The Gnawing issue of Winter Rat Infestations
As the colder weather begins to bite, residents in the UK may find themselves with unwanted winter guests. Due to their small stomachs and fast metabolisms, rats cannot hibernate during the colder months. To survive cold weather conditions and food scarcity, rats require shelter, warmth and a reliable food supply. This is when our warm houses and full cupboards begin to look extremely appealing. Avon Pest Control can see an increase in rat related call outs during the winter months for this very reason, but this year, there is an additional consideration.
A recent article in The Metro reports fears that 120,000,000 rats could invade homes during the winter months, as rodents have been forced above ground due to the UK’s recent heavy rainfall.
Property Damage that will Chew through Your Wallet
Beside the troubling fact that rats can spread disease via their faeces and urine, and, albeit rarely, through biting humans and pets, they can also cause a lot of damage. Rats incisor teeth grow continuously across their lifespan; therefore, they need to gnaw to keep them worn down and functional. Rat’s teeth are incredibly strong; measured against the Mohs scale of hardness , rat’s teeth rank 5.5, which is higher than steel!
These powerful nashers can cause a lot of damage including structurally weakening buildings by chewing through timber, pipes, and brickwork. They can also start fires by gnawing through electrical wiring. And, to add insult to injury, many home insurance household policies exclude damage by vermin.
Because their incisors never stop growing! Rats must gnaw (chew) on things constantly to wear their teeth down. If their teeth were allowed to grow unchecked, they would grow continuously in a spiral at an 86 degree angle, making it impossible for the rat to close its mouth or eat, resulting in death.
Gnaw Marks – a Tell-tail Sign of Rats
Brown rats (Rattus Norvegicus) make a grinding sound with their teeth when they gnaw, which is one of their identifiable features. Check for bitten, damaged food packaging and teeth marks in wood and soft metals.
Are you hearing Strange Noises in your home at Night? – another Tell-tail Sign Rats moved in
Rats make a combination of squeaking, hissing, and chattering sounds. They can communicate different emotions depending on the frequency of the noise. Often, squeaks or hisses signify that a rat is afraid or in pain.
The pests also chomp and grind their teeth. Mice and rats are nocturnal, so if they’re in your home, you’ll most likely hear their sounds at night or right as you’re heading to bed.
If you just moved into a property and started to hear horrible noises, 20 seconds of “pfft-pfft-pfft” followed by silence … and then more of the same. If so you might want to consider contacting a pest exterminator.
Avon Pest Control recommends
- Seal entry points – winter rats can gnaw around tiny holes to make entry points large enough to squeeze through, therefore it is important to block even small holes in interior and exterior floors and walls to help hinder their access to your property.
- Remove water and food sources – use a solid kitchen bin with a strong lid, keep food, including pet food, in metal or glass containers with secure lids
- Keep your property tidy inside and out – do not leave leftovers out in the kitchen, tidy up clothing from floors and sort out your basement and loft spaces! Less mess means fewer hiding places.
- Move any compost piles away from your property.
- Remove ivy from walls and trim any tree branches that grow near your roof – they can provide a quick and easy way for rats to climb into your property
If winter rats are causing a problem, it is important you act quickly as they can breed at an overwhelming rate.
Don’t bite off more than you can chew…let Avon Pest Control sort it for you.