If you see what looks like a large mouse in your garage you have seen a pack rat. Rats of any kind can cause serious damage quickly.
Pack Rats chew wiring and nest in houses and vehicles. The result of rats living near you is fire and destruction. We have had a customers car start on fire while she was driving down the road because of pack rats. A few days later the rats chewed some wiring in her neighbors truck.
At my mother's house Pack Rats got into her house and stored 10 pounds of nuts in her dryer vent. The rats then partially chewed her phone lines and which did not work properly for six months. At my Aunt's house some rats chewed her car's wiring which cost her a couple of day's and $2300 dollars to fix.
My mother lives out of town and my Aunt lives in the center of Lawrence. These are not uncommon stories. I know of one mechanic that has 5 cars waiting to be repaired at his shop, because of Haley Pest Control has the solution to your rat problems.
Wood rats more commonly known as “pack rats" or trade rats are found throughout most of the United States. Wood rats are commonly called Pack Rats or Trade Rats because they collect or “pack-around” various objects and bits of material to deposit in, or use in the construction of their nests.
Wood rats are especially fond of small, bright, shiny objects which they will readily confiscate, but bones, cow chips, and bits of wood are all common. When Wood rats encounter an interesting object they drop or trade what they are carrying for the new item, consequently the name “trade rat”. There are 8 species of wood rats in the U.S.
Wood rats are about the size of a common Norway rat but the tail is fairly well furred and looks like a short-haired squirrel tail. They are also well furred and have large protruding ears.
Wood rats nest are built of plant material like branches, twigs, sticks and other debris. The huge, beaver-dam-shaped structures may be up to 4 feet across. They may be constructed in a tree or on the ground at the base of a tree, on rocky ledges but also in your attic, wood shed, or vehicles and machinery which are abandoned or parked for long periods.
Wood rats also construct and use latrine areas which are piles of feces, often on a rock or other structure, which also contains a smelly sticky black tar like substance. Consequently, their stick nests can be extensive, and the latrine areas and droppings are objectionable. Like other rats the wood rat can carry diseases and ectoparasites.
The pack rat is active year-round, feeding during winter on vegetation stored during the previous fall. Diets vary, but wood rats will eat just about any plant that grows in their territory. Wood rats climb readily and are usually active at night.
Wood rats can become quite a nuisance around homes on the edge of town, vacation homes, cabins, outbuildings, and other infrequently used structures or buildings. They will take up residence in parked farm equipment and vehicles, gnawing on wires and other mechanical components, in addition to stealing treasures for their nests or building large nests in the vehicle or equipment.
Wood rats are known to shred upholstered furniture and mattresses for lining nests. Damage to fruit trees, seedlings and saplings due to clipping small twigs and branches and debarking may also occur.
Exclusion and Barriers to Entry
Wood rats are climbers so you must also exclude them from attic or roof level. Pieces of tin, hardware cloth or chicken wire can be used to seal up any opening along foundations, walls, chimneys, eaves, or roofs. It is important to seal up any openings where pipes, wires, etc. enter buildings.
It becomes more difficult to exclude Pack Rats in vehicles and equipment or even some outbuildings. However, removing the nesting materials and periodically moving the equipment will discourage or deter them, and trapping can eliminate them.
Rodent Proofing Your Home
- Repair or replace damaged ventilation screen around the foundation and under eaves. Provide a tight fitting cover for the crawl space.
- Seal all openings around pipes, cables, and wires that enter through walls or the foundation. Be sure all windows that can be opened are screened and that the screens are in good condition. Cover all chimneys with a spark arrester. Make sure internal screens on roof and attic air vents are in good repair.
- Cover rooftop plumbing vent pipes in excess of 2 inches in diameter with screens over their tops.
- Make sure all exterior doors are tight fitting and weatherproofed at the bottom. Seal gaps beneath garage doors with a gasket or weather-stripping.
- Install self-closing exits or screening to clothes dryer vents to the outside.
- Remember that pet doors into the house or garage provide an easy entrance for rodents. Keep side doors to the garage closed, especially at night.
- Keep pet food, bird food, and grass seed in tight sealed storage bins.
When food, water, and shelter are available, rat populations can reproduce and grow quickly. While the most permanent form of control is to limit food, water, shelter, and access to buildings, direct population control is often necessary.
Rats and mice cause serious damage to homes, farm buildings and feed storage structures. One rat can eat about 30 pounds of grain per year and will contaminate perhaps 10 times that amount with their urine, feces, and hair. Rodents destroy insulation and other structural components of buildings.
Damage to insulation alone may amount to several thousand dollars in only a few years. Energy loss from rodent-damaged buildings results in added annual costs. Rodents also spread a variety of diseases, such as brucellosis, leptospirosis, salmonellosis, swine dysentery, toxoplasmosis, trichinosis, and tuberculosis to humans and pets.
Physical Abilities of Rats and Mice
To prevent rodent entry, their capabilities must be understood. For example, rats and mice can: run along or climb electrical wires, ropes, cables, vines, shrubs, and trees to gain entry to a building; climb almost any rough vertical surface such as wood, brick, concrete, and weathered sheet metal; crawl horizontally along pipes, augers, conveyors, and conduit; and gnaw through a wide variety of materials, including aluminum sheeting, wood, rubber, vinyl, plastic, and concrete block.
Rats can climb the outside of vertical pipes and conduit up to 3 inches in diameter, climb the outside of larger pipes attached to buildings by bracing themselves against the wall, and climb the inside of 1 1/2- to 4-inch vertical pipes; jump up 36 inches vertically and 48 inches horizontally; drop 50 feet without serious injury; burrow straight down into the ground at least 36 inches; reach up to 13 inches along vertical walls; and swim 1/2 mile in open water, dive through water traps in plumbing, and travel in sewer lines against a substantial current.
Holes and Openings
The paired front teeth (incisors) of rats and mice curve slightly inward, making it difficult for them to gnaw on flat, hard surfaces. When given a rough surface or an edge to bite, however, they can quickly gnaw into most materials.
Rats can gain entry through holes as small as 1/2 inch in diameter; mice can use holes as small as 1/4 inch in diameter. Rats can squeeze through any opening greater than 1/2 inch wide. Smaller openings are often enlarged by gnawing. Mice can enter a building through any opening larger than 1/4 inch wide .
To prevent rodent entry, seal all such holes with durable materials. Coarse steel wool is a good temporary plug when packed tightly into openings. Copper and stainless steel wool are also effective and last longer. Close openings around augers, pipes, and electrical conduits or cables with concrete, mortar, or metal collars. Any unprotected opening is an invitation to rodents.