What It Takes To Get Rid Of A Rat Infestation On Your Houston Property
Rat peeking through the rafters.

What It Takes To Get Rid Of A Rat Infestation On Your Houston Property

After a long day at work, you want to come home and relax for the rest of the day. After enjoying a movie or sitting on the back porch, you retire to bed in anticipation of rejuvenating sleep. But then it happens: the sound of scratching; you sit up in bed, listening intently and wondering about the sound. 

As the noise continues, you slowly move around and try to discover the location of the faint sounds. Your mind races with questions like what is in the house, and is someone breaking in? As you move gingerly through the house, the sound stops. Eventually, tiredness overwhelms you, and you return to bed.

In the morning, you reflect on the event and wonder if there are rats in your Houston home. What are the signs of a rat infestation? How do you know the problem isn't from wildlife? In this article, we will go in-depth and provide you with the knowledge you need to determine if what you heard was from rats in your Houston home. If you believe you have a rat infestation, you need to secure the Houston pest control team from Modern Pest Control. With over 70 years of knowledge and experience, we know how to eradicate rats from your Houston home. 

How To Tell If It's Rats Lurking Around Your Property

Believe it or not, our metropolitan city has wildlife like raccoons, opossums, skunks, coyotes, bats, and foxes; we also have rodents like squirrels, porcupines, hamsters, mice, and rats. The main difference between rodents and wildlife is teeth: the incisors of rodents never stop growing, so they constantly gnaw on items, whereas wildlife does not need to chew to keep their teeth trim.

Chew marks on concrete, thin plastics, wood, aluminum siding, paneling, and wiring around the house are signs of rats. Since rats and mice will chew on almost anything, gnaw marks alone cannot positively identify rats as the problem pest, but at least it eliminates wildlife.

With wildlife eliminated, we need to determine if the rodents are mice, rats, or squirrels, which are the common rodents in Houston homes. The location of the gnaw marks can help us narrow down the rodent option. Squirrels do not like to stay in the house for long periods, but when they enter to escape colder weather, they typically enter through attic vents and stay in the attic. Gnaw marks in the basement or lower living areas of the house are unlikely from squirrels and more likely from rats or mice. 

If you have narrowed down the pest from wildlife and squirrels, the following signs will help determine if you have swarms of rats in your Houston home.


Rats can consume up to one-third of their body weight in food resulting in a large output of feces. Rats prefer meat, grains, and livestock feed but eat anything. They eat disgusting things like dog feces and rotten food, weird items like fur, soap, and leather, as well as people's food like eggs, milk, candy, and fruit. Rats will eat until they are full of food.

Rats and mice leave by-products behind as they travel throughout the house, but their defecations do not all look the same. In addition, there are two types of rats common in Houston, and their feces are not the same! The oval feces of rats are brown and measure about 1/2 to 3/4 inch in length depending on the rat species; in contrast, fresh mice droppings are rod-shaped, black, and about 3/16-1/4 inch long — about the size of a grain of rice.

Of the two rat species in Houston homes, Norway rats produce the droppings at 3/4 inch in length with blunt ends, and roof rats produce smaller oval droppings with pointed ends. So, if the droppings are rod-shaped, you may have mice, but if they are oval and more than 1/4-inch in length, you have rats. Narrowing it down further, if the ends are blunt, you may have Norway rats, but if they have pointed ends, you likely have roof rats in your home.

Because a rat eats so much, it will produce up to 25,000 black pellets of fecal matter annually! The location of the droppings can help Houston homeowners determine if they have an invasion of Norway rats or roof rats. Because Norway rats live at ground level, they will deposit their oval feces pellets with blunt ends along baseboards and other large structures on the floor as they travel their runways. Roof rats will leave their oval pellets with pointed ends in rafters and other locations above the floor as they follow their routes between food and water sources and their nests.


Another way to identify rats in your home is through runways. When a rodent like a mouse or a rat finds food and water sources, it will retrace its steps from the locations to its burrow and eventually create paths. The trails are usually parallel to structures like steps, baseboards, pipes along the wall, and large objects on the floor. A rat runway may be as far as 100 feet from its burrow, but mice usually stay within 30 feet of their nest.

Another sign of a rat infestation is runways outside the house. Rats create two-to-three inch wide runways along fences, decks, foundation walls, and other vertical structures. Signs that the runways are in use inside your home are the absence of cobwebs, soft, dark feces, and smear marks that will smudge. Current runways outside are clear of vegetation and debris and have compact and smooth soil. Cobwebs, grey feces, vegetation growth, and dry, brittle smug marks indicate the runway is no longer traveled.

Hoarded food:

Rats are greedy and will not only consume food until they can no longer eat, but they are hoarders. Rats will carry food back to their nests for later use and will often drop food along the runways.'


