TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Three Types of Rats in Singapore
- Rat or Mouse: What Has Infested Your Home?
- The Rat Population: Life Cycle, Reproduction & Eating Habits
- Signs of Rat Activity in Your Home & Where to Look for Them
- The Challenges in Rat Control in Singapore
- Remove Their Food Source
- Remove Their Water Supply
- Remove Their Shelter
- Will These Methods Be Enough?
Being a highly urbanised city, it looks like rats have nowhere to go but our homes.
Over the years, rat infestations in Singapore have become a major problem for residences and businesses alike. They have wreaked havoc in our properties, contaminated food, damaged business reputations, and cost millions of dollars in repair and control.
Rat Infestations in Singapore
Rodents flourish wherever resources are readily available—food, water, and shelter. Unfortunately, in urban environments like Singapore, poorly-managed establishments, waste centres, and refuse chutes easily provide sources of food for these pests and conducive conditions for them to breed and nest.
The National Environment Agency (NEA) is taking relentless actions in managing rat infestations by removing food sources and areas of harbourages, as well as penalising businesses that fail to keep their premises free of pests.
In the first half of 2016, the NEA detected some 20,000 rat burrows in the city. It is estimated that each burrow has as many as 30 rats, indicating a worsening rat problem. Sometime in 2017, the agency also took enforcement actions against businesses for failure to address a rat infestation.
The authorities are calling for community-wide efforts to keep their populations under control by establishing good housekeeping practices and engaging a pest control specialist to conduct regular pest control checks and treatment.
Part I: What Has Infested Your Home?
Rats are rodents that can be found anywhere across the world and survive in a wide range of climates and environmental conditions. They are usually found in and around homes, offices, and commercial establishments, in gardens, farms even open fields.
Three Types of Rats in Singapore
There are three primary species of rats present in Singapore: the brown rat (sewer rat), the black rat (roof rat), and the house mouse.
Brown Rat (Rattus Norvegicus) – Also called the common rat, street rat, or Norwegian rat, brown rats are highly adaptable and can be found in almost any habitat. They are omnivorous but have a particular preference for grains, seeds, and fruits.
Black Rat (Rattus Rattus) – Also called the ship rat, roof rat, or house rat, this long-tailed rodent is very similar in appearance to brown rats, but they are smaller, shorter, and have a more slender body.
House Mouse (Mus Musculus) – The smallest of the three, the house mouse is covered in short hair that is light brown to black. In the wild, they feed mainly on seeds, plants, and insects. However, in urban areas, they can easily have a diet similar to that of humans.
Rat or Mouse: What Has Infested Your Home?
While they are both rodents, there are few key differences between rats and mice. For example, rats are generally larger. They have snouts that are blunter than that of the mouse and tails that are usually longer, hairless, and scaly.
|Appearance||Small ears, large feet, and thick, hairless tail||Large ears and long, thin tail covered in hair|
|Eating Habits||15-30g of food a day||3g of food a day|
|Breeding||5-10 pups per litter, 3-6 litters a year||4-16 pups per litter, 7-8 litters per year|
|Droppings||Brown to black long droppings with blunt ends||Brown to black shorter droppings with pointed ends|
|Behaviour||Very careful and will avoid new things until they get used to them being there||Very curious and will investigate anything new|
So, why does it matter to tell the difference between rats and mice?
Your residential pest control efforts will be most successful when you know what you are dealing with because what works to control rats does not necessarily work with mice.
For example, because rats are cautious, you will have to place unset traps in their path to give them time to get used to them and set it after a while.
On the other hand, you can do just the opposite for mice. You can set traps and put them right in their path. The only reason you would not catch a mouse in the first few days is probably that the trap is in the wrong location.
The Rat Population: Life Cycle, Reproduction & Eating Habits
Rats are as pests mainly because of their ability to reproduce quickly. On average, a female rat gives birth to six litters a year, each consisting of about 5-12 pups. These pups reach sexual maturity in as little as nine weeks, meaning their numbers can easily balloon from two rats to more than a thousand in a year. Under favourable conditions, they have the potential to multiply exponentially, even as much as nearly half a billion in three years. Depending on the species, they can live for about a year or more.
All these go to show that we can easily be overwhelmed by rats if we do not do anything to disrupt their lifecycle. In addition, it is not the only reason why we should address a rat infestation—they can be quite destructive too and what is worse is that they carry parasites and diseases to both humans and animals.
