2″ in diameter or about the size of a dime.
Rats are neophobic, meaning they are afraid of new things. Any change to their living environment, such as the addition of a rat trap or bait station, will be met with extreme caution. Using high quality game cameras, scientists are learning that rats will go to great trouble to avoid something new in their environment. This trait has severe implications when your trying to trap or bait rats. If rats are not caught the first time they encounter a trap, they will actually learn how to avoid the trap in the future.
Rats can climb brick walls and power poles and walk across telephone lines. Rats can fall from a height of 50 feet without getting hurt and can jump 3 feet in the air from a standstill. From a roof, they can jump 5-10 feet. Rats can swim; some species can even tread water for up to 3 days. If food is scarce, sewer rats, usually the Norway Rat, can enter your home by swimming up through your toilet. It is even easier for them to enter via the sewage system if the drains and toilets are dry.
Bottom line, NEVER UNDERESTIMATE RATS! Physically, they can perform amazing feats. Add their physical abilities to their uncanny intelligence, and they are a truly worthy opponent. Every Pest Control Professional has stories of rats that have eluded and amazed them. Applying these biological rat facts to control and prevention measures gives you a great likelihood success against rats.
Why Control Rats?
With the impressive physical and mental abilities of rats, you may wonder why should we focus on rat control and extermination? After all, they are a cute, cuddly, and charming pet to many. A well taken care of pet rat is an entirely different scenario than wild rats allowed to reproduce and invade human spaces.
Disease – The Center for Disease Control has identified over 35 diseases spread by rats and mice worldwide. Some of these diseases are transmitted through direct contact with rodent feces, urine, saliva, or through rodent bites. Other diseases are transmitted indirectly, through ticks, fleas, or mites that have fed on an infected rat. The most common diseases spread by rats are:
Hantavirus – a severe respiratory disease which may be fatal. It is rare in the United States and mostly limited to western states. Hantavirus is transmitted to humans when fresh rodent urine, droppings, or nesting material is stirred up and becomes airborne. These particles are then breathed into the lungs. Hantavirus can also be transmitted if an infected rodent bites a person. Hantavirus may progress to Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS) which is characterized by severe respiratory distress and failure. HPS has a mortality rate of 38%
Leptospirosis – a bacteria that is spread through rodent urine in soil or water. Humans become infected by having contact with soil or water that an infected animal has urinated on. Leptospirosis may be limited to mild symptoms such as fever, headache, and chills. Sometimes it progresses to liver or kidney damage, meningitis, and death. If properly diagnosed, leptospirosis can be treated with antibiotics.
The Plague – is caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis. Humans usually contract The Plague after being bitten by an infected rodent flea. A hungry flea will abandon his sick or dead rodent host and bite humans. Bubonic Plague is responsible for killing millions of people between 1347-1351. Historians and scientists are now coming up with alternative theories, but it has long been believed that rats were integral in the spread of the Black Death. The Plague may be Boubonic, characterized by enlarged lymph nodes, Septicemic, characterized by skin and tissue turning black and dying, or Pneumonic, characterized by rapid onset of pneumonia and respiratory failure. If treated early, the Plague can be treated with antibiotics. In the United States, the Plague is mostly found in rural areas of the west.
Food Supply – It is estimated that rodents consume or contaminate 20% of the world’s food supply. Farmers, food processing plants, and industries down the logistical line of food production and distribution struggle to preserve the food supply from rodents. Keeping rodents out of grain silos, bails of hay, and food storage facilities means the difference in adequate food supply and profitability. Inadequate rodent control in food facilities, can cause fines, poor inspections, and ultimately business closures if not corrected.
Damage to Structures – Rodent’s teeth never stop growing. To combat the growth, rats must constantly chew to grind down their teeth. Rat teeth are harder than copper and iron, and their strong jaw muscles exert great force for their small size. If rats are nesting in your home, business, or restaurant, they will inevitably cause damage, possibly even impose a fire risk. Rats can chew through most building material, including wood, plastic, brick, damaged concrete, wires, sheetrock, and rusted metal. Now imagine the extensive damage a mischief of rats can do to your homes structural integrity and the plumbing and electrical systems.
