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When To Call an Exterminator for Rats

Exterminator For Rats

The first thing any homeowner thinks of doing after sighting a rat is to lay a trap. This is an easy and often effective DIY way to deal with minor rat disturbances.

After catching a lone rat or a couple of mice, it is easy to think that the problem is solved. However, spotting one rat in your house may indicate a brewing mouse infestation that calls for urgent attention.

So, when exactly should you call a rat exterminator to help? In this guide, we will walk you through 10 tell-tale signs to watch out for.


Spotting a rat in your house is a serious issue that demands urgent attention. The presence of rats can pose serious health risks for your family and pets. It can affect your house’s structural integrity since rats tend to gnaw on wood.

But how can you tell if the infestation is serious enough to require professional services? Below are a few signs to keep an eye on:

  • Scratch sounds and marks around your house
  • Rat tracks or footprints on the floor
  • Strong ammonia-like smells in the house

These are a few signs. We will discuss more below.

In this article, you will learn ten sure signs that you need to call a rat exterminator to handle your rat infestation problem. We have also included a FAQ section to answer other common queries about engaging professional rat exterminators.

10 Signs You Need To Call a Rat Exterminator

There are several DIY strategies for handling rat infestations, like food poisoning and trapping. However, most of these remedies often come with risks. Also, they are unsafe if there are children and pets around.

Another downside of these do-it-yourself remedies is that they may have no effect when facing a full-blown infestation.

The safest thing is to call for professional help to eliminate the entire rat population. Here are a few signs that may suggest that the situation may have gotten out of hand and already require professional services:

1. You Notice Rat Droppings

Rat Droppings

Whether fresh or wet or all dried up, rat droppings are often the first indication of a rat infestation. Their droppings are black, long, and about the size of long-grain rice.

However, how big the dropping will depend on the size of the rat, as bigger rats have bigger poop.

One rat can produce five to ten droppings daily. So, the number of droppings you notice can indicate the size of the rat population in your house.

Once you notice these black droppings, call a rat exterminator. In the meantime, before the exterminator arrives, do not attempt to touch the droppings with your bare hands. The reason is that these rodents carry diseases that can spread through contact with their urine or excreta.

For example, humans can catch the hantavirus by breathing dust from rat urine or feces floating in the air. That is why sweeping rat droppings is not advisable, either.

Instead, pour bleach over it and use paper towels to remove the droppings while wearing protective gear. Sanitize and clean the area afterward to ensure there are no lingering germs.

2. There Are Scratch Sounds & Marks Around Your House

Woman Hearing Scratching Sounds

When rats enter a house, they take shelter in ceilings, attics, basements, or even walls. They love these places because they are soft and cozy and provide the insulation they need.

One of the ways you can know a rat is inside your house is from the tell-tale scratching sounds. Soft squeaking sounds typically follow these scratches on walls, floorboards, and ceilings.

You may hear these noises mostly at night or early morning because that is when rats are mostly active. The scratching sounds indicate they hunt for food, gather supplies, or build a nest.

These may not bother you as much as rats leaving their droppings. However, scratching rats can cause extensive damage over time if not controlled.

For example, gnawing rats can damage the electrical wiring in your walls and chew through food packaging and baseboards. Not only will fixing the damage cost you money, but these scratching rats can also pose a danger to your family.

3. You Notice Gnawed Items

Carrot Bitten By Rat

Another sign of a rat infestation is damaged items. In the kitchen or pantry, damaged food packaging often indicates that rats have gained entry.

When rats get past food packaging, they leave uneven holes and gnaw marks on the packaging material. As rats defecate frequently, you may spot their droppings around your food items.

This can contaminate your food and spread diseases to your family. So, call an exterminator immediately if you notice this sign.

Food items are not the only things rats chew through. Since their teeth are always growing, they chew almost anything to keep the length in check.

These can include furniture, wires, papers, and even metals. All the above are red flags indicating a need to contact a pest control company before the issue becomes serious.

4. Your Pet Becomes Erratic

Puppy Running Around The House

For many people, what made them notice a rat infestation was that their pet started acting weird.

If you notice erratic behavior in your cat or dog, they may have heard the noise of rats. Or, they caught the distinct smell of rats.

You may notice your pet sniffing and scratching at the floorboards. Or they are barking and chasing something around.

