While all pest infestations can cause concern, few insects cause the same property damage or pose the same health risk as rodents. For this reason, Chicago, IL homeowners and business owners who suspect an infestation must proceed with rat extermination as quickly as possible.
But how do you know that you’re dealing with rats? Below, we provide the basics of rat pest identification.
Rats have a fairly recognizable appearance, but you might not get much of a chance to spot them because they are nocturnal and quick movers.
Most rat species you might find on your property have the following physical characteristics:
- Bare tails that measure as long or longer than the rodent’s body
- Short, coarse fur that may be brown, dark brown, or gray
- Small, light-colored paws and facial features
Common pest species include cotton rats, which may measure up to 5 inches, and Norway rats, which can grow up to 10 inches in length.
Since you likely won’t ever see these unwelcome visitors, how do you identify an infestation? Look for the following warning signs:
- Abnormal sounds and smells. If you have a rat problem, you will likely notice ambient noises and sounds. You may hear scratching, scurrying, or bruxing (the sound made when a rodent grinds its teeth). Near the nest, you may also notice an unpleasant musky odor.
- Droppings. A single rat may produce as many as 40 droppings a night. If you have an infestation, you might notice dark brown droppings shaped like a large grain of rice. Droppings typically measure 9 to 14 mm in length.
- Gnaw damage. Rats’ teeth grow constantly, kind of like your fingernails. To maintain their teeth, rats gnaw on wood, plastic, cardboard, or electrical cords.
- Nests. Depending on the rat type, rats live in nests or burrows. Check for nests consisting of torn paper and debris behind appliances and inside crawlspaces.
- Track and rub marks. Rats have oily fur and distinctly shaped feet, which means they leave recognizable patterns when they travel. Look for tail marks and footprints in low-traffic areas, such as sheds. In your home, look for rub marks along your baseboards where the rats may run parallel to the wall.
Any combination of these signs should be considered a good indicator of a rat problem.
Most rat infestations on urban property require professional treatment. You must act quickly to minimize the property damage, structural undermining, and health risks posed by a rat infestation.
Contact us to learn more about treatment.