Rat Reproductive Cycle
To fully understand the breadth of rodent control, a basic understanding of the reproductive cycle of the rat is an interesting detour. A rodent population that is left alone with no intervention, will increase significantly in a short period of time. Rats have a relatively short life span, most live between 1-2 years in the wild, but they reach sexual maturity very quickly and have short gestational periods. Norway rats are pregnant for between 21-23 days. She has between 6-12 rats per litter, and these rats reach sexual maturity between 8 -12 weeks later. Female rats can produce as many as 7 litters per year and can become pregnant the day they give birth! Many rats die within their first year, due to predators or hunger, but this staggering reporoductive rate leaves many survivors.
Thorough Rat Inspection
To get rid of rats from your home, apartment, or business, the first tenant of Integrated Pest Management is a thorough inspection. Your Pest Management Professional (PMP) is like an experienced detective looking for clues as to the entry points, the trails being used by the rats, and severity of the infestation. Just like a detective, your PMP will interview you to determine what you have seen, heard, and smelled. Then, using flashlights, ladders, and protective equipment, he will carefully look at the exterior of a structure and the interior. He will look for areas that may be providing food or water to the rats, and any evidence of nests or nesting materials. A quality rodent inspection will look for the following features:
Runways and Grease Marks – Rats prefer to use the same “highways” between where they feed and their nesting areas. As these “highways” are used regularly, visible trails begin to form. Look for areas where grass appears trampled, or soil or mulch is indented. Rats like to travel with one side of their body rubbing against a vertical surface such as a wall, foundation, or beam in the attic. Rats’ bodies are very oily. As this runway is frequently traveled, grease or rub marks will appear as brown smudge marks on attic beams and rafters, baseboards, or on the bottom of door frames.
Droppings – Roof Rat droppings are curved shaped with pointed ends and are about ½” in length or less. Roof rat droppings are usually found in scattered about. Norway Rat droppings are more rectangular shaped with blunt ends and are usually about ¾” in length. Norway Rat droppings are usually found clustered in small groups. Fresh droppings are usually dark in color, soft, and sometimes shiny. Older droppings may be dull and hard, but sometimes extreme environmental conditions can alter the appearance and texture of the droppings. Evaluating dropping evidence is a great clue as to the severity of a rat infestation and if the rats are still present.
Urine – A popular myth about rats is that they do not have a bladder. This is not true, they do have bladders. However, they urinate so frequently, it is as if they do not hold their urine. Rats use their urine as a form of communication. By smelling another rat’s urine, a rat can learn the species, age, gender, social status, and reproductive status of the other rat. Rat urine often glows under a black light. This is helpful during the initial inspection as high concentrations of glowing urine can help determine where the rats are nesting. Please do not handle rat feces or urine soaked materials without protection. Dangerous diseases are transmitted via rat feces and urine.
Odor – A distinct musky odor is sometimes present when a large number of rats are present. Even if you can not smell the odor, often a family dog or cat will smell it and become agitated, scratching at a wall or barking at the ceiling. If your pet is behaving strangely, a rat nest may be the cause.
Gnaw Marks – Rats will gnaw anything that they can get their teeth on. Adult rat gnaw marks are usually 1/8” wide and will be in pairs as they are made with the rat’s incisors. Look carefully at wires, furniture, cardboard boxes, and any wooden items. Carefully inspect water pipes as rats need a reliable source of water. Often rat infestations create hazardous conditions in your home that require the services of a licensed HVAC or Electrical Contractor.
