grey rat eating a bit of melted chocolate

Signs You Have Rats in Your Home

If you wonder if you have rats in your home, there are some telltale signs that you need to bear in mind. If there are rats in your home, you likely will detect more than one of these signs.

Rat Droppings

One of the primary signs that you have rats in your home is the presence of rat droppings. Fresh rat droppings are dark and moist. Older rat droppings dry out and become gray in color. Dried rat droppings easily crumble and can be dangerous (which will be discussed in a moment).

Rat droppings are most likely found in one of these areas:

  • Near food
  • In drawers
  • In Cupboards
  • Under sinks
  • Along rat runways (common rodent travel routes)
  • Near nesting areas


Gnawing marks represent another sign that you have rats in your home. Rat gnawing can be found on food packaging. Gnawing can also be found on the structure of the house itself. It might also appear on furniture items.

Fresh gnawing tends to be lighter in color. Gnaw marks darken over time. Lighter color gnaw marks are indicative of an existing infestation of rats.

Foul Odor

When it comes to a foul odor associated with rats, a cat or dog may notice it first. If your cat or dog becomes active and excited in a particular area of your home (that your pet ignored previously), this may be indicative of rat infestation.

As a rat infestation grows, you will begin to detect an ongoing musky or stale smell. If the odor persists, you likely have an ongoing rat infestation.

Rat Tracks and Runways

Rats tend to be more active at nighttime. However, as an infestation grows in number, rats will venture about in the daytime as well.

Rats tend to travel along walls. You may be able to identify smudge marks, urine stains, droppings, or even footprints.

One way you can attempt to confirm a rate runway is to spread a thin layer of baby powder or flour over the area. If you have active rats in your home, you are likely to their trails in the baby powder or flour.

Rat Nests

Rats use materials like fabric, dried plant matter, or shredded paper to make nests. If you discover nests, you either have had or currently, have a rat issue in your home. Other signs may help you ascertain whether the infestation is current.


Rats routinely nest in spaces between what is known as “framing members” in the walls, under the floors, or in the attic of your home. Thus, if you start to hear sounds coming from your wall, under the floor, or in the attic, you may have a rat infestation.

The type of sound you are most likely to hear is scratching. This occurs when rats are traveling from one spot to another in the walls, under the floor, or in the attic. Prolonged scratching may indicate that a rat has somehow become stuck.

Signs of Rodents in Your Yard

You may also experience signs of rats in your yard. Rats are attracted to organic waste and piles of trash. They are also attracted to items that may provide nesting materials.

The best way to address issues of rodents outside your home is to make sure trashcans are sealed and that nothing that might prove attractive to rats are left lying about. By taking a proactive approach outside of your home, you likely will prevent an infestation inside your home in the future.

Size of Rodent Population in Your Home

There are signs that can provide you an idea of the size of a rat population in your home. If rodents are seen at night, but never during the day, you likely have a smaller rat population in your home. If you have started seeing rats during the day, together with fresh droppings and new gnaw marks, the rat population at your home is likely quite large. Professional services are recommended.

The Danger of Rat Droppings

You must understand, rat droppings can prove to be very dangerous. Rat droppings can contain dangerous pathogens that can cause serious disease.

Rat droppings become even more dangerous as they dry. As mentioned previously, dried rat droppings crumble easily. When the crumble, they release dust into the air. Viruses and bacteria that can cause serious or even fatal disease can be contained in the dust that becomes airborne. A person encountering the dust can end up breathing it in and become infected with a serious disease. Diseases that are carried in rat droppings include:

  • Hantavirus: This virus is spread through rodent droppings, urine, and saliva. If rat droppings are merely “swept up,” dust containing hantavirus infiltrates the surrounding air, which ends up being inhaled, and cause a potentially fatal illness.
  • Salmonellosis: This is a type of food poisoning that occurs when consumable items are contaminated by rat droppings.
  • Rat Bite Fever: This is a potentially fatal disease spread not only via a rodent bite but also via food contaminated with rat feces, urine, or saliva.

Because of the serious nature of rat droppings, professional rat droppings cleanup assistance is highly recommended. This requires a specialist with experience in biohazard remediation.