Rats top the list of the most hated pests. They are dirty, carry disease, bacteria, parasites and they bite! When they infest homes and businesses, they cause damage and contaminate food. Pest controllers are constantly at work trying to keep rats under control, particularly in the winter.

The vast population of rats is a huge problem. They reach sexual maturity at around 4-5 weeks of age, one female rat can produce up to 6 six litters of between five and twelve rats a year! This makes them incredibly successful breeders. Rats have a life expectancy between one and two years, even with such a short life span that rapid rate of reproduction by the rats means that a population of just two can quickly grow to around 1,250 in just one year.

You may think that the harsh cold winters may help towards dwindling rat numbers as it does with most wild animals, unfortunately this is far from the truth. Rats are very hardy and despite the fact that they don’t hibernate, and they don’t have the ability to fatten up for the winter they still thrive.

In order to survive the winter rats, need to find shelter that provides warmth and constant supply of food. Fortunately for the rats there is an abundance of man-made buildings that provide exactly this. During the winter rats are forced to flee their usual habitat and find a warm dry building to nest. Any building will do, warehouses, shops, barns, office building and houses. So, you may think that when winter comes your pest control concerns can be put on hold until next year, however, the truth is rat problems can get worse!

Where Do Rats Get Food During the Winter?

When autumn arrives rats much like squirrels, begin to prepare for food shortages. When rats find food, instead of eating what they find immediately they start to stockpile the food to eat later when food is scarce.

Rats are omnivores, so they will eat pretty much anything, they often feed on vegetation such as, grains, seeds and fruits, but when these are not available, they will turn to eating, insets, small animals, human waste and even their own faecal matter. A lot of rats take advantage of the vast amount of human waste and live exclusively on that, this is why they are such a huge pest control problem.

Where Do Rats Nest During the Winter?

When winter comes rats will find their way into a building and stockpile food, after this is done the rats will focus their attention on building a nest. This is made up of a variety of shredded materials such as, plant materials, loft insulation, cardboard, and any other soft materials they can find, this is then just roughly bunched together, nothing like the intricate weaving of a bird’s nest. It is the location of the nest that is more important to the rats, it needs to be warm and dark and most man-made buildings can provide this, hence why rats become such a huge problem in the winter.

How Do I Know If I Have A Rat Infestation?

Now the winter is drawing in it is important for business and homeowners to be on the lookout for signs of a rat infestation. Here are a few tell tale signs that you may have a rat infestation:

  • Smears – You may see greasy smear marks on skirting boards, walls, and floors where the rats body has come into contact with them.
  • Footprints – In dusty rooms you may see footprints or tail marks where the rats have been running around.
  • Droppings – Rice like dark brown droppings are a good indicator of a rat infestation.
  • Scratching Noises – Rats often build nests under the floorboards, in lofts and wall cavities, so you may be able to hear them scurrying around at night when they are most active.
  • Nesting Materials – Any shredded materials such as paper, cardboard, rubbish and plants.
  • Damage – rats gnaw constantly to keep their teeth ground down, this can cause substantial damage to a property. You may find gnaw marks on walls, pipes, furniture, almost anything that’s hard. They can also damage food packaging when hunting for food.

Over all rats are very hardy rodents, and by exploiting human resources are able to thrive during the winter. This creates a huge pest control problem during the winter months. So be on the look out for signs of a rat infestation, the sooner an infestation is found the easier it will be to bring under control which can save you money and if you are a business owner it can save your reputation.

If you have found any signs of a rat infestation in your home or business then contact Advance Pest Control Bristol today – 07771503107