Rat Problem And Control Strategies

Seskeha / August 25, 2015

What is the problem?         

Rats are troublesome and damaging pests in homes and in the food industries. They eat a variety of foods, including food that is stored in kitchen cupboards or the pantry. Rats can contaminate food with their waste, such as the droppings and urine that they leave behind, and this can lead to food poisoning such as Salmonella and E.coli. Rats can also damage structures and property and thrive in a wide variety.

How to tell if you have a rat infestation?

  • By checking areas within and outside of a home, a food establishment or a building for rat droppings, nests, and tracks. Rats are destructive and may gnaw on furniture, walls, floorboards and leaving rough holes.
  • Rats are also more active in the early evening and are sometimes heard scurrying about in attics, behind walls and other areas.
  • The appearance of an active infestation is seeing a live rat in or around a building or a food establishment. Finding dead rats in a kitchen, toilet, basement, attics, or garbage storage area can be indication of a rat infestation. 
  • Rats love to live in or around the garbage storage area, especially when garbage, food wastes and grease are not properly maintained and stored. Such environment gives rats food and shelter to start an infestation.

Can rats transmit diseases to human? 

Rats can transmit following communicable diseases to humans via their urine, feces, fleas and bites:

  • Food poisoning
  • Rat-bite fever (inflammation of the skin and fever or vomiting).
  • Plague - Caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis. Humans usually get plague after being bitten by a rodent flea that is carrying the plague bacterium.
  • Leptospirosis - A bacterial disease that is spread by rat urine to humans. Symptoms including fever, chills, jaundice, vomiting, muscle aches or rashes. If left untreated, leptospirosis can cause kidney damage and in rare cases, can even be fata

How to get rid of rats?

Rats are very hearty and adaptable creatures, so they are hard to get rid of. A rat can get through a hole the size of a 25 cents coin into a building and once rats get inside, they can start an infestation very fast. 

The following tips can help to prevent rat infestation in your home: 

1. Eliminate food and water sources

  • Keep all garbage in strong containers with tight fitting lids.
  • Do not add food scraps containing meat, bones, grease, and fish into the garden compost. Ensure the compost is tight fitting.
  • If pets are kept outside, remove leftover pet food and do not leave it outside overnight. 
  • Keep pet pens, enclosures and bird feeding areas free of wastes and spilled food.

2. Eliminate hiding places and shelters

  • Keep backyard tidy, trim lawn grass short and keep garden areas free of tall weeds.
  • Remove unused piles of firewood, lumber, old storage containers or garden sheds.
  • Keep firewood on stands at least 30 cm (12 inches) off the ground.
  • Check for rat burrows or holes regularly. A fresh dug burrow is an indication of an active rat infestation. Keep property clean and free of garbage and junks.

3.  Protect buildings

  • Build garden or storage sheds on concrete slabs or foundation.
  • Cover or fill holes on walls, doors and any area where rats can get into the building (using steel wool to fill holes first before covering with cement). Install screens in the garden compost.

4. Pest control

Trapping - If the rat population is small enough, trapping can yield quick results when done properly. Remember to dispose of the dead rats before their odour becomes a problem, especially in an inaccessible area such as behind a wall or ceiling.

Rodent baiting - Use poison baits or rodenticides can be dangerous if not careful. They should be used in areas where domestic animals and children cannot access them, but the best is to contact a licensed pest control company to do the job.

For more information: Please contact the Environmental Health Officer, Community Health Program- MCA at 613-575-2341 Ext 3226.