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Rats communicate and mark their territory by urinating everywhere they go, representing a significant public health risk. They can carry many nasty diseases, which can spread to humans, normally through rats’ urine or body coming into contact with food preparation areas. These include: Leptospirosis (often referred to as Weil's disease), Salmonella, Listeria, Toxoplasma gondii & Hantavirus.

The problems associated with rats are not just limited to public health. They also have a knack for causing structural damage. Rats have to gnaw in order to keep their teeth in shape, and they’re not shy about what they gnaw on. Common ‘gnaw-spots’ include the sheathing around electrical cables, which present a significant fire risk, and pipes, which is likely to result in leaks, both water and gas Cinderblock, wood, glass, metal, bone - rats’ teeth will take on pretty much any challenge, which is why they can cause untold damage to both homes, businesses and the occasional finger. Flooding from gnawed pipes and electrical fires from chewed wires may be associated with rat infestations.

Rats around businesses

Property owners have a legal obligation to keep premises rodent free, or, if rodents pose a threat to health or property, to report infestations to the local authority. And if a company or organisation has a highly publicised rat problem, then it will heavily impact its reputation. Poor reviews of businesses or products are easily viewed and shared online. A rat spotted running through a restaurant can mean the end of the road for that establishment, while no-one wants to share a hotel swimming pool with a bathing rodent.

And aside from the reputational costs, there are also fines for businesses found to have a pest problem. These usually come at a significant expense and repeat offenders are in danger of facing legal action. Environmental Health Officers can issue enforcement notices to business owners who don’t have adequate pest management procedures in place. 

Rats around the home

It goes without saying that rat infestations can have a devastating impact on personal wellbeing.

Aside from the health risks, the sound of them scuttling around the home, the evidence of their presence and the damage they can cause do little to help householders sleep easy. Musophobia or murophobia is a fear of mice or rats, one of the most common specific phobias

Types of rat in Ireland

There are two species of rat in Ireland, the most common of which is Rattus Norvegicus, otherwise known as the Brown Rat. The other is Rattus Rattus, commonly referred to as the Black Rat or Roof Rat.  Home for the brown rat is somewhere that provides food, water and shelter. In homes, they will live in roof spaces, wall cavities or under floorboards. In gardens, they will burrow into grassy banks or under sheds. Rat holes beside solid structures are sure signs of a nest. Brown rats are also often found living in sewer systems. Black rats are rarer but occasionally found. They are also incredibly agile and so may be found nesting in roof spaces or attics.

One of the most common signs that rats have paid a visit is their faeces, which are dark and pellet-shaped, and look like large grains of rice. These tend to be clustered in certain areas, as rats often use the same spot to do their business and can leave up to 40 droppings in one night. Another clue can be gnawing marks on electrical cables, woodwork, plastic, brick and lead pipes, as well as torn bags of foodstuff and materials In dusty, unused areas of a building, rats often leave footprints or tail marks. Rats can also leave a more unusual calling card; a greasy residue professionals call ‘smear marks’. Smear marks occur from their coats rubbing on the walls as they make their way along these trails to their nest or in search of food.

You may also be able to hear the rats scratching, gnawing and scuttling around. Brown rats are prone to grinding their teeth and chattering when stressed, both very distinctive sounds. Rats can only see up to a distance of around 1 metre, so use tried and tested routes along walls to find their way.

Why are rats more common in autumn?

In late summer/early autumn harvests are taking place and crops are ripened. Temperatures are warm and rodents have plenty of vegetation in which to hide from potential predators. As temperatures begin to drop and food becomes scarce, rats will begin looking for shelter and scraps in more urban locations. And as autumn and winter push on, rats start to head indoors.

Although usually nocturnal, the need to survive often means they will be spotted during daylight hours in these months, as they become more bold in their search for food and somewhere warm to hide from the chill.

Mating and lifespan

If environmental conditions are preferable, a female rat can reproduce every six weeks with litters consisting of 6-8 offspring. Each part of the cycle takes 21 days on average. When a female rat is impregnated, the gestation period lasts for around 21 days. Rats are mammals and so they give birth to live young called pups. It then takes 21 days to wean those pups. During this time the female rat will also go through what is known as postpartum estrus, which occurs 10 to 24 hours following the birth. This means that a rat can become pregnant very quickly after giving birth, which is one of the reasons that a rat infestation can grow quickly out of control.

Newborns can become sexually mature after only 5 weeks, at which point they can spawn their own broods.This means that a pair of brown rats could potentially produce as many as 200 babies and 2,000 descendants in just one year, maybe more. Due to predation and other challenges, wild rats live for around a year on average. In contrast, pet rats have a longer lifespan; without the threat from natural predators, and with a constant supply of food and care, domesticated rats often live between two to three years.

Other characteristics

A rat’s tail is often the part that makes most people squeamish, but offers several functions.

It provides balance and stability, when rats need to perform a physical task. And it regulates their body temperature, as it contains a rich blood supply close to the surface. Due to their poor eyesight, rats rely heavily on their whiskers - believed to be as receptive as a human’s fingertips - to feel the world around them. Rats may not have the best eyesight, but they have a well-developed sense of smell, taste and touch. They also have an acute sense of hearing, frequently using ultrasound to communicate, which is especially sensitive to any sudden noise.

Rats are social animals, so if you see one rat then there are likely to be more nearby. Rats have the ability to jump around three feet into the air, four feet horizontally and can fall from a height of up to 50 feet without getting injured. They are also incredible climbers; brick walls, telephone poles, even legs!

Exterminate Pest Guide For Rats Dublin | Kildare | Wicklow

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For any rat infestation contact Exterminate a Professional Pest Control Company. Exterminate are Skilled In Rat Control and will have access to a range of professional use rodenticides and tools, which are not available to the public. Knowing how much, where, and when to deploy products is where professionals are able to take control of situations efficiently. There’s also a growing issue with resistance, due to incorrect choice of rodenticide or widespread use by members of the public.

Exterminate Professional Pest Controllers will take an integrated pest management (IPM) approach to tackling your infestation.Exterminate have access to monitoring equipment, which we will use to confirm entry points into your property, the size of the infestation and to track the rat to its harbourage (nest). Exterminate recommends a proofing strategy and decide on the best course of action in terms of control; this could be traps, rodenticides or a combination of both.

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