Identify common signs of rats to tell if you have a problem
Knowing you have a rat problem can be distressing, so it’s best to do everything you can to avoid the situation in the first place.
The best way to deter rats is to deny them access to food, water and shelter.
Unlike mice, they need daily access to a water source. They only drink between 15ml and 60ml of water a day, but they need access to it easily and consistently.
They’re renowned for eating just about anything, but they prefer to eat small amounts of a wide variety of foods, giving them a varied diet.
See our tips below on practical ways you can help to prevent a problem:
If you have already spotted signs of rats, such as droppings, prevention may already be too late.
We would advise you to act quickly to get rid of rats and prevent a large infestation.
Rats are nimble and make the most of any opportunity to enter your home.
Black rats are good climbers and will happily inhabit lofts.
Brown rats can climb but tend to burrow more.
They are very adept at swimming in sewers and drain systems. Both species will gnaw at gaps to enlarge them enough for easy entry.
Entrances - Young rats can squeeze through small gaps under doorways, so fit strips to the bottom of doors as a deterrent. They will also use cat flaps to get in and will enlarge gaps by gnawing to enter homes via integral garages.
Gaps in exterior walls - Holes or small openings (around utility cables or pipe work) need to be filled with stainless steel wire wool and caulking or concrete. Steel or aluminium plating can be used. Rats can jump, so check up to a height of about 4 feet.
Roofs - Rats climb along electrical cables or use overhanging branches to get into loft spaces and attics through gaps in broken roof tiles or under eaves. Repair roof damage and use wire mesh to seal gaps.
Drains and sewer pipes - Rats have been known to swim up damaged sewer pipes and get round u-bends in toilets, so get into the habit of keeping toilet seat lids closed. They will also use drain pipes and drainage outlets. Use tightly fitting metal grates or screens to cover drains, especially in basement areas. Regularly check pipe work and ensure any breakage is fixed immediately.