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The complete guide to rats

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Rats are some of the most resilient animals on earth. Considered as a secretive and smart animal, rats are a common nuisance that humans have always dealt once they get into your home or business premises.

There's a reason why rats are so hard to get rid of. They are a highly agile and hard-to-catch pest that is able to enter any building in many ways, and will not hesitate to play hide and seek with humans.

In this page, we compiled a list of the most common questions we received from our customers so you can learn everything that you need to know about rats.

Click one of the questions below to get the correct answers.

General rat questions

  • What is a rat?

  • Where do rats live?

  • What do rats eat?

  • What is a rats lifespan?

  • How fast can rats breed?

  • What diseases do rats carry?

  • Why do rats bite things?

Rat in house questions

  • What attracts rats to your house?

  • What time do rats come out?

  • What are the signs of rats in the house?

  • How do rats get in your house?

Rat control related questions

  • What is rat control?
  • Why should you hire a professional for rat control?
  • How does pest control get rid of rats?
  • How much does rat control cost?

Rat prevention questions

  • How to prevent rats from entering the house?
  • How to prevent rats from entering the car engine?

General rat questions

What is a rat?

Rats are thin-tailed mammal of the order Rodentia that originated in Asia. They are social creatures that live in extended communities and are attached to other rats. Rats categorized as commensal animals, meaning they often found living in close proximity to humans and very often dependent upon humans.

Due to its ability to quickly adapt to the changing environmental conditions, they have become a common pest that can be found inhabiting everywhere from urban to rural areas.

Where do rats live?

Rats can literally live everywhere. Nevertheless, where do rats live will vary depending on both the species of rats and the area they live (e.g rural or urban areas). They are able to quickly adapt to the diverse environment, either in the wild and close to human settlements.

Rats in the wild like in the woods and forests prefer to live in trees and dig burrows underground for protection from predators as well as to store food and raising their young.

On the other hand, when rats live close to humans in urban ecosystems, they can live almost anywhere as long as it has sufficient access to food and shelter to breed.

  • Black rat or roof rat (Rattus rattus) as implied by their name have a tendency to find shelter in the upper parts of buildings, like ceilings or attic.

  • Brown rats or also known as Norwegian rats (Rattus norvegicus) always stay close to ground level and commonly found to live in a place like piles of garbage or under concrete.

What do rats eat?


Rats are opportunistic eaters, meaning they will eat whatever they can find. However, what rats eat depends on where they’re living. In the wild, rats will eat foods like grains, fruits and vegetables.

In the urban area when rats get along with humans, rats take advantage of food waste in the garbage, any human food that they come across and pet food.

What is a rats lifespan?

The lifespan of a rat is difficult to determine. Yet, the lifespan of a rat more or less depends on where they live. This means that pet rats or domesticated rats tend to have a longer lifespan compared to the wild rates.

It is because domesticated rats will always get what they need in order to live longer from the owner, including food, water and shelter.

The other aspects why wild rats life expectancy is shorter than domesticated is the presence of predators they will perceive in the wild environment. Thus, on average the lifespan of pet rats can live up to 4 years. On the other hand, rats in the wild generally will only live for 2 - 3 years.

How fast can rats breed?

Rats have a reputation as fast breeders. A couple of rats can multiply rapidly into large numbers in only a short time to overrun a place.

A female rat pregnancy lasts 21-23 days, and commonly it consists of up to 12 rat pups, although 5-10 pups are more common. Rats reach sexual maturity after 4-5 weeks, meaning that a population can swell from two rats to around 1,250 in one year, with the potential to grow exponentially.

What diseases do rats carry?

Rats aren't just a nuisance but also potentially spread several dangerous diseases which can be harmful to humans.

Rats are known to transmit more than 35 diseases to humans and these disease spread by rats to humans through both direct and indirect contact, including:

  • Handling infected live or dead rats

  • Contact with rat faeces, urine or saliva

  • Getting bitten or scratched

  • Consuming water or food contaminated by rat droppings or urine

What disease do rats spread to humans?

  • Salmonella – is one of the most common types of food poisoning that can happen to both humans and animals via ingestion of food and water that is contaminated with rat faeces and urine.

