The presence of rats inside your home can easily lead to a lot of serious problems.
In this guide you will find:
- Should you call for a rat exterminator?
- When should you call for an exterminator?
- How much does a rat exterminator cost?
- What to discuss with your rat exterminator
- How to screen for rat exterminators
- How to take care of pets during treatment
- What to do when the exterminator leaves
- Should you tell your neighbors?
If you need a rat exterminator, we recommend Orkin, Terminix, and Aptive to get rid of rats in your home. These companies have some of the highest trained professionals that are able to use traps, baits, and other chemically treated solutions, which can be dangerous to use if not handled correctly.
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Ed has been working in the pest control industry for years helping 1,000's of homeowners navigate the world of insect and rodent management. He manages Pest Strategies now helping homeowners around the world!
Table Of Contents
What Factors Influence the Cost?
Several conditions affect the price you pay to eliminate rats from your home. However, there’s typically a cumulative effect when pest control companies combine all of these. So, it’s important to understand the many factors involved in the process of figuring out your estimate.
Species of Rat
Norway rats burrow into the ground to build their nests, and they typically follow sewer pipes to invade homes from underneath.
Roof rats are different. They infest attic spaces by climbing trees to gain access. Also, they prefer to nest in warm thermal insulation during the winter months.
Both species present unique challenges. So, it comes down to which one the exterminator is most comfortable treating, and that’s probably the most important reason for getting at least a few estimates.
Size of the Infestation
The number of rats running around isn’t as crucial as the likelihood of future infestations. So, the rat removal cost will typically be based on the potential for rodent infestations to increase rapidly.
That means the technician will have to work quickly and possibly apply more material. This increased urgency could also bump up the price potentially.
The size of the home generally plays an important role in the overall cost of major pest control services. However, it’s not an exact science.
The technician will typically make a mental note of the square footage without actually measuring your home. In most cases, you won’t pay more unless you have an unusually large property.
Location of the Problem
With rat infestations, the area where they nest makes a difference. Also, the number of rooms that are infested will factor into the equation. And finally, accessibility can play a role in what price you pay for the service.
For example, suppose a few rats invade your attic space. For that, you’ll probably pay between $200 and $300 to remove them. However, if several rooms in your house are infested, you’ll pay about $100 more per room, on average.
There are other scenarios that may increase the price. For example:
- Requesting bait stations around the perimeter of your property
- Adding storage sheds or barns
- Controlling pet areas
- Cramped crawl spaces that are difficult for the technician to access
Trapping rodents is a labor-intensive process. So, it could increase your price considerably if that’s the only method available. For that reason, it’s essential to ask which procedures the technician will use during the process.
For example, expect to receive a better price if they only set out a few rodenticide bait boxes around your house. That’s especially true if there’s no follow-up service offered.
However, you should insist on a combination of rodent control methods. This includes trapping, baiting, and mechanical exclusion techniques. Also, it’s a good idea to ask for a follow-up service visit, if only to remove dead animals.
When To Call for a Rat Exterminator
There are several valid reasons for hiring a professional right away to remove rats from your home. Here are just a few.
- The infestation level is high. If you wait any longer, things can really get out of hand. As it is, your family members may already be at their breaking point.
- You don’t have time to handle it yourself. Your regular job may be pulling you away from your household maintenance. That happens sometimes. Besides, the last thing you want to do after a long day of work is chase rats!
- It can be a dirty job. Getting on your hands and knees in a crawl space setting traps is not much fun. Also, picking up dead rats can get pretty gross.
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Signs and Causes of Rat Infestations
There are things to look for when deciding if you have a rat problem in your home. Here are the most common signs of rats:
Rat feces are about 3/4 inch long and are tapered only at one end. Fresh droppings are usually dark brown to black and shiny. However, dried fecal matter indicates an abandoned nest and usually turns a light brown after a few days.
Entrance holes can be as small as the size of a quarter. However, most are much larger, and they typically have teeth marks outlining the edges.
Rats, raccoons, and other critters chew through electrical wiring. So, it’s vital to look for additional signs to identify rats. However, chewed wiring is a good starting point to discover infestations.
The Most Common Causes of Rat Infestations
Rats need water to survive, just like any other animal. So, they’re typically drawn to irrigation systems, water leaks, and pool equipment.
