The rat originated in Central and Southeast Asia, but has spread from there to every corner of the Earth. They live everywhere people do. It is estimated that rats destroy one-fifth of the food produced every year. They spread disease, and, because of their constant gnawing, they cause damage to homes and businesses. They are often responsible for electrical fires. Rats have a territory of anywhere from 100 to 300 feet, which they expore daily. They tend to follow the same paths, or runs, over and over again.
The two main types of rats that cause problems are the Roof rat (Rattus rattus) and the Norway rat (Rattus norvegicus), also called the sewer, wharf, or brown rat. In Kansas City, the Norway Rat is the main problem. Norway rats weigh about 10-17 ounces, have a body between 7-10 inches long and a tail between 6-8.5 inches.
Some common signs that you have a rat problem:
- Blunt, cylindrical droppings about 3/4 of an inch long
- Sounds (scratching, scraping)
- Shiny, oily, and or dirty pathways next to walls, gnawed openings, and pipes
- Dogs or cats becoming unexpectedly agitated
Rats have been known to carry and spread the following diseases:
Rats need three things to survive, and will be a problem until these three things are no longer available: food, water, and shelter. If you have a rat problem, take the following steps to get rid of the rats; if your neighbor has a rat problem, taking the following steps can keep their rat problem from becoming your
- Food (anything rats might consider food):
- Keep food in galvanized metal containers
- Keep trash and garbage cans in tightly covered metal containers
- Pick up garbage and trash in yards immediately
- Remove pet food after the pet has finished eating, and pick up pet droppings
- Clean spilled seed from under bird feeders
- Wipe any spilled food off the clothing and faces of babies and bedridden adults
- NEVER leave a bottle with a baby in the crib overnight
- Repair leaking pipes
- Don't let rainwater collect in containers, window wells, etc.
- Repair broken sewer pipes leading from your home
- Clean up debris like abandoned cars, used appliances, brush piles, etc.
- Cut any high weeds, especially around house foundations
- Store lumber at least 18 inches from the ground
- Clean out basement and attics
- Seal off openings in foundations, retaining walls, and basements
- Replace all broken windows
- Use concrete or metal when rat-proofing; while rats can burrow through concrete, it is much easier for them to gnaw through wood.
Treatment and program information
The Rat Control Program has contracted with an exterminator who will perform free rat control services to people living in single-family homes or duplexes in Kansas City, Mo.. We also provide rat control in City sewers, vacant lots, vacant homes, and at City construction sites. If you have seen rats or the signs of a rat infestation in any of these areas, please contact the Rat Control program either through the Action Center's online form or by calling the Health Department directly at 816-513-6010.
The City does not perform rat control on commercial properties or apartment buildings, but can advise the owners of these properties on necessary steps to be taken. Our office hours are 8 a.m. - 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.
The Rat Control Progrma is always interested in promoting the practice of Integrated Pest Managment. The program also has some knowledge about bed bugs, their spread and control meausres. If you or your group is interested in presentations on rat control, integrated pest management or bed bugs, please contact the program at the phone number above.