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How To Tell How Many Rats Are In Your House (4 Key Steps)


It’s very distressing to discover that you might have a rodent problem in your home. Rats and mice are very destructive creatures that can fit into the smallest crevices around houses, so you may not even know you have them until you identify one of their many telltale identifiers.

Let’s take a look at how to positively identify you have rats or mice in your house, and what kind of control methods are available to combat them.

divider 5 Before You Start

We would recommend not choosing a course of action until after you’ve identified that you have rats or mice, and how large the infestation is. Different treatment options may be better for different situations, so we’ll leave that for later.

Secondly, there are many obvious but small signs that you have rats or mice in your home. We’ll go over them in more detail in a bit, but here are some of them.

Image Credit: Pixabay

Signs of Rats Include:

  • Small droppings, possibly of varying sizes
  • Musky urine odor
  • Gnawed holes in food packaging or containers
  • Nests comprised of soft shredded material
  • Gnawed wires, pipes, boxes, insulation, wood, cardboard, etc.
  • Scurrying or scampering sounds, typically late at night or when you’re sleeping/away
  • Seeing rats at any time
  • House pets act strangely or paw at low-lying areas where they’ve sensed rats

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How To Tell How Many Rats Are In Your House: A Step-By-Step Guide

1. Identify Droppings

Image Credit: Pixabay

Droppings are one of the most surefire ways to confirm that rats are in your house. If the droppings are all very small, you may actually have a mouse problem. Adult rat droppings can be as large as ½-inch or bigger.

If there is a mix of large and small droppings, that means there’s a rat population of varying ages. You should be very concerned if you visually confirm a large amount of very small droppings, as that signifies the rats are breeding.

As you might expect, larger numbers of droppings indicate larger numbers of rats in your house.

2. Identify Rat Nests & Runways

Rats are tricky little pests that hide in the most unlikely places. Rats will nest in any dark, safe, and undisturbed space. Many times, this means in a loft, attic, basement, or even in your interior walls. Rats will shred up paper, leaves, and other fibrous materials that can make an acceptable nest.

Rats often travel along invisible pathways called runways, which are usually the interior walls, foundation, electrical conduits, and other very small and hard-to-access places. You can confirm the presence of rats near certain areas by observing bite and scratch marks, as well as oily smears on walls where they rub past.

3. How Often Are Rats Seen and When?

Image Credit: Pixabay

If you haven’t actually seen any rats, that means you have a relatively mild infestation that can probably be controlled with traps and bait. Rats prefer to avoid people at night, so small populations can get away with hiding from you.

Conversely, if you regularly see rats during the night and/or day, that indicates a very large infestation that will call for pest control professionals. If the rats are so numerous that they can’t hide from you, that is a very serious problem you need to have taken care of.

4. Choose The Most Suitable Course of Action

Based on the information you’ve gathered, you now know how severe your rat infestation is. For relatively small and mild cases, you can typically get away with placing traps or bait products to control the rats, but you must observe. If you continue to see evidence of rats after a week or two of using traps, place them in more or different areas.

For very large infestations, traps or bait products won’t be able to effectively combat the sheer number of rats present. Unfortunately, that means you’ll need to look into hiring pest control professionals.

Professionals will be able to diagnose where the rats are and how to most efficiently get rid of them. In most cases, you can get a free estimate of how much it would cost.

Featured Image Credit: Pixabay


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