According to the University of California’s statewide Integrated Pest Management Program, “Rats are some of the most troublesome and damaging rodents in the United States. They eat and contaminate food, damage structures and property, and transmit parasites and diseases to other animals and humans. Rats live and thrive in a wide variety of climates and conditions and are often found in and around homes and other buildings, on farms, and in gardens and open fields.
Because rats are active throughout the year, periodically check for signs of their presence. Once rats have invaded your garden or landscaping, unless your house is truly rodent proof, it is only a matter of time before you find evidence of them indoors. Experience has shown it is less time consuming to control rodents before their numbers get too high, and fewer traps and less bait will be required if control is started early.
Inspect your yard and home thoroughly. If the answer to any of the following questions is yes, you may have a rat problem.
- Do you find droppings around dog or cat dishes or pet food storage containers?
- Do you hear noises coming from the attic just after dusk?
- Have you found remnants of rat nests when dismantling your firewood stack?
- Does your dog or cat bring home dead rat carcasses?
- Is there evidence rodents are feeding on fruit/nuts that are in or falling from the trees in your yard?
- Do you see burrows among plants or damaged vegetables when working in the garden?
- Do you see rats traveling along utility lines or on the tops of fences at dusk or soon after?
- Have you found rat nests behind boxes or in drawers in the garage?
- Are there smudge marks caused by the rats rubbing their fur against beams, rafters, pipes, and walls?
- Do you see burrows beneath your compost pile or beneath the garbage can?
- Are there rat or mouse droppings in your recycle bins?
- Have you ever had to remove a drowned rat from your swimming pool or hot tub?
- Do you see evidence of something digging under your garden tool shed or doghouse?”