If you’ve had encounters with rats, in your home or outside, you may have noticed their unique habits, some of which seem pretty gross. Here are five facts about rats that are equal parts gross and true.
1. Rats can have thousands of children
There have been reports of a female and male rat mating 100 times in one night, according to Rat Breeding Guide, and a female can mate up to 500 times with different males while in heat.
Because a female rat goes into heat about 15 times in a year, “a pair of brown rats can produce as many as 2,000 descendants in a year if left to breed unchecked,” according to Discover Magazine.
2. Mothers may eat their babies
Giving birth is taxing, and a poor diet may mean a mother rat needs nutrients. That stress and malnutrition can lead her to do what humans would consider unthinkable.
“If the mother is stressed, either because of pain from a long difficult birth, or from environmental disturbances such as unusual loud noises, etc., she may kill and eat some healthy babies,” according to Pet Education.
They’re not the only animals who do it, but they’re one of the few who could be in your house at the time.
3. Rat poop is large and infectious
Rat droppings are double to triple the size of mouse droppings, reaching 1/2- to 3/4-inch lengths. Rats also excrete 40-50 droppings per day and even eat them for nutrients. Unfortunately, people don’t get the same nutritional benefit.
“Both rat and mouse droppings can harbor a wide variety of diseases, and the threat is worsened by how these little visitors love to invade food storage and leave lots of droppings everywhere they go,” according to Hunker. “... As the droppings dry out, they disintegrate, meaning that tiny fragments are released into the air.”
When you come into contact with rats and their feces, you could be exposed to diseases such as hantavirus, leptospirosis, rat-bite fever and salmonellosis.
4. Rats will chew pretty much anything
In case it’s not clear, rats are not picky eaters. In addition to newborns and their feces, they eat a number of food and nonfood items. Unsurprisingly, they eat fruits, vegetables, grains, seeds and nuts, along with the occasional bug or small animal. Urban rats go further, though, foraging through garbage and landfills.
“Wild rats are opportunist omnivorous eaters,” according to animals.mom.me. “That means they will eat whatever they can find.”
Because rats are unable to vomit, if a rat becomes ill, it will eat a nonfood, like clay, to dilute toxins. Additionally, rat teeth grow so quickly that they constantly chew to wear them down, which is why you’ll find teeth marks on furniture and building materials.
5. Rats can come in your house through a toilet
Rats are experts at getting through narrow spaces, which is why you may find them in your attic or basement. One of the more surprising places to find them, though, is in a toilet. Rats can hold their breath for several minutes and tread water for days, making the journey from the sewer possible.
Due in part to the their fondness for underground pipes, sewer rats can find their way into pipes that lead up into toilets on occasion. The unique U-bend pipe of a toilet creates a tiny pocket of air that allows a rat to catch its breath and make its way through the final section of piping.
If you have a rat problem, call Paratex Pest Control for a free consultation with a pest expert. Paratex’s experienced technicians can help you get rid of the rats inside your home and seal it off against more intruders. Visit paratex.com to learn more.