Portland-area residents have been dealing with rats ever since the late 1800s when the Brown Rat first arrived in the PNW from Southeast Asia. Today, rats are incredibly common throughout the city. In fact, Portland was recently ranked number 17 in Orkin’s annual list of most rat-infested cities in the US!
Even though Portland has more or less learned to live in harmony with its population of Rodentia, no one wants to actually “live” with them. The good news is, keeping rats out of your home is easier than you think. Plus, we’re here to help you along the way.
In today’s blog post, we’ll cover everything you need to know in order to successfully eliminate rats from your Portland area home.
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Understanding the Portland Rat
When it comes to keeping rats out of your home, having some background information about these critters is helpful.
The Difference Between a Rat vs. Mouse
People often get these two rodents confused, but there are some simple ways to tell them apart:
|Size||Large (13-18 inches)||Small (1-3 inches)|
|Tail||Thick and shorter than its body||Thin and same length or longer than its body|
|Ears||Small, relative to the head||Large, relative to the head|
|Nose||Large and wide||Narrow and sharp|
Can you tell the difference between a rat and mouse? Take this quiz to test your ability!
Common Rats in the PNW
The Norway Rat is one of the most common rat species here in the Pacific Northwest. Despite its name, the Norway Rat likely came from Asia. This type of rat is also sometimes called a House Rat, Sewer Rat, Wharf Rat, or Brown Rat.
A Norway Rat is typically brown or gray in color, has shaggy and coarse hair and a dark and scaly tail.
Roof Rats can also be found in the area. These rats are smaller than Norway Rats and are generally black in color. They also have smooth fur and fairly large and hairless ears.
What Do Rats Eat?
Rats don’t tend to be picky about their food choices. They are omnivorous and will munch on pretty much anything.
Even so, according to one study, some of a rat’s favorite foods include scrambled eggs and macaroni and cheese. Beets, on the other hand, are their least favorite food.
Are Rats Dangerous?
One question we hear a lot from our customers is, “Can a rat hurt me?” The answer is yes. Whether by biting you or spreading disease in your home, rats can be hazardous to your health.
Rats carry and can transmit several diseases, including:
These diseases can be spread through their urine, feces, saliva, and hair.
Rats can be unpredictable and may bite a human if confronted or provoked. Sadly, children are often the easy victims of rat bites. Thankfully, rat attacks aren’t very common here in the Portland area. As an example, between 2010 and 2012, Oregon registered just 17 rodent bites, and none of them were near Portland.
Warnings Signs of a Rat Infestation
Rats reproduce at an incredible rate. If you notice rats in your home, it’s important to take care of this issue as soon as possible. A handful of rats running around your home could turn into a massive infestation in no time at all.
Be on the lookout for these tell-tale signs of a rat problem in your home:
- Rat Droppings – Even a single Norway Rat can leave up to 30 droppings a day.
- Damaged Food Containers – As we mentioned, rats love food. They’ll stop at nothing to get to the tasty treats you have in your house. Watch for gnawed up cardboard food boxes, plastic bags, or other food containers.
- Sounds of Movement in Your Walls – At night (when rats are most active) you might start hearing rustling in your walls, floorboards, and ceiling.
- Dark Marks on Your Walls – Norway Rats often rub their oily fur along surfaces, leaving dark marks on your walls.
- Distracted Pets – Your dog or cat may become very interested in an otherwise uninteresting area of your home when they hear, smell, or see a rat.
How to Prevent Rats in Your Home
The best method for getting rid of rats is prevention. Here are the most effective steps you can take to keep rodents out of your home.
Stay on Top of Home Repairs
Keeping your home in top shape is important. Don’t let holes in your interior and exterior walls or flooring go untreated. Sealing up these spaces will prevent a rat from squeezing through. Plus, any hole at least one-quarter of an inch wide can be made larger by strong rat teeth.
Keep Rats Off Your Roof
Once a rat can access your roof, they’ll probably soon find a way (or make their own way) into your house. Don’t make it easy for them to get up there!
Pay special attention to your landscaping. Rats are great climbers and will often scurry up trees, branches, and ivy to get into your home. Ensure there aren’t any tree branches or bushes extending near or over your roof.
Cut back ivy along your house, and trim branches at least 4 feet from utility wires. Additionally, you may want to consider tree guards around the base of your tree trunks.
Maintain the Area Around Your Home
Beyond the structure of your home, keep your surrounding property clean and tidy. This means ensuring the lid stays on your trash can, not leaving animal food sitting out, and eliminating large areas of standing water around your home.
Store Food Properly
Inside your home, you should rat-proof your pantry and kitchen. First, make sure you use sealed containers for all your food items. Keep food containers off the floor and away from walls.
Get rid of old, spoiled foods and don’t let food sit out for long. Avoid letting dishes pile up in the sink, and always wipe down your counters at the end of the day. Use lids on your trash can.
Remember, hunger is the best contraceptive for rats. If they aren’t able to get enough food, the less likely they’ll be to reproduce or stick around your home.
What to Do If You Have a Rat Infestation
Getting rid of a rat problem once it’s started can be very difficult. There are several options you can try, but depending on the seriousness of your rat problem, these may or may not be effective. It’s always better to call an experienced Portland area exterminator for help.
Rat Snap Trap
This is a large wooden or plastic trap using some sort of bait. When the rat takes the bait, a metal bar will snap down on the rat and kill it. This is a good way to get rid of some rats but can be ineffective if you don’t place the trap in the right spot. And don’t get your finger caught in these traps as they have been known to break fingers!
A live trap lures a rat inside an enclosed area where it can’t escape. This method does not kill the rat, so you have to humanely kill the animal or release it away from your home after you’ve caught it. Keep in mind that handling a rat– especially when it’s alive– is dangerous.
Bait stations do not trap the rat. Instead, they use a poisonous bait to attract the rat. The active ingredient in the bait is only around ¼ of 1% so it has a delayed reaction of two to five days before the rat dies. This way, the other rats don’t associate the bait with dying and causing them to stay away.
Trying to eliminate a rat infestation on your own–especially if using poison– is dangerous to you and your family! Children and pets can accidentally come into contact with the poison. Plus, poisoned rats will often die in the walls of your house, causing your whole space to stink.
Get Rid of Rats in Your Home
If you’re facing a rat problem in your home, we can help! We’ve been helping Portland and Vancouver area homeowners eliminate rats for over 15 years and understand how to approach this issue effectively.
When you call us to help solve your rat problem, you can expect…
- A thorough rat inspection of your home and infestation analysis. We’ll explain our findings and recommend the most effective treatment plan.
- Expert rat-proofing. We’ll seal off and prevent any more rats from getting into your home.
- Eco-friendly and efficient extermination methods. Our team uses powerful rat traps to effectively and humanely move these rodents from your home. Our methods are safe for people and pets!
Ready to eliminate rats in your Portland or Vancouver home? Contact us today. We would love to help you.