Identifying the Pest
A rat's nocturnal habits and dark fur can make identification difficult. Often mistaken for mice, rats are actually much larger than other household pests, and the typical male weighs around 500 grams and measures about 1 foot (30cm) in length. Typically, however, a sighting is not needed as there are many other signs of a rat infestation.
There are many warning signs that can indicate a rat infestation.
Hearing scratching noises in walls, floors and ceilings
Finding sausage-shaped droppings that are around 12mm in length
Discovering gnawed walls, floors and cables, as well as ripped food packaging
Signs of nesting made from piles of shredded newspaper and cardboard
Tracks where they have walked over dusty floors and left marks with their dragging tail
Grease smears on skirting boards etc, left as they brush past with their greasy bodies
If the signs of an infestation are present, there are many different ways to effectively treat the problem.
Calling Council Pest Control
Some local authorities and councils offer a pest control service. For a large fee, technicians will visit domestic properties to identify the problem and start treating the infestation. As rats need to be baited with poison, the treatment can take weeks and several visits, but the technicians will ensure the infestation has been properly eliminated. This can be very expensive but with less and less local authorities having pest control departments this leaves you with the option of private pest control firms, which can be as expensive or DIY pest control.
A rat repellent system uses ultrasonic noise to distress rodents. The noise disturbs mice and rat's living patterns and drives them away, but household pets like dogs and cats are unaffected (although they shouldn't be used with hamsters or gerbils). These systems are effective, humane and easy to use.
How to Keep Rats Away
The best deterrent for keeping rats away is to make households and buildings as unappealing as possible. Rats are always on the lookout for food, so keep everywhere as clean and tidy as possible, paying particular attention to kitchen surfaces and areas near cookers and fridges. Never leave food out and keep it in airtight containers. This includes pet food and, if pets are feed outdoors, always remove their food bowls after feeding.