Rodents are the biggest group of mammals, consisting of almost half of the whole mammalian population with around 4,600 species. Chipmunks, squirrels, beavers and prairie dogs are just some of the most popular rodent species native to the United States, playing an important role in forest and grassland preservation as they serve as a major food source for scavengers and predators like bobcats, foxes, hawks and wolves.
Alas, not all rodents are helpful. If your home has ever been infested with house mice or rats, you know how much damage they can bring. Not only do these pesky creatures destroy property; they also ruin crops, contaminate food supplies and even threaten public health.
But, just how vicious is the destructive power of rats? Here are ten ways rats bring significant damage to your property, your health and your wallet.
(1) Rats are discriminating eaters. Black rats do not just eat any kind of food; they tend to have favorite foods which they specialize in looking for. On the other hand, the Norway rat, also known as the brown rat, eats all kinds. However, they eat only the tastiest and freshest food they can find. When a rat eats, it holds its food in between its paws, leaving crumbs and morsels on the surface. Rats are highly territorial, marking their loot with urine and contaminating the rest of the food, even if they have eaten only a small part of it.
(2) Rats eat as much as 25 times a day, consuming anywhere from 10% to 15% of their body weight daily. But, because of their eating habits, they tend to ruin as much as 10 times of the food they eat, sometimes even more.
(3) Rats like sharpening their teeth, and they do this by gnawing through electrical insulation. They do not make any distinction; they like chewing through vehicle wires, electric cables and even thermal insulation. If you cannot explain why you cannot start your car, why you are suddenly experiencing uncanny power outages or why your heating costs have shot up, you probably have a resident rat that is doing all the damage. Besides making a big dent in your house repair expenses, rats also increase the risk of fires.
(4) Rats love babies and not because that little version of you is stinking cute. Rats are suckers for the smell of milk, so make sure to take the bottle from the baby as soon as she is finished, washes her face and her hands, and never leave the baby alone in the crib, especially if she’s got food on her. Rats have been known to attack and bite babies in cribs. Just imagine how traumatic and dangerous an experience as such would be for a baby. It would be wise to take the same precaution with the elderly or disabled members of the family who cannot take proper care of themselves.
(5) Another thing rats love is roofing. Not because they like basking out in the sun, but because they like chewing on roof eaves to let their rat friends into the house. And, you know how enormous the damage a leaky roof can be on a rainy day.
(6) All the world’s a toilet for the rat. Rats defecate up to 60 times a day, spreading their stinky droppings that attract other rodents and increase the risk for transmitted infections like tapeworms, salmonellosis and even respiratory problems caused by Hantavirus.
(7) Rat urine also causes leptospirosis, an infectious disease that can result in joint pain, fever and even multiple organ failure that can lead to death. People used to contract leptospirosis from cleaning up rat infestations or by handling dog or cat urine that has been contaminated with spirochetes, tentacled bacteria that can change their shape and thicken cell walls in order to resist drugs. Increase in rat numbers has resulted in the resurgence of this disease.
(8) Rats are a threat to pets. These furry rodents can attack animals bigger than them, especially if the rats outnumber the said animals. Because rats have taken a taste to kibble, they can also take their share of the food you prepare for your pet dog or cat while unwittingly giving your beloved pet diarrhea and intestinal parasites.
(9) Rats cause broken homes – literally. Brown rats are burrowing animals, and can undermine the foundation of your home. If you think this is an exaggeration, think again. There have been instances where rats have caused the shifting of interior walls, doors and windows, trapping residents inside the house because the door won’t even open anymore. Burrowing rats can also cause gas pipes and plumbing connections to shift.
(10) Rats are a gardener’s nightmare. They can dig through your flowerbeds, eat your seedlings, your bulbs and whatever produce you have, especially in late summertime. It is never enough to drive these pesky vermin out of the house, because your lawn or garden might just be their next point of attack.
Rat infestations can cause a lot of money, sometimes even financial ruin to a family. In the United States alone, $500 million to $1 billion are spent in damages caused by rats. There have also been instances when individual homeowners suffer as much as a million dollars due to rat infestations.
Do you suspect rats in your home? Get rid of them fast, before they bring real danger and devastation to your health and home.