These are all signs of rodent presence in your house. Once you notice this, check for tell-tale signs like droppings under the sink or behind the washing machine.

If you spot moist droppings, it means that the infestation is recent. But if the droppings are dry and turning grey, the rats have been there for a while.

Whichever is the case, it is time to call rat control experts to handle the problem.

5. You Spot Debris and Nesting Materials

Rat Inside The Hole In The Wall

Rats love to build a nest in hidden areas like attics, garages, and holes within the walls. As a result, they tend to collect dried plants, shredded paper, torn insulation materials, and other debris.

If you notice these materials in odd places, especially close to rat tracks or droppings, these rodents may be nearby.

Search for a company that handles rat elimination and get them to come to your house.

6. You Notice Rat Tracks or Footprints

Powder On The Floor

Once rats adjust to a place, they start to move around freely. As they do so, they leave marks that are sometimes hard for humans to see.

If you suspect rat activity in your house, sprinkle some talcum powder on the floor before going to bed. The next morning, inspect the powder and check for small animal footprints.

Once you notice any, call a rat removal company immediately.

7. You Notice Visible Rat Holes and Wood Shavings

Rat On The Wood

Rats chew through the wood around the house, including cabinets and drawers.

Seeing wood shavings on the floor, especially in the kitchen, indicates that rats are inside your house.

Rat teeth are strong enough to bore holes in your walls up to four inches. Inside these holes, they build nests that can hold up to five rats.

Noticing these signs indicates a serious rat infestation in your house. So, call a rat extermination expert immediately.

8. There Is a Strong Smell in Your House

Smelling The Strong Odor In The House

Due to their urine, rats have a distinct, unpleasant, ammonia-like smell. When rats invade a house, they leave their urine and droppings. Over time, this can stink up the house.

Worse still, rat retreats to hidden corners when they are about to die. The smell of their corpse can be overbearing, and the longer the infestation, the stronger the smell.

As a result, houses with a rat infestation problem typically have a heavy, pungent stench. If your pets have become active in a particular area or your nose picks up a scent, it may indicate a serious problem.

It is important to act fast because rat smells spread fast and can make your house inhabitable. Call a rat exterminator to deal with the problem immediately after you notice it.

9. You Notice Grease Smears

Discoloration On The Wall

Rat fur often contains grease, which can leave marks on wood, walls, or floor tiles. If these rats frequent a particular area often, it can cause grease buildup.

This grease buildup can spread and cause discoloration, which is not a good sight. So, check for discolored areas while inspecting your house for signs of a rat infestation.

If you spot discolorations near holes in the wall or baseboards, it may indicate the presence of rodents.

10. You Spot Live Rats

Rat Spotted

The signs above may suggest the presence of rats in your house. But spotting a rat scuttling around your house is the surest way to tell if these rodents are already sharing your building with you. It is all the confirmation you need.

Rats are most active at night. Seeing one during the day is not a good sign. It could mean that their nest has become overpopulated, leaving a much bigger problem on your hands.

If that is the case, you will have more rat droppings and urine residue to clean up. Also, there is the strong smell of multiple rats to deal with.

At this point, getting a professional to handle the problem permanently is advisable.


Spotting a rat in your house is a serious issue that demands urgent attention. The presence of rats can pose serious health risks for your family and pets. It can affect your house’s structural integrity since rats tend to gnaw on wood.

That is why we recommend calling a rat exterminator once you notice tell-tale signs of rat presence. Above, we detailed key signs to look out for, like scratching sounds and rat droppings.

Once you notice these signs, reach out to the nearest rat exterminator in your area to handle the infestation.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Much Does a Rat Exterminator Charge?

There are no direct answers to this question. How much a rat exterminator will charge depends on many factors, including your location and the severity of the infestation.

While the charges of professional rat exterminators are often high, we can assure you that their services are worth the pay.

However, before engaging a rat extermination company, you may want to request quotations from two or three companies in your area. This will give you an idea of the probable cost and guide your negotiation.

How Many Rats Should You Catch Before Calling an Exterminator?

We recommend calling for professional help once you spot a rat, regardless of whether or not you catch it. Rats multiply fast. It only takes a couple to reproduce hundreds of rats.

If you do not want multiple breeding rats living with you, call for help immediately after you notice their presence.

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