Part II: Why Should You Worry About Rat Infestations?
Rats have oversized front teeth that are adapted for chewing almost anything, including glass, wood, wires, clothing, etc. Some risks include potential short circuit, fire hazards, and compromised structural integrity.
Aside from property damages, rats are also known to spread infections, including leptospirosis and hantavirus. They may also carry parasites and pests like fleas and ticks that are equally harmful on their own.
Below are some of the health risks associated with rats:
- Rat-bite fever
Murine Typhus (spread by the fleas in rats)
The best pest control specialist in Singapore knows that addressing a rat infestation involves getting rid of the fleas and ticks that may be in rats as well. Once the rat population is under control, the fleas have nowhere to go but to you and your pets, therefore it has to be a comprehensive approach.
Why Are Rats a Bigger Problem in Commercial Spaces?
In business establishments, the presence of rats may compromise food safety, pose a significant risk to public health, damage brand reputation, and worse, get you penalised for unsanitary practices. All of these can incur financial losses in addressing the infestation and marketing efforts to recover your name.
- Damage to Infrastructure – When rats enter your business premises, they can do serious damage to your infrastructure such as gnawing on electrical wires, damaging its foundation, and chewing on furniture.
- Health Risks – The health risks that rats pose are further emphasised in commercial establishments as anyone who visits or works in the premises can be exposed to these dangers to health. They may contaminate food, food packaging, and food preparation areas with their urine, droppings, and fur.
- Compromise Brand Reputation – For businesses operating in the food sensitive industry, a rat infestation can have a larger impact on their reputation. It not only can incur penalties, but can also lose you patrons, product recall or worse, result in business closure.
- Financial Losses – The cost of a damaged reputation is even higher, considering the cost to hire a pest control specialist for business, restore your name, and replace or repair damaged items. Not to mention the disruption caused by addressing the problem.
How Do Rats Get Into Your Home and Businesses?
Rats are flexible and they can easily squeeze through a hole as small as ¾ inch in diameter. Therefore, it is easy for them to enter your home even through very small openings.
- Cracks, holes, crevices in walls – Check the exterior of your home for any potential entry points. Fill them with caulk or use a waterproof sealant to block them.
- Vents – Some vents have openings that are large enough for rats to squeeze through. Consider covering them with metal screening.
- Gaps between windows/doors and frames – Inspect your doors and windows for any unnecessarily large gaps. Repair them and while at it, check your window screen for holes.
- Holes in the roof – It is also a great idea to check your roof for openings. These may attract rats in your attic.
There are as many rats in Singapore, and while we may never be able to eradicate them fully, we can keep their population under control by depriving them of food, water, and shelter. You can start by storing your food properly by keeping them in airtight containers or in the fridge, managing your waste, covering drains and vents, and sealing cracks and holes.
It also pays to understand their behaviour, things that attracts them and how they are getting into your home in the first place.
Part III: What Attracts Rats Into Your Home?
It is established that rats in and around your home are not a good thing and that you do not want them indoors. What is attracting them there in the first place? Your unsanitary practises could even be to blame.
- Warmth: Rats are warm-blooded animals that look for a warm place to nest. Often, it is your home that provides them with the warmth and comfort they are looking for.
- Food: These also include non-food items like soap, leather, wood, and fur, as long as they can gnaw them. Even your waste can provide them sustenance, explaining why they are attracted to your bins too.
- Pet Waste & Compost: Your dog’s waste and the pile of compost in your backyard are also a great source of food for rats.
- Moisture: Aside from food, rats also require a daily source of water. So, make sure to repair any leaks in your pipes, sprinkler heads, and faucets and address any household issue that causes moisture build-up.
- Easy Access: Holes and cracks on your walls can easily invite rats inside. They may even take advantage of the branches and bushes that touch the sides of your property to access your indoors.
- Clutter: The piles of cardboard, newspaper, and old items in your home can serve as shelter for pests.
These illustrate the importance of doing household maintenance and explains why you should not procrastinate cleaning. Otherwise, you are creating opportunities for breeding, resulting in a rat infestation and the risks associated with it: food contamination, the spread of diseases, unsanitary environments, etc. Because rats are good at hiding, you will not often see them. They tend to leave signs of their presence and knowing what they are will allow you to take immediate and planned actions.