  • Hantavirus – is a severe rat-borne disease that is transmitted to humans by contact with droppings and urine from infected rats or with dust containing infectious particles.

  • Leptospirosis (Weil’s disease) – is a disease caused by Leptospira bacteria, which are spread through the urine or blood of infected rats. Humans can get this disease by direct contact with soil or water that has been contaminated with the urine of infected rats.

  • Rat-bite fever – is an infection caused by two bacteria Streptobacillus moniliformis and Spirillum minus. Humans usually get the infection when they are bitten or scratched by the infected rats. It can also be transmitted through consuming food or drink contaminated with rat faeces or urine.

Why do rats bite things?


Rats are equipped with large and very strong teeth. In total rats have 16 teeth, and only 4 of them are used specifically for gnawing. These four long and sharp teeth are known as incisors or front teeth, which are located at the upper and the lower part of their mouth.

Rat's incisors teeth continuously grow throughout their entire life, thus by gnawing on many things, it will help rats to keep their teeth from becoming overgrown. The overgrown incisors often result in the rat's death due to its inability to eat.

Rats can bite, gnaw and chew many materials in your property, including:

  • Cable wires
  • Plastic
  • Wood
  • Cinder blocks
  • Metal
  • Wire mesh
  • Glass

Although it is possible, yet very rarely found cases of humans bitten by rats. Rats only attack humans when they feel and/or in a situation from which it is hard to escape. However, rat bites on humans or commonly known as rat-bite fever definitely pose serious health risks.

Rat in house questions

What attracts rats to your house?

Similar to the reasons why pests like cockroach and termites are attracted to invade your house,  there are at least three main factors that can attract rats to your house, namely:

  • Food
  • Water
  • Shelter

Food is more important than water for rats. Rats need to take something to eat, and they can only survive without food for 2 - 4 day. Rats will eat just about anything humans eat without exception.

On the other hand, rats can still live more than a week without water and often to get the water from the food they eat, which normally found in fruits or vegetables.

Additionally, rats get the shelter they need from rubbish piles and abandoned appliances that can be easily found around your house.

What time do rats come out?

By nature, rats are a nocturnal animal. Rats are most active between dusk and dawn and usually hide from humans during the day. However, when the food and water sources are getting limited, it is not impossible if you could see them during the day time.

What are the signs of rats in the house?


Look for these common signs of rats that you can look for to will help you determine whether you have rat problem house at the house, be sure to check for the following:

  • Live rats or dead rats – is the most obvious evidence you have rats infestation at home.
  • Rat droppings – rats leave around 40 droppings per night which are dark and tapered and are about 10-14mm long.
  • Rub marks – rats use established routes along skirting boards and walls due to their poor eyesight.
  • Scratching noises – in ceilings, walls or under the floor as rats scurry around.
  • Rat holes – one of the rat species, brown rats are able to burrows about 6-9 cm in diameter and can be located anywhere that is relatively undisturbed and near to food.
  • Rat nests – it can be found in lofts, attics, crawl spaces, under eaves and even in cavity walls. They will shred available materials such as loft insulation, cardboard and other soft items to make nests.
  • Footprints – rats leave foot and tail marks in dusty, less-used areas of buildings. Shining a torch should reveal tracks clearly. To establish if a rat infestation is active, sprinkle fine flour or powder along a small stretch of floor near the footprints and check for fresh tracks the next day.

Be sure to contact Rentokil if you hear scratching or knocking sounds in the attic, this could be a strong indication that you currently have a black rat problem at home.

How do rats get in your house?

Rats can be very persistent and if they manage to gain access to your house. Once rats get inside your house, they can cause several dangerous situations to your family and house including fire, short circuit, food contamination and transmit several serious diseases to humans.

There are many entry points that rats use to get inside your house, including:

  • Cracks in walls

  • Cracks in the cement and foundation

  • Small gaps or cracks around windows

  • Roof damag

  • Under doors

  • House water drainage system

Rat control related questions

What is rat control?

Rat control is methods need to be taken to eliminate rat infestations in your house and business premises to ensure that you get rid of them once and for all.

For reliable rat control services in Indonesia, contact Rentokil online to speak with one of our experts.

