Rats are actually not picky and don’t only call urban areas home. Nor are they only associated with run-down buildings. Instead, rats can be found pretty much anywhere – apartments, houses, restaurants, hotels and other businesses. They’re very adaptable. And if you see one rat, it probably isn’t alone.
With Covid-19, some residential areas have been reporting an increase in rat sightings. The thought is because many restaurants had to close, this led to a reduction in their food supply. They spread out in search of food, water and shelter, including in suburban areas.
Even if you haven’t actually seen a rat, there are clues that can indicate their presence:
- Droppings – they look like pill capsules and are larger than a mouse’s
- Gnawing – rats like to chew on things. Check garbage cans, foundations, bird feeders, wires and fences
- Burrows – rats live in burrows and don’t only have one access point, but two or three. Look for holes in the ground or freshly dug earth which are often under decks, around foundations, under shrubs or in long grass and weeds.
- Pathways – rats are quite predictable and travel the same areas. Look for trampled areas often along edges such as buildings and fences
- Grease stains – when rats rub against a surface the oils from their fur leaves behind dark smears
As with any animal, the key to reducing the chances of having them on your property is to eliminate their food, water and shelter as much as possible.
- Take a look around your home, garage and any other buildings on your property. While rats look big, some can squeeze through an opening about the size of a quarter, other sources say a toonie. Check for any cracks or holes in your walls, around windows, your foundation or where pipes or wires enter your home. If appropriate, use ¼ inch hardware cloth (also known as welded wire mesh) to secure over the openings. You can also use copper scouring pads to plug holes, if it’s safe to do so.
- Seal gaps under doors using metal door sweeps.
- Keep your garbage in a galvanized bin with a tight-fitting lid. Do not leave it outside overnight as this is when rats are most active. Make sure your compost is secure. Even your recyclables can be an attraction. Make sure they’re stored inside. If they must be outside, make sure all of your recyclables are well rinsed to reduce odours.
- Your bird feeders can also be an attractant. If you know you have a rat problem, you may want to take down your feeders until the situation is resolved.
- If you feed your pets outside, make sure to clean the area up and remove any food once your pet has finished eating.
- Keep pet food, bird feed and any other food sources in galvanized bins with tight-fitting lids.
- Clean up any fallen fruits from your fruit trees or vegetables from your vegetable gardens.
- If you suspect you have rats, remove any potential water sources from your yard. Turn off water fountains, empty bird baths and any other containers that can collect water.
- Rats prefer cluttered areas. Clean up any wood piles and other debris in and around your buildings that rats could nest in, use as a quick hide-a-way or use as a travel route. Keeping items on shelving is another good idea to help keep items off the floor.