Also, rats must eat to survive. So, they invade open trash containers, raw sewage areas, and food storage rooms.
Norway rats eat almost anything available. In contrast, roof rats forage for fruits and nuts dropped from produce trees. However, both species will eat food left out after a party or outdoor gathering when given a chance.
Health Risks of Rats
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), rats are important vectors for several diseases, including:
Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) is a disease caused by breathing the dust from rodent fecal matter. It’s most commonly seen in construction workers and pest control operators working in confined spaces where rodent droppings are present.
Both rats and mice are vectors for the disease but are not affected by it. Also, human-to-human transmission is rare. Symptoms of HPS include:
- Shortness of breath
- Elevated heart rate
- Fluid build-up in lungs
Bubonic plague is an infection that attacks the lymphatic system. It’s carried by fleas transported on rats and other animals. Here are some of the more common symptoms:
- Muscle cramps
- Lymph gland swelling
- Gangrene of the extremities
Human contact with rat urine is the primary cause of leptospirosis. Although it’s uncommon in the U.S., about 150 cases are reported each year, mostly in tropical areas. Symptoms of the disease include:
- Muscle ache
- Red eye
- Bleeding of the lungs
Rat-bite fever is a bacterial infection in humans caused by rat bites or scratching. It can also be transmitted by contact with rat urine or feces. These are some of the key symptoms of the disease:
- Sore throat
- Joint and muscle pain
Should You DIY or Hire a Professional?
Removing and preventing rats from your home is not for the faint of heart — it can get a little messy. However, we’ll take you through the process here so you can have a clear understanding of what to expect.
Start With Exclusion
Most pest control operations dictate that you end with this step. However, since mechanical exclusion measures may take a few days, it’s best to start with them.
The easiest place to begin is by stuffing some steel wool into all pipe entry points throughout your home. You can also use expansion foam. However, it can be a little tricky to work into those tight spaces.
Next, be sure to screen areas where rodents can enter. A great place to start is with your attic vents. Then, work out toward openings around eaves and overhangs.
Last, you’ll need to silicone caulk foundation cracks, window sills, and door jams. This step may seem a little silly. However, rodents, including rats, can squeeze through the tiniest openings.
Clean Nesting Areas
This is the dirtiest part of the job. However, it’s crucial to your success. You want to send a message to the invading rats that they’re no longer welcome in your home.
To pick up dried rodent feces, it’s best to use a powerful vacuum cleaner or shop vac. However, it’s vital to wear an OSHA-approved respirator while doing this. It will protect you from hantavirus and other airborne illnesses.
To remove rodent urine trails, use a solution of bleach and water. However, be careful around any exposed wiring. The liquid may create a grounding condition, causing an electrical shock.
Trap Any Remaining Rats
The next part of the rat control process involves setting out rat traps to remove any remaining live adults. Snap traps baited with dried prunes work the best for roof rats. Nearly anything will work for Norway rats, including peanut butter.
Set traps perpendicular to the wall. This position will set them off, even if the rat simply runs over them without tripping the bait mechanism.
Glue traps tend to be a bit messier. But you can still use them while applying some bait to the center portion. Just be sure to get the kind labeled for rats instead of mice; they tend to hold up a lot better.
Hiring a Professional
Extermination costs are typically more when hiring a professional. However, it’s usually well worth it. Following is a list of the three top-rated companies offering the best value in the industry.
- Aptive Environmental takes wildlife removal seriously by using eco-friendly trapping instead of relying exclusively on fumigation or rat poisons. Its rodent removal service is also safe for children and pets.
- Orkin typically offers a free quote for most of its services. It also guarantees it’s work for up to 30 days. So, you can be sure that, no matter what the pest problem, its technicians have you covered.
- Terminix follows through with its service, even if it means removing dead rats. It also respects homeowners through constant communication throughout the entire process.
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Finals Word on Rat Extermination
When trying to figure out how to get rid of rats in your home, it helps to have a reliable source of information. Hopefully, we’ve provided that for you here.
So, whether you DIY or hire out, try to be patient. Rat removal is a process that could take up to a few weeks to accomplish. But no matter how long it takes, getting rid of them is well worth it!