The Importance of a Thorough Rodent Inspection

There it was. Dead. A rat had died right on top of the engine cover under the hood of her beautiful Mercedes. The picture said it all!

Believe me. Rats infest where they want to infest. With over 20 years in the industry, I think I have seen it all, but then, there is always something new when it comes to understanding rats, their behavior and biology, how they relate to people and the structures we create, and how to control them.

Rat control begins with the simple understanding – It doesn’t matter who you are, how much money you make or don’t make, whether you live in the city of Bellevue or if you live out in the suburbs, whether you are a homeowner or whether you live in an apartment, rats are all around the Puget Sound area looking to infest your property.

I think this is the biggest mistake homeowners and many pest control technicians make, they exclude themselves based on a lack of sightings, of things that are obvious. Because we don’t see rats, or because we don’t see openings, we assume that our homes are free of rats.

The worst mistake I have found, however, is the “I got it!” mistake. I see and hear this all the time. This simple mistake offers short term peace of mind but in the long run can costs thousands of dollars in repairs. The problem is, it’s not only homeowners who make this mistake, but exterminating companies are guilty too.

What is the “I got it!” mistake? It is the mistake of not looking closely, of not understanding the real threat rodents pose. This is when the homeowner or technician finds a rat in the trap and assumes that is the end of it. It is when one opening is found and sealed, “I got it!” Prematurely, the problem is forgotten, and years go by with rats coming and going as they please, irreversibly damaging thousands of dollars of insulation and other materials.

The truth is that rats are communal, family oriented. They are prolific breeders. They follow the scents of other rats. They are smart. Once a place is found to be hospitable, others will follow along. There is never just one. Likewise, when it comes to entry points, a thorough inspection of the entire perimeter of the home, including the roof line and the crawl space is required to gain control. Finding one opening does preclude the existence of other openings. So, while you may have found one opening and are content with that, rats, now that your home has been marked will continue to put pressure on your home until they find another opening.

Effective solutions and control of a rat infestation require a thorough inspection and a commitment by both the client and the pest control technician to have every entry point sealed. Until rodent exclusion is complete, you cannot assume that the problem is resolved. Once the exclusion portion of the program is completed, snap traps should be employed. Snap traps will, after exclusion, be the most effective way of catching remaining rats without the risk of a rodent dyeing in a wall void or on a furnace vent which creates a terrible odor.

Rats, “roof rats” especially, are among the most difficult pests to control, but paying attention and looking beyond our basic assumptions will prevent the most costly mistakes. Avoid denial. It’s best to see the infestation for what it is. It is a problem that needs attention. When selecting a pest control company make sure to ask about their training, their quality assurance, their philosophy about pest control. Often times you will have to pay more for a company that will not fall prey to the “I got it!” mistake. But paying more, for better service up front can save you thousands in the end.