Mention this three letter word to some people and it’s enough to send shivers down their spines. My 92 year old friend once told me when she was a young girl living in Brisbane, she spent a whole day standing on the kitchen table after seeing one of these “little beady eyes”, as she liked to call them.

So how do you know if you have rats in your home? You might hear noises coming from under the floor or in the ceiling. These noises are made when they chew and gnaw on materials in your roof such as ceiling timbers and wiring. Rats can be very destructive and can even cause house fires. Apart from the damage they cause they can also spread some nasty diseases such as Bubonic plague, Typhus Fever & Salmonella as well as viruses and parasites such as worms. Now the purpose of writing these things is not to scare the living daylights out of you, but to make you aware of the dangers of having these things in your home. This is definitely one house guest you can do without!

Anyway here’s a few interesting facts I discovered about Rats.

A female rat can give birth to 4-6 litters per year; each of these can contain 5-10 young. (Talk about breed like rabbits!)

A pair of rodents in one year can produce a population of 400 – 700.

Rats consume 10% of their body weight each day – that’s about 30gms.

And now for something really gross – an infestation of 5 rats can produce around 73,000 droppings and 27 litres of urine per year. Yuk!

So how do you get rid of these pests if you have them? First of all you can trap them in a rat trap, but from my personal experience this can be quite tricky as they are very wary creatures. The other alternative is to use rodent bait. Allow a bit of time for this to be effective as they can take some time to get used to the bait (as they fear new things) and then it can take 6-10 days for the bait to take effect. After eating the bait they will get thirsty and hopefully head outside for water, but this is not always the case. A few years ago just before my mum’s annual visit, I noticed a terrible smell coming from my bath. My husband told me not to worry it was only my mum & the smell would eventually go. After some words backwards & forwards, which from memory went something like this – if you don’t pull the sheeting off the bath I will- he reluctantly pulled the bath surround off only to discover a dead rat and its nest.

What can you do to help minimise rat infestations? You need to make sure that any food source is removed such as food scraps, fallen fruit from trees and pet food, including bird seed, as rats are hoarders of food. If you have any loose food in your pantry then maybe it’s a good idea to put it in containers. It also helps to remove stored items and foliage from around the home as this can give them somewhere to nest. If you have any overhanging foliage then try and cut it back so it limits the chance of them getting into your roof void. It’s also a good idea to seal up any holes or cracks. These are just some simple things we can do to help make our homes less of an attraction to rats.

If you have tried all of the above things without success then maybe it’s not a rat after all, but a cute Australian marsupial called an Antechinus. How do you know the difference, this will be the subject of our next blog article. Until then, happy hunting.