Not very many people realize this, but Sun Tzu’s The Art of War is actually history’s first pest control manual. Don’t scoff at us; it’s an allegory. …Anyway, when it comes to pest control, it’s like the master says: “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles”.
We’ve taught you how to know yourself before. You know your home. You know where pests might get in and how to best shore up your defenses against them. But as Sun Tzu also says, “If you only know yourself, but not your opponent, you may win or may lose.” Knowing yourself is only half the battle. Now you must know your enemy. And make no mistake: this winter, your enemy is the rat. Here is what your fiendish, furry foe wants, and how you can deprive them of it.
Rat’s olfactory (smell) senses can differentiate between over 2000 different odorants. Their brains analyze these odorants and use them to understand complex information about the rat’s surroundings. Rats can literally “smell” things like the social hierarchy of other rats based on the sequence, intensity, and combination of odorants they detect.
Rats can’t just smell your food; they can smell specific information about it. In fact, they likely know more about it than you do! Unfortunately, it’s difficult to totally prevent rats from smelling your food. What you can do, however, is send them information they won’t like. Keep your non-refrigerable food sealed in airtight containers. Vacuum, wipe up, and/or mop after meals. Dispose of garbage quickly and thoroughly. Show rats that they won’t be able to get at the good stuff easily, and they’ll try their luck somewhere else.
Little rodents like mice and rats don’t need much water to get by. A plumbing leak here or there, a little humidity, or a basement puddle suits them just fine. Rats are particularly attracted to moisture that’s near areas where they can get the other things they need. That means they look for water in dark, cramped areas where they can drink at their leisure. If they can grab snacks nearby, so much the better.
Rats find water the same way they find food: using their keen senses. In addition to their amazing sense of smell, rats are also highly sensitive to tactile and temperature changes. These senses make them excellent at locating the drafts and humidity associated with nearby moisture. Patch up plumbing leaks as soon as you find them, especially if they’re in your basement or attic. Control the humidity in each room of your home to keep condensation or puddles from forming and attracting rats.
Winter is kind of a conundrum for rats. They can’t hibernate like some rodents can. They’re not about to fly south and they can’t even (really) fatten up! To survive the cold of winter, rats have to get creative. Unfortunately, that may mean finding creative ways into your home. Once inside, rats can continue to eat and reproduce all winter long. They may decide they like the digs enough to stay next year, too!
Rat “season” in the Midwest starts as soon as the temperatures begin dropping below summer highs. Rats sense the change and start getting serious about finding a place to wait out the winter. First, they’ll look for a place that’s warm, dark, quiet, and stuffed with food and water. If any part of your home matches this description, it’s the perfect winter getaway for a cold rat. Keep rats from flocking to the heat of your home by sealing access points, updating insulation, and preventing drafts.
Rats love living together and building big old family nests, but they’re not so fond of humans bugging them while they do it. Rats are shy creatures by necessity. It makes sense: most people want them dead! The best way for a rat to live to see (or smell) another day is to play keep away.
Why does it matter that rats are scaredy… rats? Because it means they look for places where they won’t be bothered. Rats don’t just love basements because they’re dark, warm, and humid. They’re also usually quiet. The rascally rodent wants nothing more than to go about its business undetected. They’re attracted to places where they can hide, creep around, and generally go stealth mode. Patrol lights, a pet, or simple frequent cleaning can really help turn a possible rat hotspot into a no-crawl zone.
There’s a reason why pest control companies like Plunkett’s have been fighting rats for hundreds of years. Our rodential rivals are truly worthy adversaries. For all your foe’s tenaciousness and desperate ingenuity, however, you have something they don’t. Us.
Next time you see a certain scurrying scoundrel slinking around your home, give Plunkett’s a call ASAP. We’ll figure out how they got in, wipe out the infestation, and make sure it never happens again. It’s like Sun Tzu said, “when it comes to rat control, the pros at Plunkett’s are the best in the biz!” Ok. Sun Tzu probably never said that. But it’s true.BACK TO BLOG