Rats are the most destructive pests known to man. Rats are also the known source of numerous diseases which can afflict humans and domestic animals. Rats will contaminate food and will cause extensive damage to buildings and equipment in homes, warehouses, granaries, restaurants and bakeries, anywhere food is handled or stored.
Rats can gnaw through wood and will enlarge masonry openings to gain entrance into buildings. In order to construct their nests, rats will destroy all types of materials and can cause fires by chewing through insulation and electrical wires. Reports of infestations of rats seems to be on the increase.
Rats pose a serious hazard to health. As well as contaminating food with their droppings and urine fleas from rats were responsible for spreading the bubonic plague. Today diseases such as salmonella and typhus are commonly spread by rats. Because of their unsanitary habits, secondary infections from rat bites can be serious and sometimes fatal, an infestation of rats should be treated immediately.
Rats can survive outdoors during the winter under certain conditions, however activity and indoor migration increases as the weather gets cooler and outdoor food and water sources decrease. Rats are most active during the evening and continue to be active until the middle of the night. If they are looking for food and water, or in the case of large infestations, rats will also become active during daylight hours.
The average life expectancy of a rat is 18 months. The young are born about 22 days after mating and mature rapidly. Single females may have up to 6 litters per year, averaging 6 to 14 young in each litter. By 3 months of age, the young are capable of reproduction and so if not controlled, an infestation of rats will rapidly increase.