A frustrating and potentially dangerous situation is a rat infestation. A rat infestation can result in damage to your home or business, can negatively impact the overall livability or usability of a property, and can present a very real, profound health threat to your family and those who patronize your business. As a consequence, it is important for you to understand the essential facts about a rat infestation.
What Are Rats?
If you are like most people, you’ve developed a general idea about a rat. You know what a rat basically looks like. You maintain at least some idea about where and how they might live.
If you ever face a time in which you need to address a rat infestation in your home, you really would benefit by having a bit more “technical” information about rats. The best-known rats species that are likely to be found in Southern California and much of the United States are the Rattus rattus and the Rattus norvegicus. The Rattus rattus is colloquially known as the black rat while the Rattus norvegicus is known as the brown rate. Collectively, both species are referred to as Old World rats or true rats.
In the wild, a rat rarely will end up weighing much over a pound. In the grand scheme of things, rats and mice are divided by size, with mice being classified as they are because they are effectively smaller versions of rats.
Male rats are known as bucks while unmated female rats are called does. Pregnant rats or females with offspring are referred to as dams. Infant rats, born hairless and blind, are called kittens or pups. A group of rats – an infestation of rats – is called a mischief.
Common Signs of Rat Infestation
Recognizing the existence of a rat infestation can prove difficult in some cases. By their very nature, rats strive to mask their whereabouts, particularly the area in which they nest. With that said, there can be some signs that you have a rat infestation in your home.
One of the most commonplace signs that you have a rat infestation is the presence of droppings. If you come upon rat droppings, you must take care not to make contact with them, particularly if they are dry. Dry rat droppings are gray in appearance and may even have something of a chalky look to them. Dry rat droppings crumble very easily, which can result in pathogens – or harmful substances – in these feces to become airborne. If that happens, and as will be discussed in a moment, a person could become infected with a virus capable of causing a serious disease.
Other common signs of a rat infestation include evidence of gnawing on our residence itself or on different objects in or around your home. In some cases, at about the time the sun sets and onward into the evening, you may hear the sounds of rats moving about. You may hear a scurrying sound. Depending on the type of rat you find yourself dealing with, you might hear these scurrying sounds in walls or in the attic. On occasion, you may also hear rats squeak or squeal.
The reality is that you may not see evidence of rats in your house if their population is small. By the time you actually begin to see evidence of rats, the infestation is likely to have become significant.
The Health Dangers Presented by Rats
Rats present what are truly serious health dangers in some instances. The sincerely hazardous hantavirus provides a good illustration of a serious potential health hazard presented by rats.
The hantavirus can be found in rat droppings, including older, dried ones. As noted previously, old and dry rat droppings are particularly dangerous. This is because they have the propensity to crumble really easily. When they crumble, feces dust – and pathogens found in the droppings – become airborne. If a rat carries the hantavirus, that becomes airborne and can be breathed in by a human.
If that occurs, a person can end up infected with the hantavirus and face the prospect of being diagnosed with hantavirus pulmonary syndrome. This is a disease that results in the death of about 30 percent of the individuals who receive a diagnosis of hantavirus pulmonary syndrome.
While there are rat repellant and eradication products on the market today, these products tend to have a couple of things in common. First, they are not necessarily wholly effective. Second, they really do not provide a permanent solution to the issue of rats in your residence. For this, a home or business owner nearly always is wise to hire an experienced rat exterminator or eradicator.
Eliminating Rat Droppings – Safely
Because of the challenges associated with eradicating rats in a residence (or any location for that matter), coupled with the potential health risks associated with these rodents and their droppings, many people hire a professional biohazard remediation service to deal with this type of cleanup. A seasoned professional ensures that a rat dropping cleanup is safely and adequately undertaken and completed.