How to spot a rat problem

While many people choose to keep domesticated rats as pets there are very few who would welcome uninvited guests of the wild variety in our home. Rats find their way into our homes looking for shelter or somewhere to have their babies, or they are simply searching for food. Unfortunately, in addition to being destructive (especially if they chew electrical wires), rats can bring a variety of diseases into the home, which can be very dangerous in extreme cases. Furthermore, if what begins as one or two rats expands to a family, you could be dealing with a full infestation before you know it.

Rats are rarely active during the day, but just because you don’t see one in the fur and flesh doesn’t mean they aren’t in your home. Here are some of the tell-tale signs to look out for which could mean you have a rat problem.


If you find droppings which are up to 12 mm in length and which taper off at the ends, they are likely to be rat droppings. Rats can produce up to 50 pellets in a single night and the bigger the droppings, the bigger the rats. Never touch rat droppings (old or fresh) with your bare hands as they may be carrying harmful bacteria or diseases such as Weil’s disease.

If you suspect that you have a rat problem, contact a professional pest control provider today.

Scratching, chattering and squeaking noises

Rats make a variety of noises depending on whether they are relaxed, frightened, or in pain. You may be able to hear chattering or grinding noises or occasionally squeaking and hissing. You may also hear the scratch of their claws as they scrabble around in the walls or under the floor.

Rat Nests and Holes

Rats are very good at digging and chewing through incredibly hard substances, including concrete and can create very complicated tunnels if left for too long. These holes, tunnels, and burrows open up your home to other unwanted guests. Rat holes will have a diameter of approximately 70-120 mm and could lead to nests inside your home in cupboards, cavity walls or in your garden.


If you have dusty surfaces, you may be able to find the pawprints or tracks of rats. They will have four toes on the front feet and five on the back. If you are not sure if the prints you find are recent, sprinkle some flour down in the suspected area and see if more prints appear the next day.

Rub Marks

Rats do not have very good eyesight, so when they are moving through your home, they are likely to bump into things and rub their fur along surfaces. This will disturb dust or dirt and may leave behind dark greasy smears due to their oily fur.

Teeth marks and gnawed surfaces

When rats are trying to forge a path through your home towards shelter or food, they will use their teeth as a way of exploring their surroundings. Like many other rodents, their teeth are growing constantly and chewing on hard surfaces is the only way to manage their length. Find out more about pests and food contamination.

Unpleasant smell

When rats are in your home, it’s likely that you will notice a strong and unpleasant aroma caused by their droppings and urine, not to mention the issues which can be caused when rats die and start to decompose under floorboards or between the walls.



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Editor in chief Suzi Dixon studied at Bournemouth university, went away for a while to work at The Daily Telegraph, then moved back to the sunny South coast for a quiet (er) life. Bournemouth News & Info is her website and she is assisted by the fabulous Fred From France in all things geeky and technical. Hire us to make your website, too, if you like.

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