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Rats in Michigan: Types, Facts & Tips for Homeowners

norway rat sitting on a wooden pallet

If you’re in Michigan and you’ve spotted a rant, we genuinely hope it was outside of your house and not inside. However, it wouldn’t come as a surprise if you saw one scurrying across your kitchen floor, either. While the frigid winters of Michigan might keep some pests away from your home, rats are always looking for a place to nest that has a steady food supply, and Michigan is no exception.

Unfortunately, rats can be hard to identify. People often mistake mice for rats and vice versa. Let’s take a look at some of the types of rats found in Michigan along with some tips for getting rid of them.

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The 2 Types of Rat in Michigan

1. Brown Rat

brown rat eating sunflower seeds
Image By: Gerhard, Pixabay
Scientific Name: Rattus norvegicus
Occurrence: Very Common

The Brown Rat is the most common rat in Michigan. Also known as the Gray Rat or Norway Rat, this species originates from Mongolia and China. However, you can now find them living anywhere humans are found, including urban environments, sewer tunnels, trash bins, and subway systems.

Because they can transmit infections through their blood, it’s best to steer clear of them until you can trap and release them elsewhere.

2. Black Rat

Black rat (Rattus rattus) lurking on top of a wooden fence
Image Credit: Ernie Cooper, Shutterstock
Scientific Name: Rattus rattus
Occurrence: Common

The Black Rat is another common rat species found in North America. It was once native to India but came here on cargo ships. Today, they are so widespread that they are no longer considered foreign.

Because Black Rats feed on a wide variety of crops, you can find them anywhere there is a big agricultural market. Be careful because they can spread toxoplasmosis, bubonic plague, and typhus.

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What’s the Difference Between Rats and Mice?

While there are definitely rats in Michigan, you probably aren’t going to see them as often as you would in other states. In fact, Michiganders often confuse mice with rats. So, what’s the difference between these animals?

Rats and mice are both rodents. While they do look similar, the biggest difference is their size. Rats are almost always heavier and larger than a mouse. Mice are smaller with slender tails and have shorter, thicker hair.

If you think you’ve spotted a rat in the house, be sure that it’s actually a rat and not a common house mouse. Either way, though, you’ll want to contact pest control and get the problem taken care of.

rats on the window
Image Credit: Simon, Pixabay

How to Deter Rodents

Regardless of if you’ve spotted a rat or a mouse in the house, you still want to do everything in your power to get rid of them and keep them out. Rodents can cause damage to your property and even get you and your loved ones sick.

  • Seal Up Any Holes: Since rats can squeeze through small holes, be sure to walk the perimeter of the entire house, both indoors and out, and fill in any gaps or holes with caulk to prevent unwanted pests from entering.
  • Use Traps: While there are a variety of rat traps on the market, we suggest only using humane ones that allow you to trap the rat and release it elsewhere so it can’t find its way back.
  • Keep Things Clean: If you have any clutter or litter around your place, be sure to clean it up so that rats don’t use it for nesting or hunker down in it. This can also include dead trees and stumps, bushes, and wood piles.

Cleaning Up After a Rat Infestation

Our best advice to you, if you notice that rats are hanging around, is to have them professionally removed by a professional. Usually, where there is one rat, there are dozens more close behind.

If you’ve been dealing with this issue and have recently had the rats evicted, it’s time to clean your house thoroughly to avoid getting sick. Because rats communicate with one another through their urine and droppings, exposure could make you sick. Here are some tips for disinfecting your home after discovering a rat lives there:

  • Wear protective clothing, including rubber gloves and a mask.
  • Spray all areas where there was urine, dropping, or signs of rats with a solution of hot, bleachy water.
  • Only wipe the surfaces of your home clean with paper towels before putting them in a plastic waste bag, tightly sealing it, and throwing all waste in an outdoor trash can.
  • Remove your gloves and thoroughly wash your hands with soapy water.

Consult a PEST-CONTROL expert

Find a pest-control specialist in your area, and get free, no-commitment estimates for your project.

Gray Woodrat
Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock

The Most Important Rat Prevention Tip

When you’re a homeowner, and even for some renters, the most important thing to remember about rats is that they are looking for two things necessary for their survival: food and shelter. That said, don’t make yourself an easy target.

Rats have an excellent sense of smell. If your home is easy to break into and you’ve got a stash of food and water that they have easy access to, you’re only hurting yourself. Again, walk around the house and ensure that you are doing everything in your power to make your home as unappealing to them as possible.

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While nobody really likes seeing rats in their home—unless, of course, you keep them as pets—many of us don’t know what to do when they actually are present. With this article, we hope that you not only learn how to identify the two most common rats in Michigan but that you’ve also pick up some tips for getting rid of them and how to properly disinfect the house to keep your loved ones from getting sick.

Featured Image Credit: Holger Kirk, Shutterstock


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