Signs of Rats
Generally, rats won’t be seen during the day as they are predominantly nocturnal.
A homeowner is more likely to see the evidence they leave behind rather than the actual rats themselves.
There are a number of signs you can look for to help determine if you have rat activity in your home which could lead to greater problems from these pests.
If you suspect that you have seen signs of rats on your property, call Ehrlich Pest Control free at for further advice on rats or to arrange a free pest inspection.
Signs of Rats in your Home
- Rat droppings – small, dark droppings particularly along walls, in cupboards or under sinks. Rat droppings are one of the most striking signs of rat infestation. If the droppings are still soft and shiny, it can be concluded on an active infestation. A rat produces about 40 droppings a day. The presence of large and small rat droppings in the same shape indicates that the rats grow in the area. Rat droppings are usually ½ inch to ¾ inch long.
- Dirty smudges on floors or skirting board - rats tend to run alongside walls as they don’t have great eyesight. Within a property, rats often use the same walkways between their harborage and food or water sources, leaving behind deposits of dirt, dust and urine. These smudge tracks are a clear sign of an infestation and often lead to a rat feeding area or nest.
- Distinctive smell – rats leave an ammonia-like smell that will be particularly strong in more enclosed areas such as in cupboards. The smell is produced by special glands which rats use for marking walkways, kin recognition and reproduction.
- Rat damage – rats have teeth that grow continuously and will gnaw on wood, plastic, cables and other hard materials to keep their teeth shorter. They will also steal softer materials for nesting. These gnawing marks can be relatively easily detected – a rat’s gnawing incisors leave two parallel, slightly recessed grooves that are about 4 mm apart.
Rats will gnaw on electric cables and have been found responsible for causing a number of house fires as a result. Gnawing marks are brighter and show sharp contours. Old gnawing marks, however, are darker and more rounded.
- Scratching noises in the walls or ceilings as mice scurry around. You might also hear them squeaking or gnawing.
- Rat nests – rats build nests with shredded material such as newspaper and fabrics. These will tend to be in hidden places such as behind fridges. Nests will often contain their offspring. Rats are also known to build nests in gardens, often in compost heaps or under gazebos.
Rats in Your Yard
Rats in the yard and outside can also present tremendous risk, particularly since those areas are visited by children and pets. Some rat species, including Brown rats (also known as Norway rats), prefer nest in the ground. Rats will be attracted to areas that will provide them a suitable habitat. Junk piles containing wood or metal are highly attractive to rats as they will feel safe in these areas.
Rats burrows typically contain two holes that the rats use to enter and exit the burrow. Most burrows are 2-3 inches in diameter and are generally very round in shape.
They can also significantly undermine hill sides, retaining walls and other similar structures through their burrowing activity. A crucial step in eliminating rats in your home is to remove whatever is attracting them to your home in the first place.
Checking for Signs of Rats
Below are some of our tips to help you find out if you have a rat infestation:
- Lay some talcum powder or plain flour along the edge of the floor by the walls or on surfaces close to where you think the nest might be. You’ll notice tracks in the powder within a few days if the nest is close.
- If you can hear rat activity in the walls this can be a good indicator of where the nest is; rats tend to stay as close to the nest as possible even when foraging for food.
If you suspect you already have rats, find out more about how to get rid of rats in your home.