White rat inside cardboard. Interstate Pest Management serving Portland OR & Vancouver WA talks about rats.

Some of the movie masterpieces of the 1970’s that were eventually forgotten after Star Wars became the only recognized movie from that decade, starred rats—that’s right, rats. Two memorable films were Willard and Ben. Each of these films featured thousands of rats attacking and tormenting people. Ben featured Michael Jackson singing a love song to a rat, the main character of the film.

After seeing those films, the thought of a rat racing around in my attic or in any of the crawlspaces of my house would make me want to burn my house down. So when I see websites suggesting do-it-yourself methods for eliminating rats from your house, all I can think is, “Are you kidding me?” These are rats! 650 years ago, they killed half of Europe by spreading the Black Death. I refuse to try my hand at rat killing. If I have rats, I am calling in the professionals, or a nuclear strike.

I have learned all the ways to determine if I have rats, however. I think that is just smart.

Signs that you may have rats

  • Rat droppings:

Rats are like horses; wait a minute, they are nothing like horses. However, similar to horses and even people, rats usually select one area of your house to be the bathroom. If you happen upon a spot in your basement that has a pile of brown Mike & Ike sized pellets, you know you have rats.

  • Rat sounds:

Rats are loud chewers or gnawers. Through your wall or ceiling, it may sound like a scratching sound. I have no idea what mating rats sound like but if you hear rat screams then you know the rats have made your house theirs.

  • Rat holes:

When I was a kid and did something foolish, my mom would say I didn’t have sense to pound sand down a rat hole. To this day, I still wouldn’t pound sand down a rat hole. I would call an exterminator or put three sticks of dynamite down the hole.

  • Your house burns down:

That’s not a sure sign, but if your house does burn down, the fire department may investigate and find some electrical wires that have been gnawed on and maybe a well-done rat nearby.

Pulling the welcome mat to rats

After rats killed 75 million people in Europe, the people declared a war on rats. Yeah, it’s still going. In any good war, you have to reinforce your borders. Here are some good ways to keep rats away from your home short of putting up a “No Rats” sign.

Seal all of your entrances: No, I don’t mean seal off your doors, but you do have to make sure that your doors seal when they are closed. You also need to block any holes in the exterior of your house ¼ inch or larger. Check a tape measure, ¼ inch is tiny. Rats are Houdini with tales.

Secure all food and garbage: Why did I lump these together? Because rats think your garbage is food. They like your food too, but they like it better when it has aged a little, or a lot.

The simple answer to food and garbage is seal and elevate. Seal all food in your pantry in rat proof containers elevated on shelves. Don’t leave food out. Your fruit bowl can only have plastic fruit. Don’t leave dirty dishes out.

Store your pet food the same way

Make sure your outdoor garbage cans have lids and don’t put them near anything that a rat could climb on and gain access to the lid. They will get it open.

Give your yard a haircut

A shaggy yard with overhanging bushes, leaf piles, low-hanging branches give rats a great habitat to bivouac while they wait for you to let your guard down when you put out the trash. A well-trimmed yard takes away the rat’s hiding places.

In every possible way, you need to be a clean freak and perfectly organized; don’t be a hoarder. Rats love pack rats.

I do all the above and still call Interstate Pest Control every year for an inspection for rats and all the other pests Portland sends my way. Call them today. If you need further inspiration, I have a couple movies you could cuddle up and watch.