Rats are one of the most annoying, damaging and widespread rodents in the United States. They consume and contaminate food, damage structures and property, and transmit parasites and diseases to other animals and humans. Rats live and thrive in a variety of conditions and can be found in and around homes and other buildings, farms, gardens, and open fields. They may sometimes be attracted to a home or location for food. In some cases they may be living nearby in a building or vegetation and venture into an area where they become a problem.
People do not often see rats, but signs of their presence are easy to detect. South Carolina generally has two species that cause the most problems: the Roof rat and the Norway rat. It is important to know which species of rat is present in order to focus control efforts in the most effective locations.
Rats, like house mice, are mostly active at night. They have poor eyesight, but have keen senses of hearing, smell, taste, and touch. Rats explore and learn, memorizing the locations of pathways, food and water, shelter, and other elements in their domain. They will detect and sometimes avoid new objects placed into a familiar environment. Thus, objects such as traps and baits often are avoided for several days or more following their initial placement.
While both species exhibit this avoidance of new objects, it is usually more pronounced in Roof rats than in Norway rats. Both Norway and Roof rats may gain entry to structures by gnawing, climbing, jumping, or swimming through sewers and entering through the toilet or broken drains. Both species of rats cause problems by gnawing on electrical wires and wooden structures (doors, ledges, in corners, and in wall material) and tearing up insulation in walls and ceilings for nesting. While Norway rats are more powerful swimmers, Roof rats are more agile and are better climbers. Norway rats may undermine building foundations and slabs with their burrowing activities.
Rats of either species, especially young rats, can squeeze beneath a door with only a 1/2-inch gap. If the door is made of wood, the rat may gnaw to enlarge the gap if necessary. Rats may transmit murine typhus, leptospirosis, trichinosis, salmonellosis (food poisoning), and rat bite fever to both pets and humans. Plague is a disease that can be carried by both Roof and Norway rats. If you have rats, our rat control and rat removal experts can help.
After an initial inspection is conducted of the problem area and surrounding areas to determine the occurrence of rats and the species present, a series of steps will be taken to safely, effectively, and discretely remediate the problem.
- Trapping and Removal – Traps will be set to capture and allow removal of the animals.
- Sanitary Cleanup – Fecal matter, urine, damaged goods and all debris associated with the rats will be removed for disposal and the area will be treated with a sterilizing agent and, in some cases, a pesticide if the presence of ectoparasites is identified. Our certified wildlife biologists understand the life cycles of the bacteria and ectoparasites associated with the species and will properly handle all rat control and rat removal situations to protect your home, family, and pets.
- Exclusion/Repair – All openings or critical areas on the structure where rodents may access are inspected and modified or repaired to prevent future entry. Any damaged wiring and or structural damage to foundations and or insulation can be repaired by Forest and Wildlife’s licensed building contractors (SCDLLR).
- Habitat Modification – Any areas that are identified to be sources of rodent populations will be evaluated and proper control and prevention methods will be suggested to prevent new infestations. This may be handled with bait toxin boxes. Our commercially licensed pesticide applicators (SC Pesticide Regulatory Commission) can safely and effectively implement a long term rodent control program. Any areas of vegetation that may harbor rodents may be removed after the rodents are captured. In some situations, overhanging tree limbs will be cosmetically removed by our in-house tree service (Tree MD) to prevent possible access to the roof line. Often dilapidated or uninhabited structures may be the source of the problem. In this case a review by city officials or neighbors may result in a trapping and removal effort and demolition of the structure by our demolition division.
Forest and Wildlife Group are biologists and experts in animal and nuisance wildlife removal, control, and exlusion. Click on any of the links below for more information about each specific animal.