San Antonio's Rat Identification Handbook

It’s winter in San Antonio, and you’re getting ready for bed. As you drift off to sleep, you hear scratching and squeaking sounds above you. Even your cat notices... You’re up late. You go into the kitchen. You spot something running across the floor... The next day you investigate, and your findings aren’t good. Something of the rodent variety has taken up residence. There are droppings 1/2 – 3/4 of an inch long, way too big for a mouse. Gnaw marks are another telltale sign to distinguish your San Antonio home invader. Mice provide “scratchier” marks. These offending marks you’ve seen are 1/8 of an inch long.

San Antonio S Rat Identification Handbook

Oh, rats. It’s rats.

What Are Their Stats?

There are two types of rats that typically invade San Antonio homes, roof rats and Norway rats. Roof rats (also called black rats) are 16 inches long. They have a 6-8-inch body plus a hairless 6-8-inch tail and are between 5 and 7 ounces in weight. They have pointed noses, large eyes and ears, and thin, slender bodies. Their soft, smooth fur is typically brown with intermixed areas of black with white, gray, or black undersides. Look for droppings that are dark with pointed ends. Roof rats are extremely agile and very good climbers. As omnivores, they’ll feed on many types of vegetation such as fruits, grains, seeds, and grocery produce. They’ll also snack on insects.
The larger brown or Norway rat is also known as the sewer rat. At 7-18 ounces in weight, they’re bulky rodents that grow to lengths of around 13-16 inches when measured from their noses to the tips of their shorter tails. They’re reddish or greyish brown to black in color with a gray underside. The ears and tail of the Norway rat are hairless. Look for droppings that are typically brown and blunt on both ends.
Brown rats are also omnivores and will eat just about anything found near where you discard food. They’re slightly more carnivorous in nature than roof rats, choosing to dine on small livestock like chickens, fish, birds, small reptiles, and amphibians. They will eat vegetation but prefer meat or meat-based waste. Norway rats can climb, but not nearly as well as roof rats. They make up for this with their ability as strong swimmers.

The “tell tail” signs

  • Droppings aside, rats leave distinct calling cards to look for.
  • Baseboards, doors, door frames, inside cabinets, and anything that serves as a wood barrier for chewing marks and/or holes
  • Grease smears along bottoms of walls and baseboards
  • A musky odor even if you open doors and windows

Taking up residence

When it comes to taking up residence in your home, rats leave no stone unturned. They can fit into holes the size of a quarter. They can also gain entry through eaves gaps, crawl space vents, pipe entry holes, fascia boards, roof joints, under loose siding or ridge gaps, crawl space vents at ground level, and AC chases.
Once they’ve made landfall, rats cause damage and plenty of it. In their quest for nesting materials, they chew wood, cloth, paper, insulation, the protective loom on your home’s electrical wires, pipes, and ductwork. When you’re sealing up your home, do a careful inspection of the outside of your structure. Use a high-quality caulk around steel wool to keep it in place. Use lath screen or lath metal, cement, hardware cloth, or metal sheeting to repair large holes, and add screens over vents.

The keepers of disease

If provoked and cornered, some rats will fight their way out of the confrontation as is the case of many wild animals. Any bites, scratches, or contact with their urine and droppings can transmit disease. You can also get sick when rats contaminate your food or run across countertops where food is later prepared. Some of the most common diseases rats can transmit include:

  • Lymphocytic choriomeningitis (LCMV)
  • Bubonic Plague
  • Murine Typhus
  • Hantavirus
  • Salmonella
  • Rat-bite fever
  • Leptospirosis
  • Tularemia  
  • Tapeworms                                  

An infestation of rats is nothing to play with. To evict these unwelcome guests and carriers of disease, protect your family by letting ours protect yours. Contact the professionals at Family Pest Control to schedule a free estimate.

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