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Rats In DC, MD & VA

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Rat Control Services In DC, MD & VA

Miche Pest Control is a top rated, family owned and operated pest control company that provides exterminating services that get rid of rats and other pests from inside and around homes and businesses in Washington DC, Maryland & Northern Virginia. Our expert technicians get rid of rats fast, and use preventative methods to keep rats and other rodents from coming back after they've been eliminated. Miche Pest Control has a 4.9 star rating and over 1,000 reviews online - click the button below to get started, or give us a call today!

What are rats?

Rats are large rodents that live throughout the United States. Their size and prolific breeding habits make them formidable pests to contend with. Like all pests, rats are not welcome in our homes and businesses because they spread diseases, cause structural damage, and contaminate food. The two most common species of rats living in the greater DC, Maryland & Northern Virginia area are Norway rats and roof rats.

Norway Rats

The Norway Rat is the most important rat pest throughout most of the world. It is also called the brown rat, sewer rat, barn rat, wharf rat, water rat, and gray rat. A highly developed species of rat, the Norway rat is larger and more aggressive than the roof rat. Norway rats are relatively large, with dense, heavy bodies covered in unkempt brown or gray fur, which may be peppered with black hairs. An average adult Norway rat measures about 16 inches in length from its nose to the end of its tail, and will weigh about 12 ounces, though Norway rats as large as 22 ounces have been recorded in Washington DC. Their tails are shorter in length than their bodies. Generally a ground burrowing rat, Norway rats will usually enter buildings at ground level, but they are capable of climbing vines and trees as well.

Roof Rats

Roof rats, which may be called black rats, ship rats, or house rats, have thin, light bodies that enable them to be very agile. Unlike Norway rats, roof rats are good climbers, with extra food pads on the bottom of their feet and extra long tails that help them balance and climb. They prefer aerial harborages, and will live in trees, shrubs, and dense vines. While roof rats may be entirely black in color, that is not always the case. Their fur can be various shades of brown or black, with gray, cream, or white bellies. Adult roof rats are medium-sized, weighing about 8 to 12 ounces, and measuring about 16 inches in length from their nose to the tip of their tail. The tail of the roof rat is longer than its body, and it has large ears and a nose that is more pointed in shape than the blunt nose of the Norway rat. Roof rats, when found in a residential setting, are most often found inhabiting ceiling spaces or attics.

How Quickly Do Rats Reproduce?

In general, Norway rats and roof rats will typically have litters with 6 to 12 young, but as many as 22 baby rats "pups" have been documented in one litter. Their gestation period is approximately 21 to 25 days, and if a female rat lives for a year (in the wild, most rats will live about 5 to 6 months), she will typically produce 3 to 6 litters, though up to 12 litters are possible in good conditions. Young rats become mature at about three months old. The number of litters per year and the number of baby rats per litter depend on the food supply, harborage, age & condition of the female, competition, temperature, climate, and more. If conditions are right, rats can breed once per month, but if rats are stressed due to poor environmental conditions, they will grow more slowly and can potentially not give birth to any pups. In general, peak reproduction for rats occurs in the spring and in the fall, but in ideal conditions, breeding may occur year round.

How Long Do Rats Live?

On average, rats in the wild will live for approximately 5 or 6 months. Only about 5% of rats in the wild will live to be 12 months old, though female rats do tend to live longer than male rats. When kept as pets or in laboratories, rats have been known to live as long as 3 years, but this is because they are provided with regular, nutritious meals, comfortable nests, and they have relatively low stress with no competition or predators.

Are rats dangerous?

Rats are dangerous and should never be allowed to live around people.

Outside, rats forage for food in less than sanitary areas like garbage piles, riverbanks, sewers, dumpsters, and compost piles. On their bodies and in their excrement and saliva, they carry many bacteria and diseases that they spread, including salmonella, E. coli, and rat-bite fever.

Like other rodents, rats also have front incisors that grow throughout their life. Their front teeth are sharp and used to gather nesting materials, create entrances into buildings, and defend themselves. Their teeth also cause a lot of damage when rats are in our homes; they use their teeth for chewing through wires, cables, pipes, drywall, ceilings, and furniture. 

Rats also have poor vision. To safely find their way around, rats rub against walls and furniture as they walk, leaving behind unsightly grease and dirt marks (sebum).

Are Rats Nocturnal?

Generally, rats have two peak activity periods; one within the hour following sunset, and another just before dawn. That isn't always the case, though: rats will alter or even reverse their activity periods from night to day, depending on human activity, competition, and the availability of food or water.

If you see a rat or two during the day, that doesn't necessarily mean that there is a severe infestation, especially if the rats you see are young. However, if you see rats both during the day and at night, and the daytime sightings are frequent and without obvious explanations such as the rats taking advantage of available food, then a severe or quickly reproducing rat infestation is likely.

Why do I have a rat problem?

Unfortunately, rats can become a problem wherever we live. They are especially a problem in urban areas where endless buildings and people provide them with places to shelter and ample food, which they gather from trash cans, fruit trees, pet food, and outdoor eating areas.

Where will I find rats?

Being nocturnal, it can take some time to discover a rat's presence on your property because they are most active while you sleep. If you are suddenly seeing rats out and about during the day, a large infestation is most likely present. 

Norway rats mainly nest at ground level around fields, farmlands, riverbanks, gardens, and under concrete slabs and woodpiles. During the cooler months when food is less plentiful outside, Norway rats move indoors to consume our food and hide in our basements, crawl spaces, and wall voids. 

Roof rats prefer to hide and nest up off the ground. Outside, they make fruit trees, vines, dense shrubbery, roof eaves, and woodpiles into nesting spots. Inside our homes and garages, they live in roof rafters, attics, and above ceilings.

How do I get rid of rats?

If you have rats living on your property, professional help is the best way to eliminate them. At Miche Pest Control, our experienced and licensed experts understand the biology and behavior of rats. Using effective products and modern pest control methods, we control rats and other common household pests. To learn more about eliminating rats from your Virginia, Maryland, or Washington D.C. property, reach out to Miche Pest Control today!

How can I prevent rats in the future?

Preventing problems with rats is difficult, but we want to help you guard your property against these rodents by offering these helpful prevention tips:

  • Cut back tree branches from your roofline to prevent roof rats from being able to gain easy access to the roof.
  • Place metal sheeting (rat guards) at the bottom of trees to make it more difficult for roof rats to climb them.
  • Cut back shrubbery, tall grass, and other landscaping from near your foundation to prevent Norway rats from nesting near your home.
  • Remove things like woodpiles, brush piles, construction debris, and other yard clutter from your property.
  • Eliminate a rat's access to food on your property by regularly harvesting fruits and vegetables from gardens and trees, keeping locking lids on trash cans, and picking up your pet's uneaten food.
  • Seal any holes or openings in your home's exterior, both at ground level and roof level, using steel wool, metal flashing, or another strong material that will hold up against a rat's sharp, strong teeth.

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