A putrid aroma in a poorly ventilated room indicates a rat infestation. Rats consume a lot of food resulting in massive amounts of feces, and along with their food consumption, they need at least an ounce of water each day. All the water they consume creates urine which they release as they travel throughout Houston homes. If there is an odor in a room, a black light will illuminate urine stains along the runways. If you smell urine, you likely have an army of rats in the house.


Rats have four toes on their front feet and five on their hind feet. Rats leave tracks in dust, dirt, and mud as they travel along indoor and outdoor runways. If you suspect active rat runways in your Houston home, sprinkle unscented talcum powder on the floor to see if they are using the runway.

Nests and burrows:

Rats and mice shelter in burrows and nests. Burrows are holes or tunnels outside the house under debris, buildings, wood piles, and concrete slabs. Nests are shelters located in garages, attics, and utility closets. Within those areas, rats create homes inside of walls, cardboard boxes, under eaves, loose roofing tiles, and insulation. Both rats and mice build nests and burrows, but the nests differ in appearance. Rats and mice use cloth, shredded paper, insulation, and cardboard to create a nest; a rat's nest looks like a ball.

Rats create nests near food and water sources. Once rats have a safe place for future generations, they begin reproducing. Under ideal circumstances, two rats can produce thousands of offspring annually!

Rats invade homes in groups and quickly reproduce. If you see these indicators in your Houston home, rat control is needed because there are likely many rats in your house.

Rats Cause Property Damage And Spread Diseases

Rats are filthy creatures because they enjoy eating animal feces and living in putrid, disease-ridden areas like sewers. If there are signs of rats on your Houston property, the damage will follow in these ways:


Diseases rats carry are leptospirosis, rat-bite fever, tularemia, and salmonellosis. Bacteria, viruses, and parasitic worms latch onto their fur while rats travel over rotting food, sewage, and other unsanitary areas. As they move through your Houston home, the pathogens fall off and contaminate eating, cooking, and food storage areas. 

Rats contract diseases from flea and tick bites and spread disease-causing organisms when they deposit urine and feces on surfaces. The saliva they leave from gnawing on food products, containers, and other items also distribute pathogens. Their saliva transmits infectious diseases when they bite. Rats are known to sneak into cribs and bite unsuspecting babies with clothing soiled with food. 

Rats bring hitchhikers like fleas and ticks into your Houston house. These insects spread diseases to animals and humans, such as Lyme disease, Heartland virus, and Rocky Mountain spotted fever.


Like all rodents, rats gnaw to keep their incisor teeth from growing too much. They often nest in walls and create fire hazards from chewing on the insulation around electrical wiring. Other than glass and thick metals, rats chew on anything and will destroy storage boxes, food, upholstery, aluminum siding, and even appliances. 

The Most Effective Way To Get Rid Of Rats On Your Property

Everyone wants to save money, so many homeowners resort to DIY methods to get rid of rats in the house. While using traps, baits, and even cats produce some immediate results, they will not stop an infestation and may be unsafe. Traps kill a few rodents but do not stop rats in the nest from reproducing; baits may kill the offspring, but they can be toxic to pets and children and be ineffective if not properly located. Although cats may catch a few mice, there is the risk of the cat contracting a disease, plus they cannot access many nesting locations.

The best way to get rid of Houston rats in the house is to use our professionals from Modern Pest Control. When you schedule us for your free inspection, our trained pest control experts will examine the interior and exterior of your Houston home for indications of rats. We will focus on entry points and potential nesting areas to determine the severity of the infestation. We will develop a custom eradication plan using Integrated Pest Management (IPM) strategies to ensure the most humane and effective methods possible.

We will present you with our findings, and if you choose to continue, we will implement our strategy using devices targeting the rat population in your Houston home. We will remove the trapped rats, ensure all rats are excluded from the premises and seal entry points using strong metal screens to prevent future rat infestations. The team at Modern Pest Control will provide you with the best rodent control in Houston.

Five Tips To Prevent Future Rat Infestations On Your Property

Once the experts from Modern Pest Control eradicate rats from your Houston home, implement these five tips to prevent a future rat invasion: 

  1. Keep outdoor garbage cans closed at all times. If garbage cans are in the garage, secure them with tight lids. Do not leave garbage bags in the garage. 

  2. Provide proper drainage to puddles, gutters, and ditches. Reducing standing water discourages rats from burrowing on your property. 

  3. Remove clutter from the yard, like leaf and wood piles, old tires, and large rocks. 

  4. Seal all cracks with caulk and larger holes with steel wool, screen, or concrete.

  5. Replace cardboard storage boxes in the garage and attic with sealable plastic totes.

Maintaining a clean, sanitary lawn and home, along with the help of Modern Pest Control, will keep rats from infesting your Houston home. Contact us today for rodent control that includes inspection, trapping, and exclusion. There is no company better at rodent trapping and exclusion in the Houston area than our pest control technicians. Call us today to learn more about our residential and commercial pest control services in Houston, and to schedule your free inspection.

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