Rat Extermination vs. Mouse Extermination
An integral aspect of the inspection should be determining the species of rodent you are dealing with. Rat extermination procedures are different than mouse extermination procedures. Mice are curious where rats are extremely cautious. Treating rats with a mouse protocol will lead to frustration, poor results, and unintended consequences. During your inspection, you may be lucky enough to visually see the target pest. However, sometimes a juvenile rat can be mistaken for a mature mouse. Here are some tricks to determine if you have rats or mice.
Appearance – A baby rat will have a “puppy dog” type appearance, similar to other mammals; large clumsy looking paws and a head that looks disporportiantely large for its body. As rats age and they loose that baby face, their heads become more proportionate to their body and their face is more blunt shaped than a mouse.
Rodent Droppings – If you do not spot your adversary during your inspection, you will likely find droppings, or fecal matter. Be cautious as rodent droppings are known to carry disease, but by evaluating the droppings you have a clue as to whether you are dealing with rats or mice. Mouse droppings are approximately ¼” in length, pointed on both ends and plentiful. Rat droppings are much larger, up to ¾”, harder in texture, shiny black, and there will be fewer of them.
Location of the Rodent Activity – Mice prefer to nest close to their food source, about 10 feet away if possible. They will usually be found on or near the ground nesting in a soft bed of shredded paper, yarn, and materials. Rats forage between 100-300 feet from the nest nightly for food. Norway Rats prefer to live in underground burrows or tunnels, if they are indoors they can usually be found nesting in a basement or crawlspace. Roof Rats are excellent climbers and are usually found nesting in attic rafters, and in the higher branches of dense vegetation and fruit trees.
By accurately identifying your target species, mice or rats, you can be assured your extermination plan is most effective.
Rat Bait vs Rat Traps – Indoor Rat Control vs. Outdoor Rat Control
Once you have determined that you are dealing with a rat, not a mouse, infestation, it is time to eliminate the rats from your home and property. Rat elimination is usually divided into outdoor rat prevention and indoor rat removal.
Indoor Rat Removal – Trap Indoors Do Not Bait
If you have confirmed rat activity inside your house, the most pressing concern is removing the rats. Although it may be tempting to throw handfuls of rat bait, or rodenticide, into the attic or basement, this is a terrible idea. Although the immediate ordeal of live rodents running through your house and eating your food may have stalled, you set yourself up for a worse situation. When rats eat rat bait and begin to feel ill, they have an uncanny ability to find the most remote, isolated, and inaccessible area to die. Often, it is not just one rat that eats the poison and dies… The odor of decomposing rats is atrocious, and it may take weeks for the odor to alleviate. Decomposing rats will also create a maggot and fly problem in your house. Tracking down and removing rat carcasses in an attic or behind walls, often involves cutting into drywall and drop ceilings. Many times, you make the cuts and damage your home only to find the decaying rat is not where your nose told you it would be, so more cuts are necessary. Other times, you find the decomposing rat carcass only to learn it can physically not be retrieved and the area cleaned.
The only way to avoid the agony of dead rats in your house is to trap and remove the dead rats. Although more patience is required on the front end, the results are much more appealing than dealing with weeks of putrid odors. Once you have committed yourself to the delayed gratification of trapping the rats inside your home, you must utilize the clues you found during your inspection. Remember, rats are neophobic, they will be afraid of anything new in their environment. Cartoon style rat traps with a wedge of cheese haphazardly placed in the attic, will not do the trick.
Before attempting to trap the rats, clean up and remove any possible food sources for them. Store any bulk food items and pet food in plastic or metal containers with tight fitting lids. Pick up any fallen fruit or nuts from trees in your yard. Store your fruits and vegetables in the refrigerator until the rats are caught. Trapping is easier if the rats are hungry!
