Rats are among the first animals recognized as pests and suspected of carrying diseases. They also were the reason the pest and animal control industry came into being. The first exterminators were known as "rat catchers" and made their livings doing just that, and very little else. It was only later on that control of insects and other animals besides rats became part of a pest control operator's job description.
There were good reasons why people hated rats enough to support an entire industry devoted to eradicating them. Aside from eating and contaminating seeds intended for planting, feed intended for livestock, and stored foods intended for human consumption, good scholarship suggests that humans were aware that rats were somehow associated with disease transmission as early as 1350 B.C.
Scientific proof of the connection between rats and the transmission of bubonic plague would have to wait until 1894, when Alexandre Yersin discovered the bacterium that causes plague, which is now called Yersinia pestis in his honor. He and other scientists also identified the transmission cycle of plague, which involves rats acting as reservoirs for the bacteria, and fleas transmitting it to humans and other animals.
Rats are still one of the most important public health pests and are known to transmit many diseases. Their health risks, as well as the damage they cause (including gnawing on wiring, which can cause fires), are why you definitely don't want rats in or around your home or commercial building.
Tennessee and all of the Southeastern United States have the dubious honor of having not one, but two species of rats to contend with: roof rats (Rattus rattus), and Norway or brown rats (Rattus norvegicus). Both of these rat species are notorious disease vectors, but their habits and biology are somewhat different. Either specie can be found anywhere, but Norway rats are more common in urban areas, and roof rats in rural areas. The two species are never found infesting the same area, but occasionally may infest different parts of the same building.
Roof rats are smaller and more slender than Norway rats. They have big ears, pointy noses, and tails that are longer than their heads and bodies combined. In nature, they live in trees (which is why they're sometimes called "tree rats"), and they are blessed with excellent agility, balance, and climbing ability.
As one would expect, roof rats are almost always found in attics, lofts, elevator motor rooms, church steeples and bell towers, on top of drop ceilings in commercial buildings, and in other upper areas of buildings. Their habits are much more similar to those of grey squirrels than those of their closer cousins the Norway rats. They have an exquisite sense of balance and often run along utility wires to get into homes and buildings.
Norway rats are bigger and heavier than roof rats. They have blunt noses, small ears, and tails that are shorter than the combined length of their heads plus their bodies. They are burrowing rodents by nature and their front paws are adapted to digging, which they do quite well. They're also excellent swimmers. Their balance and climbing abilities, however, are not as good as those of roof rats.
In nature, Norway rats live in burrows in the soil. When they get into homes and other buildings, they're usually found in basements, crawl spaces, under sheds, and in other areas closer to the ground floor. They are capable of traveling inside walls, however, and may move to the upper parts of buildings if that's where the food is or if they are forced to move due to population pressures.
Rid-A-Critter is one of the few Metro Chattanooga rat-extermination companies that practices safe, non-toxic rat control. We never use rodenticides (rat poisons) inside buildings, and we only use them outside when they are required by law or industry standards. (For example, some food-processing facilities are required to have exterior rodent bait stations installed around them.)
We firmly believe that non-chemical rat control and rat-proofing is the only correct way to take care of a rat problem in a building, for the following reasons:
Our safe, non-chemical, exclusion-based approach to rat control relies on trapping rather than poisons, followed by sealing up your home and building so rats can't get in. It's the safer, more environmentally-responsible, and more-permanent solution to a rat problem.
Here are some randomly-selected pictures of rat-control work we've done in Metro Chattanooga, Tennessee and elsewhere.
Yes, rats do swim up into toilets
Rats chewed their way in through the dryer vent
Technician using fiber-optic scope to find rats
DIY roof rat-proofing fail in East Ridge
Roof rat air mattress?
How rats got into a garage in Harrison
Rat hole into a house in Chattanooga
Rat urine and grease stains accumlated on a pipe
Fire risk from rodents gnawing on electrical wire
Rat droppings in a basement in East Brainerd
Roof rats destroyed a child's school project
Fred Flintstone rat-proofing in Chattanooga
Rat damage to a crawl space liner
Rat entry into a building in Chattanooga
Typical roof rat entry gap in Chattanooga
Roof rat rub marks in an attic in Chattanooga
Roof rat entry gap in Collegedale
Norway rat entry gap in Collegedale
How rats got into a brick house in Stone Mountain
Roof rat entry gap in Red Bank
Roof rat entry gap in Soddy-Daisy
Roof rat entry gap into an attic in Soddy-Daisy
Inside view of a rat entry gap
Norway rat hole in a house in Red Bank
Rats were stashing dog food in the crawl space
Rat burrow in a dirt crawl space
Roof rat chew hole into a house in Chattanooga
Installing rat-proof crawl space vents
Roof rat in an attic vent
Rat droppings behind a piano in Chattanooga
Evidence of rats in an attic
How rats got into a house in Middle Valley
Please contact us to learn more about our raccoon-removal services in the Chattanooga, Tennessee metropolitan area. We look forward to hearing from you.