This guide reveals why you see a rat in your house.
You’ll find out the sneaky ways that rats get inside your home, their hiding places, and proven hacks to get rid of them.
You’ll also learn what causes rats in your house and proven hacks to rat-proof your home forever.
Why Do You See A Rat In Your House? The Four Causes
Do you know that rat activity inside your home doesn’t have a season?
Your home can be a refuge for rats all year long.
Because rats are mammals and warm-blooded like humans, they need the right temperature surroundings to survive.
Here are the top four reasons why you see a rat in your house –
- Food and water
- Places to nest
- Rats in your neighborhood
Let’s dive into each of them.
Rats are warm-blooded mammals like us humans are.
They cannot regulate their body temperature to deal with the outside temperature.
So, they need to escape extreme heat, cold, and even rains to stay alive.
When the weather outdoors becomes too unbearable for rats, they’ll sneak inside human dwellings to escape it.
In winters, rats will look for warm places to hide. And in the summer months, rats will look for temperate or milder hiding areas.
Once inside your home, rats will look for places to hide.
And the ideal places for them to hide are lofty places or places that don’t get much of human footfalls.
Hence places like the attic, basement, storage room, roof eaves, the areas underneath sinks, and even the top of kitchen cabinets can be rats’ hiding places.
However, rats love coziness too.
So, they can, and at times, they will also hide in places where there’s fabric or many old books, newspapers, and cardboard boxes.
That’s why rats can also hide inside closets and wardrobes.
And there are innumerable instances where homeowners found rats inside the storage section of their beds and couches.
So, if you see a rat in your house, be sure that the rat has found a place for itself to hide.
Later in the post, you’ll find out how to find out where’s the rat is hiding or its nest.
Let’s get into the second reason that causes rats to get inside a house.
Food And Water
When the weather outdoors becomes adverse for rats, then along with shelter, rats also look for a stable food source.
And inside your home, it’s your kitchen and garbage cans.
Rats target the grains stored in your food pantry and kitchen cabinets.
Rats will chew through the plastic and paper food containers to eat the stored food grains and cereals.
And they’ll also feed on the food waste that you dump in your kitchen trash bins.
Rats will also eat the food stains on the kitchen counter, dirty dishes in the kitchen sink, and food droppings.
Rats are hunters too.
Rats will hunt small insects and little mice hiding in your home.
Places To Nest
Unless you get rid of them, many rats will build their nests inside your home.
Places that don’t receive high foot traffic, natural light, and lofty are rats’ favorite places to build nests.
Places like the attic, basement, cluttered storage rooms, crawlspaces, wall cavities, and boxed-in plumbing areas are where rats prefer to build their nests.
Their nests look like a pile of shredded fabric, paper, and cardboard. These materials are comfortable for the rat’s babies.
However, rats are notorious for building their nests inside cluttered wardrobes, dresser drawers, and even inside the storage section underneath beds.
Not to mention, rats can easily chew through the couches and get inside them to build their nests and rear their young.
If you often see a rat in your house, then there are chances that the rate has settled in your home and has an active nest.
Rats In Your Neighborhood
You won’t have been seeing a rat in your house if there are no rats in your neighborhood.
There are times when rats hop from one home to another because their population in one home increases.
That makes them look for a new place to hide and new food sources.
Also, if your entire neighborhood has a rat problem then there can be rats in many homes.
Rats can come up from the sewer lines, and toilet drains to take refuge in a home.
That’s why rats in the house are always a threat to your health because they carry those pathogens in them, which can cause serious diseases.
When a dirty rat enters your home through different channels, it leaves rat smear marks on the holes through which it enters.
The smear marks or rat grease marks are also visible in places where they rub themselves.
These smear marks are the damp dirt, gunk, and slime on their bodies that get stuck when they’re in a filthy environment.
How do Rats Get Inside A House?
There are many ways rats can get inside your house. But most commonly, rats use these seven loopholes in your home to get in –
- Cracks and holes on the walls and foundation of the home
- Holes on the roof and eaves
- Open chimneys
- Ventilation ducts and vents in the attic, basement, and garage
- Open doors and windows
- Drains and sewer pipes
- Passageways for utility lines and wires
Rats might look round, but they can squeeze through the gaps and holes as tiny as 20 mm.
