Even if you don’t mind guinea pigs, gerbils, and chubby little hamsters, rats are probably not your favorite rodent. With their big black eyes, pointed snouts, and thick tails, you might already feel disgusted by rats and their mouse brethren. And if rats don’t creep you out already, they’re about to.
Rats are ingenious and resilient little creatures, but that doesn’t always bode well for you if they get in your house. Read on for 9 reasons why rats are even grosser than you thought and why you should get rid of a rat infestation in your home as quickly as you can.
- Rats Are Found All over the World
Rats have a reputation for sneaking onto ships. And before the invention of airplanes, ships were the primary way for people to travel around the world. For centuries, the rats took full advantage of this transportation system. When humans on ships arrived at their destinations, the rats arrived along with them. As a result, rats live almost everywhere in the world.
Even to this day, you can find rats can on ships at sea, traveling between continents.
- Rats Can Fit Through Small Spaces
Seal your house as well as you like, and the rats still might get in. Even if you think you’ve covered every nook and cranny, if a rat thinks it might find something it likes in your house, it can chew through almost any material and squeeze through spaces the size of a quarter.
Rats use their sharp teeth to munch through brick, wood, and even lead.
- Rats Can Produce Thousands of Offspring
If left to their own devices, rats will mate like rabbits. A single female rat can mate with hundreds of males throughout the yearthey have even more fertility cycles than humans. With this kind of virility, rats can produce thousands of offspring in their short lifetimes. While they only live two to three years, they can have as many as 2,000 babies annually.
Although they have the potential to have thousands of offspring, most rats produce under 100.
- Rats Can Swim
Have you ever seen a scary movie where a monster or creature came up through the sewer pipes and out the toilet? Well, you actually can find a rat in your toilet in a similar fashion. Rats have the ability to swim up to half a mile, and they can tread water for days. If you ever flush a rat down the toilet, don’t feel surprised if it comes back up the same way.
Because of their strong swimming abilities, rats have even been known to swim between different islands.
- Rats Used to Populate an Entire Island
In 1780, a Japanese ship wrecked on an island in Alaska. As with most ships, especially at the time, this Japanese ship carried a few rats. When the ship crashed, the rats took refuge on the island and quickly established a thriving population. The rats did so well on the island that the land itself earned the name of “Rat Island.”
Unfortunately for the island’s native bird species, the rats wreaked havoc on their populations. To prevent further damage, the US government staged a rat intervention in 2008. Rat Island was declared rat-free in 2009 and was renamed Hawadax Island in 2012.
- Rats Used to Fight Dogs
In a practice called rat-baiting, rats fought against a dog in a large pit to see how long it would take the dog to kill them. The practice was first developed in London after other forms of animal fighting became illegal-but not rat fighting. To keep their betting games going, Londoners put rats in a pit with a dog, started a clock, and watched the animals go at it.
Rat-baiting is now illegal, although dogs can still effectively kill rats as a pest control measure.
- Rats Transmit Disease
Although this should seem obvious, one of the biggest reasons rats are creepy is that they carry disease. Rats have transmitted everything from hemorrhagic fevers and the black plague to humans around the world.
- Rats Can Survive Great Falls
If you ever encounter a rat on a balcony, don’t think throwing it off will kill it. Rats can survive falls of up to 50 feet and escape unscathed.
- Rats Can Laugh
When you picture a rat, the last thing you want to see is it laughing. Rather than seem joyous, a laughing rat seems like something from a nightmare. However, scientists have reported that lab rats make happy squeaking noises when they play with other rats, and when the scientists tickle them. Before you’re taken in with this seemingly happy picture, remember all the other creepy facts you’ve learned about rats.
Rats are unpleasant yet innovative creatures. If you find any signs of rats in your home, such as droppings, scratching noises, or gnawing damage, call a pest control company right away. For resilient rats, you need resilient professionals.