There are many species of rats, but the two species that most often become pests in the Metro Atlanta Area and throughout Georgia are the roof rat (Rattus rattus), and the Norway or brown rat (Rattus norvegicus). Although both rat species are found in both urban and rural areas throughout Georgia, roof rats are more common in rural areas, and Norway rats are more common in urban areas such as Atlanta and Marietta.
Rats have the dubious distinction of having been the first pest animals believed to carry disease. Historical evidence suggests that rats have been associated with disease even before biblical times, and practically all epidemiologists believe that they were obligatory disease reservoirs in all of history's great plague epidemics. Specifically, rats are reservoirs for Yersinia pestis, the bacterium that causes plague. The fleas that feed on the rats then vector the disease to humans.
The rat's unique and dubious place in the history of disease also gave birth to the profession of pest control. The first exterminators were called "rat catchers," and they did their job pretty much the same way Rid-A-Critter does today: without chemicals, and with an emphasis on sealing rats out of buildings permanently. Every house has vulnerabilities, even brick homes, as this post shows. We find those vulnerabilities using time-honored methods like looking for droppings and following rub marks, and we fix the problems to keep the rats out.
Chemical rodenticides were a later invention, and certainly they have their place. For example, many wide-area rat problems have been solved (or at least reduced) through the judicious use of rodenticides in sewage systems, utility chases, wharfs and docks, and other similar places. For wide-area public-health rat abatement programs, rodenticides are an invaluable tool.
But for most residential and commercial structural rat control situations, rat poisons are the lazy way out.
Actually, there are quite a few problems with the chemical rodenticide approach to rat extermination; and when you consider them together, we think you'll agree that Rid-A-Critter's safe, non-chemical approach is the best way to solve structural rat problems. Let's look at some of the disadvantages of chemical rat control.
Rodenticides are poisons. Although this may seem redundant, the fact is that any poison we put into the environment has the potential to harm non-target animals, or even people. In the case of rat poisons, this actually is more common than most people realize. Many rodenticides are secondarily toxic, which means that an animal that eats a poisoned rat can be poisoned, as well.
Poisoned rats die at home. Don't believe the nonsense that poisoned rats go outside to seek water. Most rodenticides take several days to work, during which the rat begins to feel progressively sicker; and just like us, when rats start to feel sick, they go home. If the rat's "home" happens to be your house, then that's where they're going to die. And stink.
In fact, we do a lot of work that consists of finding and removing dead animals that were killed by the poisons that other "rat exterminators" left behind. It's not the most pleasant work that we do. Moreover, it would have been entirely unnecessary had the job been done properly -- trap and remove the rats, and then seal up the house -- rather than just tossing some poison around
Non-chemical rat control is cheaper in the long run. When you pay an exterminator to control your rat problem using rodenticides, you make a friend for life: the exterminator. That's because the poisons exterminators use don't last forever. Rodenticides used inside or outside get eaten by rats and need to be replaced. They also get eaten by insects such as beetles, weevils, and moths, but the insects don't die. Rodenticides are harmless to insects. Even wax-encapsulated, "weather-resistant" rodenticides often get infested by insects or rot away because of mold.
As a result, rat control that relies on poisons, and neglects the more important work of exclusion, requires that the exterminator visit you -- and bill you -- again, and again, and again to check and refill the bait stations. That starts getting expensive after a while.
Yes, sometimes they are, especially outside.
For example, exterior use of rodenticides might make sense in cases of large outside populations of Norway (or "brown") burrowing in the ground outside your house or building, or when used as a part of wide-area public health rat abatement programs. Also, some types of commercial buildings may be required by law or by the sanitation standards of their industries to have exterior rodent bait stations installed around the perimeters of their buildings.
So yes, there are some cases when the use of rodenticides makes good sense; and when it makes sense, we use them. But most of the time they're neither necessary nor desirable. Non-chemical rat removal and exclusion is usually a much better way to go.
Please contact us for more information about our long-lasting, exclusion-based rat-removal programs.
Rat Control Gallery
Here are some pictures we've taken at the many rat-removal and rat-proofing jobs we've done throughout Greater Atlanta Metropolitan Area.
Roof rat damage to a house in Atlanta
Rat rub marks and urine stains in an Atlanta attic
Rat hole under the deck of a house in Marietta
Rat gnaw marks on gutter and shingles in Conyers
Failed DIY rat-proofing attempt in Doraville
Rat droppings and urine in an attic in Conyers
Rat damage to an air-conditioning duct in Atlanta
Rats got into an Atlanta home through this gap
Rat humanely removed from an Atlanta home
Rat droppings by items stored in an Atlanta attic
Rat entry found at Duluth, Georgia rat removal job
No mystery how rats got into this Atlanta home
Rat gnaw hole in the trim of a house in Marietta
An unusually difficult rat removal job in Atlanta
Rat rub marks found at an attic rat control job
Rat hole under a garage door at an Atlanta house
Rat gnaw hole in the roof trim of an Atlanta home
Roof rat footprints at an Atlanta rat control job
Roof rat entry hole in a house in Marietta
Roof rat entry hole into a house in Atlanta
Rat hole into a house in Clarkson, Georgia
Rat droppings in a drop ceiling in Atlanta
DIY rat-proofing attempt in Stone Mountain
Rats entry hole into a house in Lithia Springs
Norway rat burrow in Sandy Springs
Rat droppings in a closet in a McDonough home
Rat damage to insulation in Sandy Springs
Rat burrows in the insulation in a Smyrna attic