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What to do if You See a Rat

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What to do if You See a Rat – There’s something in your house. You can hear it bumping around in the dead of night, its claws clattering across the kitchen tiles. You know it’s there, but you never see it. All that changes one morning when you open your cabinet and find a pair of beady black eyes staring back at you.

It’s official, you have a rat. Even worse, it finished the Rice Krispies without asking. And if it’s wearing a chef’s hat, then you’re in a Pixar movie. Your first instinct might be to go after it with a broom or climb on top of the table screaming. While both might seem like appropriate reactions at the time, neither is very helpful in getting your unwanted guests to leave the house permanently.

So, what should you do after discovering a furry intruder in your home? Well, a good first step might be to figure out how and why they got in in the first place. For a rat, the act of getting inside is not often difficult at all. You might have heard that mice and rats have collapsible bones, or that, like a shark, their skeletons are mainly cartilage.

As cool as that would be, it’s unfortunately not true. A rodent’s bones are just as solid as any other mammal, and they aren’t equipped with any secret joints that allow them to rearrange their skeletons on the fly like fuzzy transformers. What they have instead is very narrow shoulders relative to the size of their skull.

What to do if You See a Rat

What to do if You See a Rat

Their collarbone is also quite small, proportionally speaking, and fits behind their head completely. The old story that they can fit through any hole large enough for their head isn’t entirely true, but not far from reality. Rats have been known to misjudge an opening and wind up stuck in a too-narrow gap, but for the most part, they’re pretty good at squeezing through tight spaces.

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The amount of space a rat needs will vary from species to species, and even individual to individual. In general, any gap in the size of an inch is enough for a rat to squeeze through. Mice, being much smaller, can fit through a hole as narrow as a quarter of an inch. This natural talent comes from their status as burrowing mammals.

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What to do if You See a Rat

In the wilderness or your backyard, they’ll typically dig about eighteen inches underground, but can go much deeper when trying to find their way around obstacles. Their preference for concealed burrows translates to their behavior when intruding on human nesting grounds. Brown rats in particular love nothing more than finding a cozy spot in your walls to settle down.

Once inside your house, rats also excel at finding their way into places you wouldn’t expect. Their teeth are more than sharp enough to nibble their way through your couch’s upholstery, and the inside of a sofa is an excellent place for a rodent to hide and raise their young. So have fun sitting down for the rest of the day.

Anyways, that explains how they get in, and some of the places they can end up, but what draws furry critters into your domain, to begin with? Well, much like prospective homeowners at an open house, nothing draws them in like leaving food out. Fruit, meat, grains; rats aren’t picky eaters and will go after whatever they can get.

Cleaning up your kitchen is the number one method for preventing an infestation. It’s also important to properly secure the lids to your garbage cans, a precaution that equally effective at dissuading raccoons and other scavengers. A rat’s opportunistic nature doesn’t preclude them from having preferences.

Brown rats, also known as Norway rats, are big fans of protein. This includes everything from nuts to meat scraps and dog or cat food. Meanwhile, the smaller black rats prefer a diet rich in vitamin C, and will eagerly go after fruit whenever the opportunity arises. For this reason, black rats are sometimes referred to as fruit rats.

A rat’s dietary preference also influences their behavior in other ways. While both species are capable climbers, black rats excel at scaling vertical surfaces. They often find their way into places like attics and ducts, earning their second nickname, the roof rat. Brown rats prefer basements and the ground floor of buildings.

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What to do if You See a Rat

This is also the species you’ll see skulking around dark places like sewers and subway tunnels. Their names are also a little misleading. Black rats can be brown and brown rats can be black. Sort of like bears. For this reason, it’s more reliable to identify rat species by size and behavior instead of color.

Fully grown black rats tend to be around thirteen to fourteen inches from their nose to the tip of their tail. The Norway rat is substantially larger and can grow up to twenty inches in length. That’s a big rat. They’re also not actually from Norway, which I’m sure is excellent news for any Norwegians the audience.

Both species are believed to have originated in the steppes of central Asia. From there, they spread like rats across the world. While other species of rat exist, these “Old World Rats,” as they’re known, have proved the most adaptable by far. When European explorers came to Australia and the Americas, they brought their rats with them.

Brown rats now inhabit every continent except Antarctica, making them one of the most widespread species on planet Earth. At this point, you might be asking, “This is all very interesting, but how does it help me with getting the rat out of my house?” Well first off, you might want to amend that to “rats”, as in several.

That’s right, much like cockroaches, by the time you see a rat, there’s a good chance you’ve already got an infestation on your hands. Your first instinct might be to call an exterminator, and that’s understandable. Rats and mice often carry diseases and parasites, so you’ll want them gone as quickly as possible.

They’re a common vector for fleas and ticks, which can spread to you and your pets. A rat’s mouth is full of bacteria, which can be spread through their bite. Their urine and feces aren’t exactly hygienic either and get everywhere. Rat poisons, also known as rodenticides, are a popular choice and highly effective, but can have unintended side effects.

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What to do if You See a Rat

Pets and young children have been known to ingest rat poison by accident, often requiring hospitalization. With all that in mind, it’s understandable that some people want nothing to do with rat poison. In that case, you could always go the old-fashioned route. Traps! Just consider what bait to use. Peanut butter, fruit, vegetables, cereals, and meat are all valid choices for drawing in rats.

Remember, brown rats like protein, and black rats love fruit. Snap traps offer a far more humane method of rodent removal, instantaneously shuffling vermin off this mortal coil while being far less hazardous to children and pets. If that still makes you uncomfortable, there are also less violent alternatives on the market.

Just bear in mind that bringing rats alive presents its own set of problems. Letting them go outside is practically begging the rat to come back in, and don’t think you can just carry them to the end of the block either. Rats have an impressive sense of direction, being able to find their way home from over a mile away, even without Google maps.

As someone who gets lost whenever he tries taking a shortcut to work, I’m impressed. Leaving rats in the woods isn’t really an elegant solution either since they’re liable to be eaten in minutes. The inside of a fox’s stomach definitely counts as out of your hair, but kind of defeats the purpose of taking them alive.

Either way, remember the old saying, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Keeping rats out of your house saves you from having to deal with them later. Do this, and you won’t have to worry about any close encounters of the rodent kind. – What to do if You See a Rat

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