Signs of Rats in The House: How to Spot and Remove Rats

Signs of Rats in The House: How to Spot and Remove Rats Fast

Noticing signs of rats in your domestic or commercial property is never good. It only takes a few rats to cause an infestation, as they are able to produce up to six litters a year with approximately eight rats per litter.


Safeguard provide a fully comprehensive mouse and rat removal service and work to help customers across the Midlands identify telltale signs of rats and what they can do to remove and deter further infestations. After you have spoken to our team, you can rest assured that your rat and mouse problem will be swiftly dealt with.

Let’s look at the most common signs of rats in houses before you make the call.

The 7 Telltale Signs of Rats 

Although rats are nocturnal creatures and can be difficult to spot in broad daylight, there are some simple signs to look out for.

Rat droppings – the most noticeable sign of a rat problem is by the droppings they leave and they can be found anywhere in the home. In most cases, rat droppings are located near the nest site. However both brown and black rats poop while moving, so rat droppings can also be found in trails. They are small, spindle-shaped droppings and closely resemble rice grains.

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Grease and rub marks – rats are not hygienic animals and are often covered in dirt and grease and this can leave smudge and grease marks across walls, floorboards and sometimes ceilings. 

Chewed areas – rats need to wear down their teeth in order to stop them growing and they will gnaw on almost anything to help them achieve this. Most notably, you will find gnaw marks on wooden furniture, sills, wires and other items around the house.

Nests – it’s unlikely that you will discover a rat nest on a plain site as they are nocturnal animals and prefer the comfort of shadows to raise their young. However, rats use a variety of home-based materials to make their nests, these may include:

  • Bits of carpet
  • Wood chippings
  • Twigs and garden debris (brought in from outside)
  • Bits of insulation

Rat burrows – although this is not a problem for rats in the house, they can create burrows outside in your garden. If they do nest in your garden, it can be difficult to catch and eliminate them as some burrows can be difficult to detect.

Footprints – in some cases, you may be able to notice rat footprints in your house. If the area has been desolate for some time, maybe it’s a vacant property or a rarely visited attic, dust will collect and rat footprints will be clearly visible.

Where to Look for Rats

Rats are always on the move in search of food sources, nest location/relocation and they are naturally adventurous and are curious by nature. This means that they can be spotted almost anywhere in the home, but this is far more likely at nighttime as they are nocturnal.

The type of rat(s) you have depends on where they will reside or travel through and we will discuss rat types in the next section. In most cases, both black and brown rats can be found in the following areas:

  • Attics, lofts and high-up areas – some rats are adept climbers and find comfort creating nests in quiet, high-up areas. They are difficult to reach and the only way you may notice them is if you inspect the area or hear scuttling across rooflinings and loft floorboards at night.
  • Kitchens – rats will nest anywhere there are gaps or cubby holes in your kitchen. They are able to squeeze through spaces more than half their size, so if there is an open cable from your garden to your house, a rat will have no problem entering it. You might be surprised to know that rats also enjoy making nests behind ovens. The reason for this is because the warmth from the oven provides a perfect nesting space for the rat litter. 
  • Miscellaneous – rats will nest and burrow anywhere they can. As mentioned previously, rats are able to squeeze into very tight areas and will have no trouble finding their way into awkward spaces. 

What Type of Rats Live Where?

Knowing what type of rat you are dealing with will help you lay the appropriate traps in the right places. We only have two rat species that are native to the UK; the brown rat and the black rat. 

Brown rats are commonly found in both domestic and commercial properties, and are keen burrowers. They will have no problem creating nests outside of your property and burrowing their way into your house. This is why it’s important to seal and cracks and gaps in the exterior walls. They are also adept at squeezing through tiny spaces and enjoy making nests in the warmth of domestic and residential properties.

Black rats are far less common and are not often found in rural areas, if ever. Black rats are usually found in seaside towns or pots and are very strong swimmers. Rats are ‘commensal rodents’, which means they enjoy living within human proximity – this is why they are found in our gardens, fields and homes.

Where they Reside in Your House

Rats can also be identified by the locations where they reside. Most rats that inhabit our houses are brown rats, but it is not unheard of for black rats to infiltrate properties, especially if they are located near a port.

Roof rat – as their name suggests, roof rats prefer to inhabit and nest in high-up places, away from ground level. You can find roof rats making nests inside walls, ceilings, lofts and attics. When laying traps, be sure to look out for the telltale signs of rats, such as droppings in the attic, gnaw and scratch marks and noises from above in the night. Traps should be place in safe areas inside the attic or where droppings were discover.

Norway rat – Norway rats prefer to nest on the ground and rarely come out in the day. Telltale signs include droppings on the floor, gnaw and scratch marks on skirting boards and sometimes in cupboards, as well as ripped and chewed up carpet. Norway rats make their nests on the ground and can be found anywhere in the house. In most cases, their nests will be located inside walls, behind furniture and underneath floorboards. Traps should be placed at the nest site or where you found the droppings.

To learn how to get rid of rats from your home, please visit our article on how to get rid of rats.

Do You Have a Rat or Mouse Problem?

While a one or two rats may not seem like a major problem, leaving them to nest and gain confidence in your property will cause serious infestations in the future. Rats make 5-10 litters every year and those litters can create up to 12 babies, and that’s just one rat.

Buy traps, place them in safe locations away from children and pets and remove the rat when it has been caught. If you have a severe infestation in your domestic or commercial property, professional intervention will be required

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