May 11, 2020 / Rodents

What Happens to Urban Rats When the Humans Stay Home?

An urban rat crawling through pipes

You might think of city rats as second-hand grocery shoppers – they feast off of everything we humans are finished with. Both the trash we throw away (and the litter that some people don’t) becomes a smorgasbord for urban rats. So, what happens when humans stay home and trash cans remain empty?

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When Rats Turn Ravenous

Rats are smart, and they are experts at adapting to their conditions in order to survive. Just like humans, if rats can’t find food in their usual places, they look somewhere else until they find it again.

Since stay-at-home orders have been put into place, rats across the country have been taking to the streets in droves, causing many cities to fight back, like New Orleans. The city is setting bait as part of an aggressive pest control program. Washington, D.C. explicitly designated pest control workers as essential to ensure there’s enough manpower to control the rodent population.

Which is crucial, because they’ve started to discover another, previously-hidden store of food – and they’ve gotten quite aggressive about getting into it: residential homes.

Our homes are plush with tasty treats that not only appeal to us, but to rats as well. Once a roving band of rogue rodents sniffs out your home full of goodies, they immediately begin trying to weasel their way inside. They’ll squeeze through tiny cracks, gnaw away barriers and do just about anything they can to get inside your home so they can eat your food.

This is not only bad for your personal food supply, but could also put you and your family’s health at risk. 

Worldwide, there are more than 35 diseases spread both directly and indirectly by rodents, including rats. Common rodent-borne illnesses include hantavirus, Lassa fever, Salmonellosis and the Plague. Rats can also carry ticks, which are also significant vectors of diseases such as Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

Outsmarting Rats in Search of Snacks

There are a few things you can do to make your home less appealing to rats. First, make sure all food – including pet food – is stored in airtight containers, not just in bags or cartons. Keep garbage bins sealed with lids and parked as far away from your house as possible. Clean up any food messes, inside and outside, as soon as they happen. And that means no spreading birdseed or other wild animal feed either – not even in feeders.

If you do encounter a rat (or multiple rats), it’s important to call a pest control professional as soon as possible to avoid a worsening problem. Rats are hard enough to prevent on your own, but they’re next to impossible to get rid of without the kind of techniques and materials only a licensed pest control professional is qualified to use against them.

Whether you’re looking to get them out or keep them out, you’re going to want a professional’s help on this one. For more information on how to best manage these pests, check out our rodent control page.

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