With over 4,400 successful patents for mousetraps, they are the most frequently invented device in U.S. history. Although a simple idea, rat snaps traps have greatly improved since their early years. They are more reliable, more lethal, and stronger than ever before. The options for rat traps can be overwhelming, as they are available in different materials, sizes, and shapes. All rat snap traps have an area for bait placement, and a hinge that allows a bar or mouth with teeth to come crashing down upon the rat when the trap is triggered. Trapping with a snap trap is a humane form of rat extermination as it is a quick painless kill. Be cautious when using rat snap traps, they are strong enough to break your fingers.
Good trap placement is key to the success of your mission. Place the baited traps along the rats’ established runways. Remember rats like to use the same route, and they like to feel the solid edge on their side as they scurry about. Place the traps perpendicular to the wall/edge with the trigger end almost touching the wall. For best results place 2 or 3 traps along the runway with a few inches between them. Alternatively, you can place 2 traps parallel to the wall with the trigger ends facing out, so that you catch them either coming to or leaving the nest. Rat traps can be placed 15-20 feet apart.
Because rats are afraid of new introductions to their environment, it can help to place baited but unset traps along their edge. The rat will get used to safely eating the morsel you have left for him. Once the “trap shy” rat is used to the trap being there, set the trap. Waiting to try to kill a rat, is hard and many people just can’t do it. But, when those traps are finally set, you will see success.
Always attempt to place traps outside of the reach of children and pets. If you must place a trap in the living space, place it inside of a rodent box. Rodent Stations have a hole small enough for rats to enter and, depending upon the station chosen, has room for a baited and set snap trap on the inside. These bait stations are enticing to rats because they provide shelter and they provide children and pets protection from the snap trap.
It is best to offer the rats a buffet of baits. Foods with strong odors tend to work the best, peanut butter, canned tuna, beef jerky, granola bars, or moldy cheese all work well. If you have rats in an environment with endless supply of food, such as a food processing facility or a granary, try baiting the rat trap with nesting materials. Tie a piece of string or yarn to the trigger. When the rat attempts to take the nesting material the trap will be triggered.
Wear gloves when baiting, setting, and placing traps. Rats can smell human odor and will be less likely to approach the trap. If you catch a rat, you can reuse the trap. The surviving rats will smell the previous (dead) rat and interestingly enough, be less cautious of the snap trap. Actively trapping a mischief of rats is a time, skill, and labor-intensive process. Be prepared to check your traps daily and alternate baits if necessary. You generally need more traps than you originally thought, but make sure you remember where you place them all. Once the rats are removed, you need to remove all the traps that were placed. Make a map of your attic if you need to. You would hate to trap an unsuspecting electrician in the attic years from now!
Every Pest Management Professional has a story of the smartest rat they ever encountered. It is not uncommon to catch the Beta rats (socially inferior) rats first then struggle to capture the Alpha Male Rat. Especially if a rat has had a near miss (only tufts of fur found on a triggered trap), he will be very difficult to catch. Rats are smarter than we give them credit for. Rat trapping requires thinking outside the box, implementing new ideas pursuant to your observations and experiences, and persistence.
Excluding and Preventing Rats from Entering Your Home
Once you are sure you have eliminated all the rats inside your home or business, the job of sealing the structure must begin. While this may seem extraneous and unnecessary, after you have trapped a mischief of rats and hauled them out of your attic, you will vow to never repeat this process! Excluding your home for rats is a detail focused endeavor, that when done properly, will prevent rodents or nuisance wildlife of any kind from entering your home again.
The material used in preventing rats from entering your home is an important consideration. Remember, rats chew constantly and can chew through many materials. Copper mesh, hardware cloth, and metal flashing are materials that rats CAN NOT chew through. There are also innovative rodent proof fill fabric barriers made with stainless steel and poly fibers that are excellent for filling holes in your home. A thorough and complete exclusion job will often incorporate a variety of these materials.
