There are two species of rats that are structural pests in the Athens area and most of Georgia. In urban areas, Norway rats (also called brown rats, wharf rats, or sewer rats) are the more common of the two. In rural or wooded areas, roof rats (also called black rats) outnumber Norway rats. But either rat can be found in either environment.
To the best of our knowledge, rats are the first animals that people were willing to pay other people to eradicate. Early on in history, people started recognizing an association between rats and disease, long before this connection was understood and proven by science. The observation that disease increased when rat populations were high inspired some enterprising people to get into the business of "rat catching." Those early "rat catchers" were the first professional exterminators.
It's fitting that rats had the dubious distinction of being the first animals recognized as serious enough pests that people were willing to pay to get rid of them. Rats have been associated with disease since Biblical times, but modern science has confirmed their involvement in the transmission of serious diseases like bubonic plague, hantavirus, hemorrhagic fever, rat-bite fever, salmonella, and many others. That gives rats the dubious honor of being the most notorious disease vectors in human history.
The first rat catchers controlled rats pretty much the same way Rid-A-Critter does: They trapped them, removed them, and then sealed them out. That's still the best way to permanently control rats, and it's the way Rid-A-Critter does it to this day. Sometimes it's good to be old-fashioned.
In the early 20th Century, however, the trend in rat control started to move away from trapping and exclusion and toward the use of chemical rat poisons, known as rodenticides. This actually was and remains a good thing for public health rat control in big cities because it makes wide-area rat extermination both practical and economical. This is still the case today: There are times, places, and situations in which the use of rat poisons is the best way to go, especially in wide-area public health rat abatement projects such as sewer baiting.
In homes and other buildings, however, poisons are not the best way to kill rats. Rat extermination in homes should be performed the old-fashioned way, without chemical poisons, for several very good reasons:
Rodenticides are poisons. Okay, so this is obvious. What's not so obvious, however, is that rat poisons are not specific to rats. They'll kill any mammal (as well as some other animals, like birds) that happen to eat them. This sometimes includes animals that are secondarily poisoned because they ate a poisoned rat. For example, a hawk that eats a poisoned rat may also be poisoned.
Poisoned rats don't "go outside to seek water." Don't believe that. Seriously. It's hogwash. Poisoned rats usually die where they live, and if where they live happens to be in your home, then that's probably where they're going to die -- and where they're going to rot away and stink. In fact, we get a lot of calls from customers who want to hire us specifically to find and remove dead rats (and other animals) that were killed by the poisons that other less-enlightened rat exterminators tossed around in people's houses.
Non-chemical rat control is more permanent. It's also less costly in the long run. Here's why.
When your exterminator uses poisons to kill rats, the poison has to be replaced from time to time (usually monthly) because the rats eat it, because it's eaten by insects (who don't die when they eat it, by the way), or because it gets moldy and unappealing to rats. These monthly visits are good for your exterminator because they gives him steady work. For you, on the other hand, not so much, because you're the one paying him.
Our non-chemical rat control seals rats out of a house so they can't get back in. There's no poison to replace, and therefore no monthly visits to replace it. There's also no chance of a rat dying inside your wall, nor of a pet or other non-target animal being accidentally poisoned.
Sometimes rat poisons are helpful or necessary, especially outdoors; but rarely if ever inside a house.
As mentioned earlier, rat poisons are a good way for communities to rapidly reduce rat populations over a broad outdoor area, especially in cities. Exterminators have been baiting sewers for rats for generations. Rodenticides in tamper-resistant bait stations are also required outside certain types of buildings, such as food-processing plants or warehouses, to comply with health codes or industry standards. Rodenticides can also be handy when used directly in rat burrows outside a home or business if the outdoor rat population is very high.
It's rare, however, that rat poisons are appropriate inside a building. For an occupied building, rat poisons are almost never the right way to eliminate a rat problem.
Rat Control Gallery
Here are some pictures we've taken at the rat-removal jobs that we've done.
How rats got into a house in Greensboro
Rat droppings at a seriously-infested house
Roof rats destroyed a child's school project
Rat entry under the steps into an Athens home
Rat entry point into a house in Hoschton
Rat burrow into a house in Athens
Rat prints in a crawl space
Roof rat air mattress?
Example of stone-age rat-proofing technology
Fire risk from rodents gnawing on electrical wire
Roof rat in an attic vent
Roof rat entry hole into a house in Athens
Rat hole in the siding of a cabin in Athens
Norway rat opening into a house in Braselton
Installing rat-proof crawl space vents
Rat hole in the foundation of a house in Athens
Rat rub marks found at an attic rat control job
Rat damage to a PVC pipe in an attic
Evidence of rats in a house in Athens
Rats gnawed an extension cord in Athens
Rats like kisses, too!
How Norway rats got into a house in Athens
Rat smudge marks by cable lines
Handyman rat-proofing fail in Watkinsville
Rat problem at a winter seasonal home in Athens
Inside view of a rat entry gap
Roof rat damage in a house in Athens
Roof rat damage to a house in Athens
Rat gnawing damage to wired in an attic
Rat entry gap around A/C pipe in Greensboro
Rat rub marks on foundation vent in Bogart
Josh sealing rats out of a house in Athens
Please contact us for more information about our long-lasting, exclusion-based rat-removal programs. We look forward to hearing from you.