Rats can squeeze through under doors. They can jump 48 inches horizontally and 36 inches vertically.
Rats are efficient climbers. Rats can climb on rough walls and pipes and reach the high vents to enter your home.
Not to mention, roof rats are notorious for climbing trees and using trees as a bridge to sneak inside your home through the roofs.
Rats are good swimmers too. They can swim through the filthy waters of sewers and drains to enter your home.
If you see a rat in your house, then there are chances that you might have overlooked the signs of rats that should have alerted you of its presence in your home.
The signs of rats that you’re about to find out are telltale signs of a rat presence in your home.
So, if you notice these signs and not a rat, then these signs should alert you that there’s a rat or multiple rats in your home.
9 Signs That Tell You’ve got A Rat In Your House
- Rat droppings
- Rat smear marks or rub marks
- Scratching sounds
- Rat holes
- Rat nests
- Rat footprints
- Rat urine odor
- Rat chew marks
- Pet acting curious
Let’s get into each of these signs and figure out where you see them and why.
Rat droppings are shiny black. These droppings resemble coffee beans or dark raisins.
The fresher the rat poop is, the darker and shinier they are.
When the rat poop gets stale, it becomes gray and accumulates dust on the surface.
Rats defecate in tight spaces and corners of your home.
So, you’ll find the poop along the baseboards behind a piece of furniture sticking close to the wall.
They’ll also leave their feces in cluttered places like the attic, basement, and garage.
You’ll hear scratching sounds from the walls, attic, roof, ceiling, and from places like your kitchen.
This is a clear indication that the rat is climbing or chewing on certain things in these areas.
You can also hear the rats squeaking and running from one area of your home to another.
But you don’t hear these scratching and squeaking sounds during the day.
It’s because the rats are nocturnal and during the day they remain hidden.
Most of the time these sounds are audible when you’ve turned off the lights at night and you’re off to bed.
Rat Grease Marks
Rats scratch and rub themselves on hard surfaces.
And while doing it, they deposit the damp filth on their bodies in the form of smear marks on the surface.
These smear marks, also known as rub marks or rat grease marks, look like black dabs of filth on hard surfaces where the rats scratch themselves.
Generally, the rat smear marks are toxic. And to remove them, you’d need a disinfectant.
Rats will dig burrows and holes underneath walls to get inside the homes.
These cavities can be hiding places of rats during the day.
You’ll find these holes near the home’s foundation in the outdoors. At times, you can also find them at the bases of beams and joists.
There’s nothing more on-your-face sign of rats in a house than the rat nests.
Rat nests are a heap of shredded clothes, paper, and cardboard in places like the attic, lofts, and under eaves.
Rats can also dig into the walls to build their nests. Wall cavities are the go-to places for rats to build their nests.
The worse part? Rats can also shred the loft insulation materials to make their nests.
One rat will make only one nest. A single rat doesn’t make multiple nests in different parts of your home.
So, if you find more than one nest, you can tell there is more than one rat in your house.
Rat footprints on the dusty areas of your home are a sign of rats in your home. These rat footprints can lead to the rat’s nest or hiding place.
Pest controllers scatter flour on the possible routes of the rat to get the footprints. That establishes that there are rats in the home.
Rat Urine Odor
Rats also urinate randomly at places while they’re searching for food.
The urine odor is a strong smell. If the urine is fresh, then the scent is also acidic.
If there are rats in your home, you’ll get the smell in places like the attic, doorways, walls, crawl space, and vents.
Rats hide in cars too. They’ll urinate in the car’s carpet, seats, trunk, and even underneath the steering wheel.
Rat Chew Marks
Rats not only chew on food storage jars to reach the food but also on random things to keep their teeth sharp.
That’s one of the reasons why they shred fabric, paper, soft toys, and other soft objects.
Rat gnaw marks on furniture, carpets, couches, rugs, and even plastic objects are glaringly noticeable if there’s a rat infestation in your house.
Rats in the house invade the kitchen often.
So, you can notice the chew marks on the kitchen furniture and the grain storage containers.
Pet Acting Curious
Your pet dog or cat can quickly figure out a rat’s presence in your home.