Any gap, crack, or hole that is ¼” or greater needs to be repaired. Rats can fit through a hole the size of a quarter and mice can fit through a hole the diameter of a pencil. Exclude accordingly! Smaller holes should be filled with the rat proof fill fabric or copper mesh. To deal with larger holes, use hardware cloth with mesh holes less than ¼” or sheet metal. Carefully inspect all utility lines, including areas where cable, electric, faucets, gas meters, and telephone wires enter the house. Plumbing and HVAC lines should also be carefully inspected. Rat proof fill fabric or copper mesh should be used to fill holes around all of these utility lines.
Check shingles, roof ventilators and dryer vent screens to be sure they are secure and undamaged, replacing or repairing as needed. Secure hardware cloth over the vents, and make sure the chimney is capped. Inspect all doors and windows, including the garage door. Replace any broken windows and weather stripping that does not create a tight seal. Use metal kickplates to prevent nuisance wildlife from gnawing on doors.
Pest and rodent exclusion is a central tenant of Integrated Pest Management (IPM). Most pest control companies offer exclusion as a service to their customers. Benjamin Franklin famously said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of the cure.” Any effort or expense you put towards preventing rodents from entering your home, will pay off in dividends.
Outdoor Rat Prevention – Bait Outdoors
After you have removed the rats and properly sealed up your home, consider implementing an outdoor rat baiting program. Controlling rats outside not only helps prevent snakes in your yard, it prevents rodent populations from exponentially increasing in the area. If you have a chronic or persistent rat problem, outdoor baiting is necessary. A rodent bait combines an attractive food substance with an ingredient that causes death.
Any time you utilize a rodent bait, or rodenticide, you must follow the label precisely as it is written. Failure to do so, is a violation of federal law. Rodent baits must always be placed in protective rodent bait stations. These stations must be anchored down so that they can not be moved or removed by children or other animals. The rat bait station protects non-target animals from the bait intended to control rats.
It is recommended to place 4-6 bait stations around a single-family home. Place the rodent bait of your choice inside the station and check the station regularly. So long as the bait is being consumed, rats on your property are being eliminated. Depending on your situation, there are specialized rodent stations available. Some stations can be placed in trees and on fences. In situations where food is plentiful but water is not, liquid rodent baits are available as well.
A professionally managed rat control program can adequately control rodents on your property, whether they Norway (brown) or Roof (black) Rats.
Active Ingredients in Rat Bait
Many people are apprehensive utilizing baits, or rodenticides, to gain long-term control of rats. Scientific advancements have improved the specialization of rodenticides so that they have fewer unintended consequences than in decades prior. Rodenticides are categorized as either anticoagulate or non-anticoagulate. Your Pest Management Professional has extensive experience in utilizing these rodenticides in distinct and unique situations.
Anticoagulants – Anticoagulants disrupt the rat’s ability to clot blood, resulting in internal bleeding. The rat will not feel discomfort immediately after consuming the bait and will often come back for another meal/dose. Rats often go back to their nesting site and die a few days later. First generation anticoagulants are the older active ingredients such as chlorophacinone, diphacinone and warfarin. These active ingredients require the rat to come back additional meals in order to consume a lethal dose. They may have to consume bait up to 5 days in a row for them to die. Second generation anticoagulants are more recent chemical formulation, and only requires the rat to feed one time in order to consume a lethal dose. However, the second generation anticoagulants still take about a week for the rat to die. Second generation anticoagulants include bromadiolone and difethialone. Rodent baits that are classified as anticoagulants have a readily available antidote, Vitamin K1. With proper use, these baits present little threat to humans and non-target animals.
Non-Anticoagulants – Non-Anticoagulants have several different modes of action. They are considered single-feed rodenticides and cause the rat’s death in 1-3 days. Bromethalin affects the rat’s central nervous system, cholecalciferol (Vitamin D3) affects the rat’s calcium in the body and zinc phosphide is a systemic poison, affecting multiple bodily functions. These baits are more expensive than anticoagulants, and are often used to reduce a large rat population quickly.
