Sleuthing for a Possible Rat Infestation: Rat Tracks and the Presence of the Rodent Intruder

The best way to address a rat infestation is to be as proactive as possible to eliminate the situation. You pace yourself in the best possible position to proactively address an infestation by having a clear understanding of the signs of the presence of rats in the first instance. A key sign that you have rats residing somewhere in your residence or business is the existence of rat tracks. Hence, it’s important for you to understand the basics of rat tracks.

Why Rat Tracks Exist

Rat tracks ultimately come about existing in a residence or business because these rodents are foraging animals. In other words, they walk about looking for food as well as nesting materials. Tracks develop because rats repeat their foraging courses from one expedition to the next. For example, a rat residing in your home may take a foraging course from an out of the way location in your residence where it nests to the kitchen where it is more likely to find food.

The Appearance of Rat Tracks

There are two ways in which rat tracks are identified. The first methodology is based upon the footprints these animals leave. Keep in mind you are more apt to see footprints outside in the dirt. Footprints are less likely to be seen inside a residence, with some exceptions. For example, if dust accumulates in some areas in your residence, rat footprints might show up in that debris.

There is a second way to identify rat tracks, particularly indoors. Rats can and oftentimes do leave what can fairly be described as a greasy trail. By their very nature, rats leave a trail behind them that can consist of excretions from their bodies and urine. In addition, these trails can include pheromones. They leave this trail in their wake not only as a means of identifying their pathways for future use but to mark territory as well.

Other Components of Rat Tracks

In addition to the two essential components of rat tracks just discussed, there are two other elements associated with the trekking of these rodents through a home or business:

  • Gnaw marks
  • Droppings

As rats travel and forage in a home or business they are likely to gnaw on the physical structure of the building and objects in it. Rats gnaw for a number of reasons, including the fact that their incisors never stop growing. They must gnaw on them in order to control growth.

In addition, rats gnaw on the physical structure of a building as part of its efforts to get from one location to another. For example, a rat will gnaw through sheetrock in order to create a passageway from one area to another. Rats will gnaw on objects like food packages and the like in order to find nourishment.

Rat droppings are also a part of the tracks these rodents leave behind when they forage and otherwise move from one location to another in a residence or business. Rats defecate not only in or near their nests but when they are in transit. Over time, droppings trails will develop in different locations in a residence or business.

In a moment, we will discuss the inherent dangers of rat droppings. Indeed, we will discuss the dangers that the other elements of rat tracks can present to residents of a home and people who access a business.

Where You are Likely to Find Rat Tracks

When it comes to discussing where you are likely to find rat tracks the real focus needs to be on where you are not likely to find them. You are not at all likely to find rat tracks on open areas or spaces in your home or business. Rats, and many other types of rodents, do not feel secure – at all – in open areas.

Understanding this element of a rat’s nature, you are likely to find rat tracks in locations in your residence off the beaten path. This includes spaces like the attic or storage closets that are not often accessed.

A key location in your home or business at which you are apt to find rat tracks if you have an infestation is along walls. When rats go out and about to forage, they will traverse along walls as a means of providing them a sense of security.

Dangers of Rat Droppings and Rat Tracks

Rat droppings and rat tracks can present a health hazard to you and other people in your home or business. Rat droppings and urine can carry dangerous pathogens, including bacteria or viruses that have the potential for causing illness, including serious disease. Remember, as discussed, rat tracks can contain urine.

There are pathogens that can persist or live in rat droppings even after they dry. These include the hantavirus, a pathogen that can result in a very serious illness called hantavirus pulmonary syndrome. There is no cure or treatment for this condition. Rather, some people recover on their own. However, over 30 percent of individuals who contract this illness die.

In summary, as a home or business owner you are wise to undertake regular inspections of your property with the specific intent of identifying any evidence of the existence of rats and other vermin. As noted, rat tracks can be a prime and even early evidence of the presence of these rodents in your home or business.