7 Ways Rats Are Destroying Your Home, and What to Do About It
Get rid of rats to prevent the spread of disease as well as the damage they can do to your home. Identify their habits and change yours to keep them away.
Many homeowners enjoy seeing the occasional wildlife on their property – until said wildlife infiltrates their home and damages it. Warmer, wetter weather means rat populations are on the rise. Deserving of their dreadful reputation as destructive vermin, rats can – and do – chew through almost anything, largely because they have to as a way to “trim” their ever-growing incisors.
Beyond destroying property, they can carry disease. Whether or not rats were responsible for the 14th century plague, these rodents carry pathogens that can spread disease to humans – particularly, hantavirus, a rare infectious disease that can cause deadly heart and lung issues.
1. PEX Pipe Problems
Cross-linked polyethylene pipe was plumbing’s answer to pricey copper and galvanized steel piping because it doesn’t corrode, it doesn’t require soldering, and it expands to avoid freezing. However, this affordable, flexible plastic tubing is susceptible to mice and rats, who can chew through it, with disastrous results.
Seal openings around vent pipes and clear clutter around the house to keep them out. At the first sign of pesky rodents – droppings, chewed wood, shredded items – call one of the best pest control companies such as Orkin or Terminix.
RELATED: How To Get Rid of Rats
2. Heavy Metal Munchers
Can rats chew through metal? You betcha! While it’s important to clean up and safely dispose of food waste and properly store leftovers (including pet food), it can be disconcerting to know that rats can easily chomp through soft metals, such as lead, tin, and aluminum. So it’s important to carefully select storage vessels that deter rats’ insatiable appetites.
Securely sealing containers of food, pet food, bird seed, and grass seed will contain odors that attract rats. It’s important to do the same when disposing of pet waste.
RELATED: The Best Rat Repellents
3. Nerves of Steel
Some particularly strong – and determined – rats can chew through steel. Not only can this ruin steel pipes, it also means they may be able to escape steel traps.
There are several types of traps. Glue traps may be effective, but are inherently cruel because they cause the animal to suffer for an extended period. Poison may cause problems with pets and other wildlife. Snap traps kill instantly. Live traps like Havahart can catch other animals and will require relocation of the captive.
RELATED: The Best Rat Traps
4. Concrete Conclusions
It’s not commonly known, but rats can chew through concrete—soft concrete, like that used in cinder blocks. Fortunately, however, they are usually unable to gnaw through solid concrete, especially if it’s been acid-washed. If your home is on a slab, that will offer protection.
Concrete, ceramic, or stone flooring in garages, sheds, and other storage and out buildings will help prevent an infestation of rats. This can help prevent rats chewing car wires.
5. Softer Side
Rats chew to access and eat food, but they can also be destructive by shredding softer material to use in their nests. If you don’t want rats chewing clothes or insulation, the best solution is to “rodent-proof” your home. In addition to securely storing food and trash, seal cracks and gaps with copper wool (because they can chew through caulk and steel wool), and declutter to eliminate hiding and nesting areas.
Some people have success with ultrasonic repellents or humane decoys.
6. Creepy Crawl Spaces
To get rid of rats, first you have to find them. Many types nest in attics and chimneys, but Norway rats typically nest in the ground or crawl space. With rats living in areas you rarely see, they can do a lot of damage before you discover them.
Learn to identify their droppings so you can track them. Look in dark corners and out-of-the-way spaces that provide privacy or are near a food source.
7. For the Birds
Rats are nocturnal and will visit your bird feeders after your feathered friends have gone to bed. To deter pesky rodents from gobbling up expensive bird feed, choose the right kind of bird feeder and hang it away from fences and garden furniture. Fill up the bird feeder early in the day so it’s consumed before darkness sets in.
You can also plant rodent-repelling plants nearby, such as mint, sage, rosemary, mums, daffodils, and geraniums.