If there’s a rat in your house, your pet will act like it’s chasing or something.
Your pet will try to sneak underneath furniture and couch. It can even sit completely alert near a tight corner which makes you wonder what it is doing.
Well, your pet spotted an intruder.
Cats are great rat hunters. If you’ve got a pet cat, your cat can hunt and eat the rat.
But that can be dangerous for your pet cat because rats carry pathogens.
If There’s One Rat Can There Be More
Yes, if you see a rat in your house, there can be more than one rat.
However, you’ll need to find out the signs of a rat to say it in affirmative.
And the best way to do it is to search their hiding places and figure out how many rat nests you found.
One rat doesn’t make multiple nests. So, if you find more than one nest, then there can be numerous rats in your house.
How To Get Rid Of Rats In Your House?
Getting rid of rats inside a home can be a tricky affair. So, we recommend hiring a pest controller to do the job.
But if you see a rat in your house, then there are some things that you can do right now to make it leave your home.
The following steps will help you a lot in evicting the rat hiding in your home –
- Remove the clutter in your home and where the rats hide
- Seal any gaps and cracks on the walls
- Lay a rat snap trap
- Use rat deterrents
Let’s dig into each of these steps.
Remove The Clutter
Rats love clutter. That’s where they love to hide.
So, start with removing the clutter in the places where rats hide.
Your attic, basement, storage room, laundry room, and garage are those places.
Get rid of any unwanted things in your bedroom and kitchen.
Also, de-clutter the storage places in your bedroom and kitchen. That will ensure that rats don’t hide in these places.
Also, get rid of old books, newspapers, cardboard boxes, and magazines.
These are the things rats shred to build their nests.
Seal And Close Any Gaps And Cracks
The gaps, cracks, and holes on the wall, roof, and attic are the points of entry for rats.
If there’s any, seal them.
But there are some vents that you can’t seal—for example, the vents in the attic or the vents that allow utility wires to pass through.
To deal with those vents, install a screen with firm mesh. These screens are porous, and the mesh is sturdy.
Rats can’t chew them.
Repair damaged walls and floors in the damp places of your home like the kitchen, bathroom, basement, and laundry room.
High dampness damage the walls in these areas fast. That makes it easy for the rats to dig into the walls and hide.
Also, seal the gaps underneath doors and on the window frames. You can do it by using weather stripping.
Rats can crawl through these thin gaps underneath doors and window frames and hide in your home.
Cover the chimneys too. The chimney is an easy entry point for rats and bugs to get inside and hide in your home.
Lay Rat Snap Traps
The good old-fashioned snap traps are still effective in trapping the rats.
Keep a snap trap where rats can hide.
But it’ll be best if you keep one or two snap traps in your kitchen and kitchen pantry.
If you see a rat in your house, then without a doubt, the rat will enter your kitchen looking for food.
Also, you can place snap traps where you’ve found rat smear marks and rat urine odor.
Use Natural Rat Deterrents
Many natural deterrents keep rats away. Peppermint spray is one of them.
Use peppermint spray in your home and in the places where rats hide.
Ensure that you spray the peppermint spray underneath furniture like couches and beds.
These are where rats can remain hidden and wait till you turn off the lights and go to sleep.
Rats hate the strong smell of peppermint.
Using a spray made of white vinegar and water also works. The acidic smell of white vinegar also makes rats quit a dwelling.
Some spices repel rats. Black pepper, cayenne pepper, cloves, cinnamon, and bay leaves are a few.
You can sprinkle the powders of these spices in your kitchen and bedroom to prevent the rats from entering these places.
This guide revealed why you see a rat in your house and what you can do to get that rat out of your home.
There are strange signs that rats leave behind in your home, indicating that there’s more than one rat in your home.
Rats can cause severe damage to your home and property. Rats carry pathogens that they bring inside your home.
Exposure to those pathogens can be harmful to your health.
So, it’s always wise to hire a professional to get rid of rats in the house.
Nang Chen is an Entomologist and Arachnologist who is associated with Vienna’s museum of natural history. He’s also a consultant with real estate groups, insecticide conglomerates and law enforcement groups as a forensic entomologist. Nang Chen holds an M.S. from South China University and he’s a regular contributor to our site.