Wrigley Field, deep-dish pizza, and the Magnificent Mile are just a few of the things that make Chicago famous. One distinction that Windy City may not be as well known for is its recent designation as the nation’s top “rat capital.”
Though studies differ, according to a RentHop study, Chicago is the city with the highest number of rodent complaints. RentHop determined this by analyzing 311 complaints. Tourists, on the other hand, need not be concerned. Downtown Chicago neighborhoods such as The Loop, Gold Coast, and River North have fewer reported complaints.
However, there is some cause for concern among city dwellers. Rats can cause damage to your property, as well as your health and sense of security. They can chew through electrical wires (posing a fire hazard), eat drywall, and tear insulation. They can also do more than just cause damage to your home. Rats can excrete pathogens in their urine or droppings, which can cause disease.
With female rats having seven to ten litters per year and six to ten babies per litter, it doesn’t take long for a few house rats to become a larger infestation. Learn how three simple steps – sanitizing, repairing, and reporting – can aid in the fight against these unwanted intruders.
Rodents can cause significant damage to older, inner-city buildings and utilities that are in poor repair in large cities. Rat infestations are possible in new housing developments, but they are more noticeable in neighborhoods that are more than ten years old. Rats can fit their bodies through a half-inch crack, so sealing holes in interior and exterior walls and flooring can help limit their access to your home. A rat can fit through a quarter-sized hole, and a mouse can fit through a dime-sized hole. They can also get into your house, so have tree branches trimmed away from your roof and utility lines and have any roof damage repaired. Keep drains covered with screens or metal grates to keep rats out of sewer pipes.
Eliminating rats’ food sources is one way to help keep them away. Consider how food is stored outside of your home as well. Food waste should be stored in heavy-duty, sealed trash cans, and pet food in sealed containers. Remember that rats are thirsty, so remove any unnecessary outdoor water sources.
Recognizing the signs of a rat infestation and reporting them can help you avoid dealing with more severe damage later. If you notice any of the following, you most likely have a rodent infestation:
- Rat droppings in food packaging, drawers, and cupboards, and under the sink
- Gnawing marks on food packaging or other materials
- Tracks of rats (footprints or tail marks)
- Materials for rat nests include shredded paper, furniture stuffing, and other soft materials.
- Sounds of scurrying or squeaking in walls
What Is the Appearance of a Rat’s Nest?
The roof rat, Rattus rattus, and the Norway rat, Rattus norvegicus, are the two most common types of rats in the United States. While both species can be found in both urban and rural areas, they are not friends. Norway rats are larger and will take over a territory at the expense of smaller roof rats. Despite their animosity, these rats do share some characteristics. Consider their construction of rat nests.
Rat burrows Rats are adaptable rodents who will adapt to any situation they find themselves in. In terms of living habits, you can find evidence of a rat nest, rat burrow, or rat hole, depending on which was easiest to find.
If you discover rat holes and burrows, they are almost always the work of Norway rats. Burrowing rats are frequently found alongside foundations, in overgrown areas, and beneath garbage or woodpiles. Their burrows or nests can be found in basements or lower levels of houses and buildings. It is possible for multiple burrows to exist in close proximity to one another. So, how does a rat hole look?
A rat’s burrow entrance is typically 2 to 4 inches wide. Active burrows have smooth walls, hard-packed dirt, and loose dirt fanning out at the entrance. Debris and spider webs will also be removed from the entrance. Stuff old newspaper or leaves down the entry hole and wait to see if a burrow is active. Rats will usually clear the opening within a day or two if they are present.
Now that you’ve seen the outside, you might be wondering, “What does a rat burrow look like on the inside?” A tunnel connects the entrance to several escape holes and the main nest, which is belowground, in Norway rat burrows. Burrows can be up to 18 inches deep, with up to 3 feet of rat tunnels, and can house several rodents.
Nests of rats Roof rats, as the name implies, build their nests above ground. These rodents’ nests are frequently found in trees, attics, and areas overgrown with vines or shrubbery. They can also be found in walls, cabinetry, and hollow ceilings. Roof rats rarely dig burrows for their nests if another option is available because they prefer to travel aboveground.
Most rats will have multiple nesting sites or burrows, and the rodent family will move between them. Rats require water on a daily basis, so all sites must have access to a water source.
Understanding rodent control is essential if you want to keep rats and mice out of your home. Rat traps can be one of the most effective methods of eradication, but there are a few important things to consider before putting traps or rat bait in your home.
In situations where a rat infestation has not yet occurred, rat traps can be useful. When trying to catch one or two rats, a rat trap can ensure that the rodent is completely removed from the house.
“Trapping is recommended for sensitive environments such as schools, homes, and hospitals, as well as where rat populations are low,” says Stephen M. Vantassel, Extension Project Coordinator of Wildlife Damage at the University of Nebraska. However, Vantassel cautions that the placement of rat traps may be best left to professionals. “While effective, trapping requires more skill and labor than most other methods,” he says.