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When rats come onto your property, they may live in your yard or they may enter structures. In either case, they're going to cause trouble. It is best to catch rat activity early and address the problem before trouble begins. Outside, it is often hard to detect rats because they prefer nighttime activity. You need to know where to look for warning signs during the day. When they find a route into a structure, they can go in and out continually without making a sound. If you're hearing sounds such as scratching and bumping in your walls, you might want to thank your rats. They are alerting you to a problem that you should correct. But what do you do when they don't make sounds? Also, if you uncover evidence of a rat infestation, what is the best way to get rid of rats fast? Let's look at how to detect a rat infestation, why rats infest, and how to get rid of rats. As always, we want to remind you that you don't have to read an article about pest control to get control of pests. You can jump to our contact page at any time and reach out to us for industry-leading pest control in Houston. We are standing by to assist you with all your pest concerns. Now, let's dig into our topic.

Do I Have A Rat Infestation?

When rats come onto your property and sneak around, how can you tell? Are the signs of rats moving about on your property obvious? They can be. You just need to know what to look for and where to look. These signs may not only help you tell that you have an infestation but they may also tell you that rats are the particular pest that has invaded your property. 

Droppings: Rats leave their waste everywhere they go. You can find droppings along routes the rats are using to get inside, and you can find where rats are nesting or exploring on the inside. But rats aren't the only pests that leave droppings. How can you tell rat droppings from the droppings of other animals?

  • When you find dropping anywhere indoors and outside of attic spaces, they are likely rodent droppings if they're larger than grains of pepper.
  • You can use size to tell the difference between rat droppings and the droppings of mice and chipmunks. Rats create droppings that are slightly larger and fatter than grains of white rice. Mice and chipmunks create droppings that are half the size of white rice.
  • When you find droppings outside, you may have greater difficulty determining what animal is leaving the droppings. Rat droppings are dark brown or black. They typically have a shiny appearance and are between ½ and ¾ of an inch long. You'll find these dropping close to structures or in voids underneath structures.  

Holes: Rats chew holes to get inside and they chew holes to move from wall voids to food storage areas. These holes may indicate that you have a rat problem. Look for damage to weatherstripping, door sweeps, wood, and other building materials. Here are two ways to tell that rats are making the holes. 

  • A rat needs a hole larger than a quarter. Mice and chipmunks can fit through smaller holes. When you find big holes, it is an indication that you have big rodents.
  • Rats eat hearty things, such as dog food, cheese, and meat. While not always conclusive, you might be able to rule mice out if you're finding holes in food packages that contain things mice don't prefer to eat. Mice will get into seeds, grains, fruits, and nuts more readily than meat.
  • Norway rats (the brown ones) can create holes in the ground. If you find holes near a pile of stuff in your backyard, you likely have these rats in your yard. They prefer to create burrows under garbage, trash, and debris. 

Grease Marks: When rats go in and out of their holes and run along baseboards, they can leave a black stain. As you look for rat activity, grease marks can help you track routes. When you find grease, clean the surfaces and check back in a day or two. You'll know you have rat activity if you find more grease marks. 

Odors: Rats and mice can make your home smell bad. Both types of animals leave urine as they explore. There is little distinction between rat and mouse urine. Both have an ammonia-like scent.

When you detect rats on or inside your property, what is the next step? Is it time to contact a licensed professional? Not necessarily. You may be able to make the rats go away if they're just in your yard. The secret is in understanding what rats in Houston are looking for on your property.

What Causes A Rat Infestation?

Rats are looking for food, water, and harborage. When they can't find these, they move on. Let's take a quick look at each.

Food: Rats eat many things that might surprise you. They eat nuts and fruit that fall from trees, bird seed from bird feeders, dog and cat food, bugs, decaying food inside your trash receptacles, dog droppings, and more. Urban rats eat whatever they can find, even if it isn't quite palatable.   

Water: Rats aren't picky about where they get a drink of water. They're fine to drink from a puddle or a stagnant water source in a container. 

Harborage: Rats use structures as they would a tree hole, stump void, or ground hole. A home, business, shed, barn, and other structures are ideal for creating protected nests. They're also attracted to dense vegetation, voids underneath structures, yard clutter, and other hiding places.

The secret to driving rats away is to address these attractants in meaningful ways. Let's look at six pest control tips that will help you do this. 

Here Are Six Tips For Dealing With A Rat Infestation

Rats only do what comes naturally, which is why it is possible to manage rats naturally. Here's how you can address food, water, and harborage.

  • Remove objects that are in your yard or near your exterior walls. Rats have poor eyesight and use objects in your yard for navigation. When you remove clutter, you make it harder for rats to move about on your property. You also remove potential hiding places.
  • Manage your trash and food sources. Dirty trash receptacles can attract rats from a distance. You can prevent these smells by removing trash from your property weekly and deodorizing your receptacles if you fail to get them to the curb and trash sits for a week. Move bird feeders away from your exterior walls to keep rats far away. Pick up nuts and fruit that fall from trees. Protect berries and vegetables with fencing material. 
  • Address moisture problems. Clean gutters, fix plumbing issues, remove containers that capture water, trim landscape vegetation, and take other steps to reduce moisture. Doing so can make puddles disappear quickly after rainstorms and remove drinking holes for rats. 
  • Seal potential entry points. Every structure on your property is a potential harborage location for rats. Use a caulking gun, can of spray foam, metal flashing, and steel wool to keep rodents out of structures.
  • Seal voids underneath structures. Fencing material can prevent rats from getting under decks, patios, stairs, and other exterior structures. It is best to keep rodents out of these areas because they don't just use them as a location to establish nests. They use the cover to chew through sole plates and get inside. 
  • Remove access routes. Roof rats climb trees and get into structures by way of vulnerabilities on the roof. Cut tree branches that hang near your roofline and put steel wool in the downspouts of your gutter system to prevent these rats from getting onto your roof.

These tips can work to drive rats away and also prevent rats from selecting your yard to infest. We hope this is all you need to do. But sometimes, rats are persistent. 

What Does All-Safe Pest & Termite Do About Rats On My Property?


When rat pressures are high, conducive conditions are hard to control. If rats have gotten inside, it is time to contact All-Safe Pest & Termite for a solution. Our service team uses field-tested methods to get complete control of rodents.

  • We inspect your property to locate activity, routes, and entry points.
  • We apply tamper-resistant rodent stations to cull the rodent population and monitor activity. 
  • We seal entry points with professional-grade materials to block access and keep rodents out. 
  • We provide the necessary follow-up visits to ensure no rodents remain in your structure or are active on your property.
  • While we don't offer sanitation services, we provide recommendations that can help you prevent future infestations.

Is your home or business in Houston? Connect with All-Safe Pest & Termite for rodent control solutions. We offer the best way to get rid of rats outside and remove rats from inside. We're here to help.     

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