Rats are one of the most adaptable species in the world, with the ability to climb, jump or swim, and eat almost anything.Like all rodents, a rat's teeth constantly grow, so they need to gnaw incessantly to help keep their teeth manageable. They will bite in defense.

Whether dead or alive, rats can carry or transmit serious disease to people, pets and livestock through biting, physical contact or contamination. Rats may also bring ticks or fleas and ticks into a home or business. They also can serious structural damage and property damage. They can chew through walls and electrical wiring, which could potentially cause electrical fires. Rats are challenging to get rid of because they breed quickly and are nocturnal. Often by the time you find a rat in your home or business, a rat infestation has already become serious.

The most common types of rats in Ontario are the norway rat and roof rat.

Norway rats are big rodents, reaching up to 40 cm in length and weighing up to 1 pound. They have shaggy brown or gray fur and very long tails. Their ears and tails are covered with scales. Norway rats favour damp areas, crawl spaces or building perimeters and they build elaborate tunnel systems burrows at ground level.

Root rats are smaller than norway rats, but can grow to over 40 cm long. A root rat has smooth, glossy black or brown fur, large eyes and ears ,and a pointed nose. Their tail is scaly, hairless and longer than the combined length of their head and body. Roof rats are strong climbers, commonly nesting in high places like trees, attics, rafters, roofs and upper stories of buildings. 

Rats invade homs and buildings in search of food, shelter, and water. If they can gain entry to a structure that offers these, they will inhabit and infest. Rats can squeeze through holes the size of a quarter.

The most common signs that you have a rat infestation include:

  • Hearing scratching sounds and movement in the walls at night.
  • Signs of gnawing or chewing on food, cardboard packaging or wiring.
  • Finding their nests or nests.
  • Discovering burrows directly outside your home or business.
  • Sighting dead or alive rats.
  • Finding rat droppings.

The best way to get rid of rats is to prevent them from getting inside and making your home or business less appealing to them: 

  • Seal up cracks and crevices around your windows, doors, eaves, chimney, and any other entry points.
  • Use metal weather stripping under doors.
  • Weather strip windows and ensure screens are in good repair.
  • Cover dryer vents, attic vents or soffits with fine mesh metal screening.
  • Keep your roof and any vents in good repair.
  • Keep your grass cut short and trim trees, shrubs and bushes away from your home or building.
  • Regularly dispose of yard waste.
  • Keep woodpiles away from your home or building and raise 1 foot off the ground.
  • Repair water leaks inside and outdoors.
  • Use garbage bins with tight-fitting lids, and store away from entry points.
  • Don't leave food out in the open.
  • Keep your kitchen and food prep areas clean and sanitized.
  • Empty indoor garbage, recycling and compost bins regularly and clean in between use.
  • Store all dry food items and dry pet food in metal or glass containers.
  • Store non-perishable items in airtight, secured plastic bins.
  • Discard old cardboard boxes.

If you have a rat infestation, there is no fast way for getting rid of rats.

To get rid of rats, hire an experienced licensed pest control professional to implement a rodent bait program and complete a thorough exterior inspection to identify where the rats are gaining access to your home or business. This walk around will help you further improve your current and future pest proofing efforts and keep rodents outside.