Signs of Rat Activity in Your Home & Where to Look for Them
- Gnaw marks on food, furniture and other items.
- Rat droppings that look like dark grains of rice in and around their hiding places.
- Rub marks and grease stains in areas where they travel along.
- Scratching noises that you often hear at night.
- Holes on the wall or floor that rats burrow for entry, shelter, food storage, and nesting.
- Shred materials such as cardboard and insulation that rats use as nests.
- Musty, urine odour that smells like ammonia.
The Challenges in Rat Control in Singapore
Rats are a serious problem. Unfortunately, it is likely that you will not see them until there is already a large infestation breeding in your home. They avoid predators with the use of familiar pathways and by hiding in out-of-reach areas such as false ceilings, burrows, and tight corners. Unlike mice, they do not just dart out into the open. Instead, they traverse in the corners and scurry along fences and walls. However, their elusive nature is not the only reason why rats are difficult to get rid of.
- Rats are everywhere: Rats live pretty much wherever humans do. This is particularly true in Singapore, where rats can access your homes and businesses from every possible entry points.
- They are intelligent: Several rat behaviours suggest their high intellect. For example, they have multiple means of communication such as squeaking. They also use their urine to leave warning signals to other rats and their body language like tail drumming to indicate aggression.
- These pests are not easily tricked: Rats are naturally suspicious of their surroundings and it is a typical frustration when you are setting out traps, only to discover them undisturbed a few days later.
- They grow immune to traps: Same tricks do not work with traps. They exercise caution and while you may catch rats on the first night you set out traps, the results may not be the same on the succeeding nights.
- Rats are flexible: With their long, flexible bodies, rats can escape through small holes even as small as 1cm. In addition to that, they are also efficient in swimming, running, and climbing.
Part IV: What Are Your Options in Rat Control?
It is easier to prevent rat infestations than to remove them. Therefore, aside from dealing with an existing rat infestation, your focus should be keeping your home rat-free.
Natural Rat Repellents
Many natural ingredients that are said to repel rats have a smell that rats hate. These include the following:
- Essential Oils (peppermint, eucalyptus, citronella, etc.)
- Plants (peppermint, lavender, camphor, euphorbias)
- Crushed Chili
- Black Pepper
Practical Methods to Get Rid of Rats
The problem with these natural repellents is that they merely drive away rats and do so little in getting rid of them. Therefore, your efforts in rat control should also involve steps to make your home as uninviting to them as possible and that takes removing their sources of food, water, and shelter.
Remove Their Food Source
- Clean food spills, crumbs, and stains immediately
- Dispose of your food waste in locked bins
- Empty trash regularly and take the waste out every night
- Avoid storing any waste inside your building
- Keep your bins away from your doors
- Clean your disposal area and bins as any spills can attract rats
- Remove unnecessary objects such as pallets and oil drums
- Store your food in airtight containers or in the fridge
- Keep your produce and ingredients off the floor
Limit Their Water Supply
- Fix any dripping faucets
- Keep your area free of puddles and any stagnant water
- Repair household issues that cause any moisture (e.g. damaged roofing)
- Pest-proof any drainage holes by placing steel screens
Eliminate Their Shelter
- Discard unnecessary non-food build-up (e.g. cartons, newspaper, plastic bags, etc.)
- Check your property for any issue that could allow rat entry (gaps between doors/windows and frames, cracks and crevices, etc.)
Will These Methods Be Enough?
In addition to these, pest control should also be part of your regular checks. It is necessary to engage professional help in monitoring any signs of rat activity in your property. At Rentokil Singapore, we offer a comprehensive rat control solution that involves inspection, eradication, monitoring and reporting.
In addition to our pest control service, we also designed a connected smart technology to control rats safely and effectively.
Rentokil PestConnect Service is an award-winning online connected system that provides 24/7 monitoring, rapid response, and protection against rodents. It uses traps, bait stations, and monitors, which when activated, sends an alert to our pest control specialists about a pest activity. They will also raise pest control recommendations, all of which you can find at myRentokil portal.
Why is Long-Term Rat Control Necessary?
Rat control is necessary to avoid several health and safety risks associated with rat infestations. Given their ability to breed fast and survive in almost any environmental conditions, you can never fully get rid of rats. With regular pest inspections, you can keep their populations under control.
Get started today with pest control. Visit our website or contact us 6347 8138 for more information.