Signs You May Have Rats

What are some signs that you may have a rat problem?


There are two distinct reasons that rats can be attracted to your home or business. One is that they look for places of protection from the elements and predators for both themselves and their young. Rats can have babies year round so there is always a need when it comes to tunneling burrows for the sake of nesting. The other, and probably more important, is that they are always on the hunt for food and water sources. Rats are omnivorous which means that they like to eat grains, fruits, vegetables, seeds and nuts. But they will eat just about anything if it’s available to them.

Another thing to consider is that they are nocturnal creatures. This is often times why it’s hard to tell if you have rats because unless they are overly populated within a certain area, it’s rare that you’ll see them. However, rats do leave behind signs when they are present within a home or building. These are some signs that you may have rats.

Rat Droppings

Fresh, dark, pellet shaped droppings usually within a concentrated area are a tell tale sign of rats. Droppings that are greyish and dry are more likely a sign that rats were in the area but still give warrant to checking into the possibility further. Often droppings are found near food sources or nesting grounds. Places such as cupboards, drawers, under sinks, near packaging or along runways are common places rat droppings are found.

Noises in Wall or Roof

Hearing scratching noises at night from the roof or in the walls may suggest the presence of rats. You may hear them scurrying under decking, sheds and floorboards. Grinding noises which rats make with their teeth known as bruxing is also a common sign of a rat infestation.

Gnaw marks

Rats teeth are constantly growing, so to keep their teeth from overgrowth they gnaw on anything along their path. From wood, to concrete, to wiring; rats are always chewing on something. Another reason they do this is in search for food. Because rats follow along already trodden pathways, gnaw marks are an indicator that not only may you have rats, but where they are traveling in the night time hours. One way to tell if the gnaw marks are current is to look at the coloring. Fresh gnaw marks will be lighter in color where older gnaw marks, like in wood, will have a darker and more aged appearance.


Rats make their nests out of anything they can make use of. Things such as paper, fabric, insulation and even plant based materials are common nesting supplies for rats. If you have these types of items in storage and see any of the above signs around them, it’s a good indicator that you may have rats in your home or office. The nests themselves are usually found in warm places close to food sources but are not limited to any specific area. Places like wall cavities, lofts, garages and sheds are common areas rats are found.

Rat tracks

Rats follow the same track patterns because they don’t see well. Often along dusty floorboards or unmaintenced areas that are hidden or often overlooked, are places rats commonly travel. Smudges, footprints, droppings and urine stains are indicators rats have recently passed through the area. One way to detect if rats are active is to sprinkle powder or flour along the area and check the next morning to see if there are any fresh trail markings. Another way to get a closer look is by checking with a flashlight or blacklight where you think rats may be active. Aiming low with the light will help you to see of any activity within the area.

Tunnels and holes

Rats will take residence both inside and outside a home. They are great at digging and will often create burrows for shelter, food storage and nesting. Not only are the tunnels they dig an eye sore, they are worrisome because they provide access for other intruders to enter. Check under your homes crawl space or exterior of your home or building. Rats love to burrow and nests under decking, amongst grassy banks and overgrown vegetation, paving edges, rotted wood piles and drains.

Insulation Debris

Insulation debris around the exterior of the home is evidence of a rats presence. Rats tend to use the insulation materials from your home to make nests by ripping and removing it. Sometimes the debris from the insulation gets carried outside through cracks and holes the rats use to move in and out of the home. One common sign of this is insulation debris caught within spider webbing around the foundation. 

Think you may have a rat or mouse problem? Contact us for a free inspection anywhere in the Portland/Vancouver metro area.

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