In addition to baiting the outdoors and the perimeter of a structure, sealing your home to prevent rodent entry, rat sanitation is simply the process of creating an environment in which rats do not thrive. By eliminating conducive conditions at your home or business, you can lesson your chance of rat encounters.
Trim back hedges and branches that are near or touch the house. Rats can use branches as pathways onto your home or business. Keep grass and hedges trimmed to reduce harborage areas in the soil. Elevate all wood piles.
Frequently clean trash cans and dumpsters and ensure they have tight fitting lids. If possible, keep them stored away from your home or business.
Remove all food and water sources. Fix leaky faucets, pipes, and drains. Remove bird feeders and bird baths. Do not leave pet food out and available overnight.
Rat Removal Services
When a rat dies in your home, the most pressing concern is removing that decaying carcass. Without intervention, the odor of this decaying rat may last for weeks. It can be an unbearable situation and one that is extremely difficult to remedy. Rats will often find the most secluded and distant area of your attic or wall void when they begin to feel ill. The only way to find and remove this decaying carcass is to follow your nose. This will probably entail belly crawling through your attic heading towards the putrid smell. Airflows and ventilation can trick you causing you to believe the rat is behind a particular wall when it is not. Often in carcass removal, you will have to cut open walls or drop ceilings. Often, it takes cutting into more than one area of the wall to find the dead rat. Because it is possible to cause extensive damage in this process, many pest control companies will only perform this service if they can physically see the decaying rat.
The CDC makes the following recommendations for cleaning up a dead rodent. Of course, always wear gloves and other PPE while dealing with dead rodents and their nests.
Spray the dead rodent and surrounding area with a disinfectant or mixture of bleach and water.
Allow the carcass and the surrounding area to soak in the disinfectant for at least 5 minutes before wiping up with a rag.
Place the dead rodent and your gloves, if disposable, in a plastic bag and seal tightly; place this sealed plastic bag inside of another plastic bag and seal tightly.
Throw this bag into a regularly emptied trash can and thoroughly wash your hands thoroughly.
As stated above, we do not recommend baiting for rats indoors. While it may seem easier and quicker at the time, you will regret that decision when you deal with the repercussions of a rat carcass hidden deep in wall of your home. Utilize traps indoors not bait!
Commercial Rodent Control – Restaurants, Apartments, Nursing Homes
Rat control in a commercial property presents different and unique challenges. Restaurants, food processing plants, and food storage facilities, and others, must proactively engage the services of trusted, competent, and experienced, pest management professionals. Allowing a rodent infestation to take hold at a critical facility in our food supply can cause millions of dollars in damaged food, suspension of the operation, and loss of jobs to the local economy. The pest control company you choose to partner with, must be aware of the regulations under which you operate, have the ability to implement a rodent program that will keep you in compliance, and provide detail oriented and knowledgeable technicians to execute the plan. The technician must be detail oriented and always in inspection mode. By seeking out conditions conducive to rodent activity, and sounding the alarm to remedy the issue immediately, a single rat can be eliminated quickly preventing a full-blown infestation.
Here at Nextgen Pest Solutions, we take this very serious approach to all our commercial rodent control clients. From restaurants to nursing homes, and apartment complexes and condos to office buildings, we recognize that the success of your business depends upon your business meeting and exceeding standards of cleanliness and pest prevention. We are humbled by the many local businesses that have entrusted their pest control needs to us. If your business or commercial operation is struggling to control roaches, bedbugs, ants, or rats, feel free to give us a call. We will apply our proven techniques to your property and have your customer’s singing your praises!
Nextgen Pest Solutions Rat Extermination
Nextgen Pest Solutions provides proven results for rat control. Whether you are dealing with an active infestation or need rodent prevention at your home or place of business, we have the expertise and professionalism to get the job done. Left alone, rats reproduce quickly and can quickly turn into an infestation. We do it all! From trapping the rats living inside your home, to controlling the outdoor populations with a baiting regime. Call us today to solve your rodent problem.