Why should you hire a professional for rat control?


Professional rat control is the quickest and most effective way to get rid of rats, especially for established rat colonies or where there are repeated rat infestations. Below are the reasons why it is best to hire a rat control professional:

  • Comprehensive site inspection to access the source of the attraction, breeding site, level of infestation, and to identify the rat species at your property

  • Effective and targeted rat control tailored to your requirements

  • Treatments will include the control of any potential breeding sites and will advise actions to take according to the pest problems

How does pest control get rid of rats?

There are several methods that can be used for both indoor and outdoor rat control at your property. This includes:

  • Indoor: Rat trap, including snap trap, glue trap and live catch trap.
  • Outdoor: Rat bait with tamper-resistant bait stations and rodenticide bait.

Find out more about the latest Rentokil digital pest control solutions to control rats in the business sector here

How much does rat control cost?

The rat control cost service may vary depending on several significant factors. Including, but not limited to: 

  • Size of the rat infestation
  • Species of rats
  • Findings on other pest problems
  • Size of the property
  • The property type: commercial business or residential

The above listed factors will determine the types of rat control treatments used. It will also determine how many bait traps or other methods of rat removal are needed to get rid of the infestation entirely.


Rat prevention questions

How to prevent rats from entering the house?

Prevention is better than cure. Thus, the best possible thing you can do to prevent rats from entering your house is by making your house less attractive to them.

There are some practical ways that might help you to prevent rats from entering the house, including:

  • Remove clutter such as piles of newspapers and cardboard that rats used to utilize for building their nests
  • Frequently clean up your garden from any debris, shrubs, and bushes that are attached or near to your house structure
  • Seal any cracks, crevices and holes on the exterior of your house including roof structures
  • Make sure that your outdoor trash bin is fitted with lids, and are placed it on a distance away from your house
  • Trash bins inside the house should be kept clean and washed out regularly. Do not leave overnight trash inside your house
  • Secure your foods inside a tightly closed container

We would advise you to act quickly to get rid of rats and prevent a larger infestation developing. Contact Rentokil today to arrange a survey to check for signs of rats.

Rat prevention questions

How to prevent rats from entering the house?


A story about rats entering a car engine might sound familiar to every car owner and you are in big trouble when they decide to take shelter under the hood of your car engine.Rats are always seeking dark, sheltered, and undisturbed locations - your car engines providing an ideal shelter for rats feeding, resting and breeding.

Car engine contains electrical wires that rats like to chew. Once this pesky pest chews away the wires, it can cause short circuits, resulting in costly damage to the engine.

Rats can enter your car engine through many places, including:

  • Air conditioner vent
  • Pedal shafts
  • Cable holes
  • Column steering

While it's impossible for you to completely get rid of rats in your area, yet there are few things you can do to prevent rats from entering the car engine.

When you park your car in the garage (indoor)

  • Clear away potential hiding places for rats – remove any clutters that are generally piled up in a garage that could become rats hiding spots such as newspapers, paper bags, cardboard and bottle crates.

  • Ensure there is sufficient lighting – indoor parking garage typically humid, dark and lacking natural lighting. This situation is often used by rats to build their nest inside your car engine.

  • Avoid leaving your car unused for long periods of time – there are many people who have 2 or more cars parked in the garage, which may be often used. Leaving your car unused for long periods is a bad idea! Besides, it is highly recommended to maintain the car engine, routinely starting your car engine will eliminate the possibility for your cars to be susceptible to rat intrusion.

  • Remove any foods around your car – make sure there is no dry pet food around your car, as well as avoid storing food raw materials for emergency purposes in the garage.

When you park your car in the carport (outdoor)

  • Open the hood – to make the warm spots around the engine less inviting for rats to build their shelter.

  • Remove rats hiding spots – if your outdoor parking lot beside your front house yard, ensure that your yard is clean from any bushes at any time and seal off any possible entry points where rats could gain access to your yard.

  • You have to be extra careful when heavy rain or cold weather – your car engine is exactly the type of warm place that rats like.

If you are concerned about the signs of rats you've seen around your property and think they point to a serious rat infestation, asking for professional pest control help to solve your rat problems is the only best bet.

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