The chilly season is well known to be the time for rat incursions as they head towards your home for food and shelter, but what people may not be aware of is that rats can be a year-round issue. In fact, spring is just around the corner and Sacramento homes are still a target for rats to make their unwelcoming mouse warming party.
Nationwide, Sacramento has been listed in the top 29 cities for rat infestations and in California it was ranked in the top 5. The most common being the roof rat. These little critters may look small and cute; however, looks can be deceiving. They can actually wreak a great amount of havoc around your home.
Roof rats are often brown or black in color with large ears, a pointed nose, and slender in size. Ranging from 13-18 inches from nose to tail, these clever creatures are highly adaptive to a wide range of environments. They have superior climbing skills and will travel through trees and across electrical wires to find their way into attics and other parts of the home. Roof rats can squeeze in a hole the size of a quarter and will even chew around an opening to make it suitable to wiggle through. Once inside, food becomes their next objective, and they aren't picky eaters! They will find anything edible to make a mice krispies treat.
How do you know your home has been intruded by roof rats? There are many signs that will give away their presence. Besides spotting one around the home, sighting of rodent droppings and rub marks is a great indicator. You may also find gnawed areas of the home or food packaging. In some instances, people may hear them scurrying about in the attic space or wall voids.
Prevention is the best approach in making sure your home is rat free. The best measure you can take is ensuring that you have sealed up any openings around your home. Keep garbage bins and storage containers tightly sealed and eliminate any possibilities of other food sources such as fallen fruit, bird feeders, and your pet’s food bowls. It is also helpful to cut trees and shrubs away from the structure and move any wood or junk piles away from the home.
There are many threats that come with a rat infestation and contamination is a big one. This could be food or surface contamination. Rats carry disease, pathogens, and parasites through fecal matter and urine. The droppings and hair can also cause allergies and asthma. To make it worse, they can also carry other pests that can transfer to your household such as fleas, ticks, and mites. But that's not all! Aside from the health hazards, rats have razor sharp teeth that allow them to chew through almost anything including some metals. They gnaw on wires and pipes causing a lot of money in home repairs.
It's amazing how fast rats can reproduce. At just 2-5 months of age, they can find a squeak heart and produce as many as 6 litters per year! So be sure to follow these preventative measures or call a professional to properly inspect your home.
Trick or Treat? Fall is here and it’s not unusual for rodents to start preparing for winter in places they aren’t wanted, like inside of your home. It’s a common misconception that rats hibernate in the winter, like many other animals do; however, they don’t become less active as many may think. They seek out shelter and warmth through entry points into the home and even if they have a burrow, they can look to create new entry points. This can raise concern for homeowners and the risk of them gnawing through gas and electrical lines, but rats can cause more harm than this. Structural damage, disease and infestations are also important to keep in mind. So instead of playing a rat’s favorite game of “hide and squeak” here are some ways to protect you and your home this winter.
Seal entry points: Sacramento’s rodents can come in all shapes and sizes, but they all have one thing in common… their bodies are a lot like jell-o. Although they get big in size, they can squeeze their way into some incredibly small spaces! A general rule of thumb is that any hole or gap that is a quarter inch is an entry point for a rodent. So, the first step to protect your home is sealing those entry points.
Eliminate food sources: is key. Keep garbage bins sealed tight and away from the home, keep attics and basements clear year-round, and store food in airtight containers. Rodents also seek out any food that’s left out, including pet food, crumbs and leftovers. Keeping a clean home will eliminate the potential food sources for these furry creatures.
Maintain consistency: In addition to the season changing I think it’s important to mention how COVID-19 has also contributed to Sacramento’s current rodent problem as many homeowners are experiencing a dramatic increase in rodent activity around their homes. Rodents rely heavily on the waste from restaurant and other commercial establishments so the shut-down has forced them to look for food sources elsewhere. There have been many reports of rodents actually acting more “aggressive and unusual” because of this. With this in mind, it is best to be proactive and use these rodent control techniques every day.
Please contact our office if you need assistance with rodent control around your home or if you have any questions about rodent prevention so that your home doesn’t become the next rodent “squeakeasy.”
Two separate studies just listed Sacramento in the top 5 worst rat infested cities in the US. The most common rodent in our area is "Rattus rattus" AKA the Roof Rat.
One of the best ways to discourage rodent activity is to reduce their food sources. This is a great first step towards control, and can really make an impact if you can get your neighbors involved. Rats will travel up to 300 feet to forage for food and only require about 1oz of food per day to survive.
Here are some common "culprits" and things you should look for:
1. Fruit trees (especially citrus) - It might not seem like something a rat would go for, but citrus is one of the major food sources for rodents in the winter months. Keeping it off the ground is key - but they will also climb into the tree to get fresh fruit off the branches so you will want to harvest regularly and keep an eye out for gnawed fruit. This is an early sign that you may have a problem.
2. Snails - believe it or not, rats absolutely love "escargot". If you see snail shells in an attic, on a roof, or in random piles around your property you likely have a rat population nearby. Our rodent services includes complimentary snail treatments for this very reason.
3. Dog/Cat food - This is the most commonly found food source and the start of many rat infestations. Keep the bag in a plastic/metal container, and feed your pet inside. A food bowl left outside (especially at night) is like an all you can eat buffet for rats. Rats are used to the smell of domestic pets (even cats) and will not be scared to come right up to the back door for a free meal.
4. Trash bags - We all have those moments where the trash can is full and the garbage man isn't coming for 3 days. Never leave a bag of food waste on the curb or on the side of your house, as tempting as it might be. The best thing you can do is to put it in a sealed empty can (like the green waste) and then switch it once the garbage can is empty.
5. Bird feed - This is a tough one. Birds are great to have around and many people enjoy feeding them, but you are also feeding the local rat population if you just throw bird feed on the ground. If you absolutely have to feed the birds - do it in a rat/squirrel resistant feeder and keep an eye on the bird food that gets kicked out on the ground by the birds. You'll need to clean this up daily if you want to keep your property rodent free.
There are many more factors to rodent control (sealing entry points, population reduction, tree/shrub trimming, sanitation, insulation replacement, etc) but if you follow these 5 steps you are on your way to a rodent reduced neighborhood.
Give us a call or text if you'd like more in depth information or a professional inspection. We are happy to help our neighbors and advice is always free - regardless if you are our client or not.
- Call 916-531-1261