(BPT) - Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, people across the country have been hunkering down at home to stay healthy and follow local stay-at-home orders. Unfortunately, people aren’t the only ones looking for shelter, and homeowners are faced with how to kick out unwelcome houseguests threatening their health and wellbeing: rats.

With restaurant closures, limited urban activity and other COVID-19 impacts, rats have moved to people's homes at an alarming rate to seek food and shelter. If you start to notice signs of rats in your home or on your property, it's important to act fast. Rats are some of the most common and destructive rodents impacting public health today. Not only do they multiply quickly, they can indirectly or directly spread up to 26 diseases.

“Rats and the parasites they carry can transmit potentially deadly diseases to humans such as Salmonellosis, Listeria, Typhus, Leptospirosis, Rat Lungworm, and Rat-Bite Fever,” said Katie Swift, Liphatech, Inc. “At a time when the health and safety of our loved ones is top-of-mind, taking steps to properly protect your home from rats has never been more important. Consider consulting a professional to help you identify and treat your problem by using an integrated approach, with EPA-approved rodenticides as needed.”

What's more, rats can cause destruction to wood, electrical wires and lawns, costing billions in damages annually. It only takes a hole the size of a silver dollar or smaller for a rat to sneak inside your home, and before you know it, they can cause damage to the safe haven you’ve been working hard to maintain.

The experts from RISE (Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment)TM provide important tips and insight to control rats:

How to Spot a Rodent Infestation

Keep a sharp eye out for the following signs of rat infestation:

  • Materials that could be used for nesting, including leaf piles, firewood, shredded paper, fabric or dried plants
  • Droppings in and around places you store food, including drawers, cupboards or under the sink
  • Holes in walls, floors or packaging of items
  • Stale smells that seem to be coming from hidden areas in your basement, attic, or laundry rooms.

Target Nesting Sites

It’s important to remove potential nesting places from your property as soon as possible. Look for hidden indoor spaces such as attics and crawl spaces, and remove leaf piles and mulch outside. Store firewood at least 20 feet away from the house and keep shrubbery trimmed and cut back. If you notice a strange, stale smell in your home, look for other indicators that you have an infestation.

Eliminate Entry Points

Check for cracks and holes on the outside of your home as well as locations where utilities and pipes connect because these are easy entry points for rodents. Seal holes and replace any damaged screens on windows and doors.

Secure Food Sources

Seal all food in air-tight containers and keep kitchen garbage in containers with tight-fitting lids to prevent pests. Clean up spilled food right away in order to eliminate potential rodent food sources in your home.

Follow an Integrated Pest Management Approach

Rats can reproduce at alarmingly high rates, which is why it is important to act now to prevent rat infestations from taking over your home. Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is the best practice for controlling harmful rodents. IPM balances the benefits of cost, control, public health and regulatory compliance. Integrated Pest Management includes three steps:

  • Find: Find the source of the problem, and make sure you understand what’s needed before taking action.
  • Solve: Solve the problem with a proven approach. Rodenticides are part of an IPM approach, as responsible, targeted use of rodenticides is, at times, the best solution. Rodenticides are rigorously tested and reviewed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) before they are made available for sale and use. Read and follow all label directions prior to use to ensure you are using a product designed to control the specific rodent you are targeting, and that you know how to properly use it.
  • Prevent: Manage future problems by stopping them before they start.

Call in the Pros

It can be overwhelming if you suspect you have a rat infestation. You may be tempted to use rat traps; however, these measures can prove to be ineffective as they are designed to trap one rat at a time. Luckily, you don't have to face a rat infestation alone. A local pest control professional will use an IPM approach to help determine the best treatment for rodent identification, targeted product selection and professional application to prevent them from coming back.

To learn more about the steps you can take to protect your home from these unwanted house guests, visit: http://www.debugthemyths.com/managing-rodents/.

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