Where Do Rats Go In The PNW Winter

November 15, 2022
Where Do Rats Go In The PNW Winter

This winter in the PNW is predicted to be a cold one from the start and that means that pests like rats will be looking for places to keep warm. However, rats do not hibernate during the winter, so where they find shelter will also be a place that is close to a food source that they can access as they endure the cold winter season. 

PNW Rats

There are two common types of rats in the PNW. These are the black rat (roof rat) and the brown rat (sewer rat). Rats are opportunistic survivors which enables them to live and thrive in many different habitats. The average lifespan of a rat is about one year with them reaching full maturity within the first 5-6 months. They become sexually mature and able to mate however within the first six weeks of life making it easy for this species to multiply quickly. 

Rats have always been known to be pests and are considered spreaders of at least a dozen different types of diseases. Most cities will battle infestations with these pests from time to time with some cities battling them more preveniently than others. Based on a study done by Orkin in the last two years, Portland ranked the 24th rattiest city in the U.S. These pests have the ability to swim up sewer pipes into people’s homes and can be found anywhere that provides shelter and easy access to a food source. 

Where Do Rats Go In The PNW Winter

Since rats do not hibernate during the winter they will look for a warm place to protect themselves from the cold winter elements and predators. This shelter will be dependent upon their environment. This means that rats can find shelter in your home with the crawlspace, walls, or attics depending on access points. They can shelter in sheds, cellars, and any other outbuilding that provide protection. 

Rats, of course, are not limited to shelter preferences. If needed they will even shelter in vehicles and since they are great at digging and naturally live in dens in the wild they can be found underground in your backyard or underneath your home. Rats in the wild typically access caves and other natural shelters but since this is not available to rats within urban areas, rats who prefer to den can be found digging sites near areas of your home that produce heat.

What Happens When Rats Find Shelter In And Around Your Home

Once rats determine a safe place to dwell they will forage for food and begin nesting. Rat’s nesting habits are similar to that of a bird but on ground level and much more disheveled. The materials they use will be a combination of natural and synthetic materials such as fabric, seat stuffing, and shredded paper. However, the materials are not what rats really care about, rather where they nest is what’s important. This is why this will look for warm, moist locations that are usually dark and left unbothered from humans and predators. Since rats are naturally social creatures dwellings are typically occupied by groups of rats within a single dwelling space. 

Numerous rats in a dwelling space that is part of your yard and home will begin to create problems. Since rats are carriers of disease they are harmful to you and to your pets. Many of the diseases they carry can be transmitted through contact with their feces and urine. For example, if rats are dwelling in your crawlspace and ripping apart your insulation and duct work for nesting, their feces and urine will begin to build up in these areas where air flows back into your home potentially carrying these harmful particles

Outside of spreading disease, rats are notorious for chewing. Their strong incisors allow them to chew through metal and they seem to be fond of electrical wires. Rats under a home in its crawlspace can cause structural damage over time along with any damage that ensues due to nesting habits. 

How To Prevent Rats From Getting Inside This Winter

  • Check all outside foundation vents to ensure they are secure
  • Replace outside foundation vents that have holes, cracks or are brittle
  • Check all exposed piping for holes  ( the size of a quarter or more)
  • Seal all holes around the foundation or piping that are the size of a quarter or more
  • Trim back all tree branches that overhang the roof
  • Trim back all bushes that are near the exterior of the home
  • Move all wood piles at least six feet away from the home
  • Get rid of burning piles or move them six feet away from the home
  • Remove all outdoor garden vegetation before it spoils for the winter
  • Seal all pet food is air tight containers
  • Make sure pet food is not left outside where other critters can get to it

With winter approaching in the PNW, it’s important to get your home ready. As you winterize your home it’s a good idea to take some time to protect it from unwanted pests that would try to find their way inside. 

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