rats outside nc home

What types of rats are most common in North Carolina?

Like other rodents, rats are partially reliant on us for their survival.  Their close proximity to people ensures that their basic needs (food, water, and shelter) are provided for.  Unfortunately, because of their dependency, both Norway rats and roof rats are a common problem for property owners in North Carolina.

Roof Rats

roof rat on lenoir home roof

Roof rats are appropriately named; they have excellent climbing abilities that allow them to easily access the roofs of buildings. These rodents are dark brown or black in color with some gray hairs peppered in; their underbelly is lighter in color. They have long, thin bodies with a delicate build and grow to between 6-8 inches in length.  Their long scaly tail adds another 6-8 inches to their total body length. Pointed noses, large ears, and large dark colored eyes are also characteristics of roof rats.

Norway Rats

norway rats on a kitchen table

Unlike roof rats, you’re not likely to find Norway rats up high.  Their heavy bodies don’t make them agile climbers.  Instead Norway rats typically enter buildings at the ground level, sometimes burrowing beneath the structures.  They are brown or gray in color, have a shaggy appearance, and have long “dense” bodies that grow to between up to 9 ½ inches in length.  Their bi-colored tails add another 6-8 inches.  To distinguish them from roof rats, look for blunt noses, small ears, and protruding small black eyes.

Are rats dangerous?

Yes, rats are dangerous to people and property.  They contaminate food sources and have the ability to spread many diseases and bacteria including Lymphocytic choriomeningitis (LCM), salmonellosis, dysentery, and leptospirosis; along with introducing parasites like fleas, mites, and ticks. 

They’ll also contaminate and/or damage belongings, building materials, and structures with their saliva, urine, and feces.

What damage can rats cause?

In addition to the damage mentioned above, rats have very powerful jaws and sharp front incisors. In order stop their teeth from overgrowing they chew on anything and everything, constantly.

Rats cause significant structural damages by chewing through pipes, flooring, drywall, cabinets, electrical wires, and insulation.

They will damage personal property by chewing through clothing, furniture, books, linens, and similar items. Also, Norway rats build burrows underneath of sidewalks, decks, garages, foundations, and sheds, causing damage to them in the process.

In addition to damaging things by chewing on them, rats damage furniture and walls by leaving grease and dirt marks on them as they move along their surface.

How do you know if you have rats or other rodents?

One of the best ways to tell whether rats or another species of rodent such as mice have invaded your property is by the droppings that you find. Mouse droppings are the size of a grain of rice, are dark in color, and each end is pointed.  Rat droppings are larger in size (3/4 inch) are dark in color, and they have blunt ends. Other differences between rats and mice include:

  • Size - Adult rats are much larger in size than adult mice.
  • Tails – Rats have thicker tails that are scaly and devoid of hair whereas mice have thin tails that are covered in a light layer of fur.
  • Ears – Relative to their heads, rat ears are smaller than mouse ears.

If you are certain that it is in fact rats that have invaded your home, one of the best ways to determine if they are Norway rats or roof rats is by their location. Roof rats are typically located in attics spaces and in upper floor levels, while Norway rats are typically found inhabiting basement and first floors.

How do you get rid of rats?

If rats have infested your home or business, getting rid of them without the help of a pest control company will be a challenge.  DIY rat control often fails because property owners don’t use the right tools or they don’t use them the right way.  Another reason DIY fails is because the source of the problem is never identified and corrected.  For effective rat control that not only eliminates the existing rat activity but also prevents future infestations, A-1 Pest Control is the smart choice.  Our team of pest control technicians are well-versed in rat behavior and control methods.  They have the knowledge and tools to get rid of rats and to keep them from coming back.  Visit our rodent control page to learn more about this effective service or contact us to discuss your situation!

Can rat infestations be prevented?

You can keep rats out of your home or building but it takes time and effort.  Implementing a pest management program is critical but you should also follow the rat prevention tips listed below.

  • Fix any openings on the exterior of your structure.  This includes cracks, gaps around utility entrances, and holes in the roof.
  • Seal areas around windows and doors with caulking if possible.  You should also install door sweeps, and keep doors closed when not in use.  This applies to garage doors and basement doors too. 
  • Place tight-fitting caps on your home’s chimneys, make sure vent covers are secure, and repair holes found along the roof line.
  • Remove potential food sources – inside and out.  Trash should be emptied often and stored outside in dumpsters or cans with tight-fitting lids.  Pet food should not be left out overnight and you might consider removing bird feeders as they attract rats and other wildlife besides birds.  Store food in glass containers and do not leave food on the counter.  Dirty dishes should not be left in the sink long and never overnight.
  • Trim tree branches away from the roof so that they cannot provide a bridge to the structure.
 

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