The paw prints of a rat are reasonably easy to identify. Rat tracks are approximately 3/8 to 3/4 of an inch in length. Their front paws are widely-spaced and four-toed, while their hind legs have five toes. Rat tracks in snow-filled areas may also include claw marks.
Whether you find them in a dusty attic or muddy soil, rat tracks are one of the telltale signs of a rat infestation. But what exactly do they look like?
Rat tracks tend to be larger than those of other common household rodents, like mice and squirrels. If you’re unsure whether a rat is invading your home, other clues, such as gnawed wires and scattered feces, can also help identify an infestation.
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How Do I Identify a Rat Track?
Most rats, like the Norway rat or roof rat, have defining footprint features that make them stand out from other rodents like mice or voles. These include the following characteristics:
- Broad four-legged front feet
- Narrow and longer five-toed hind feet
- Faint drag marks from the rodent’s tail
- Visible claw marks
- Side-by-side back feet, while front feet never align
Following the path of the rat’s tracks can also help you identify where they nest and if the population is growing. If you find a set of tracks leading to and from a specific area, this is likely where the rat colony nests.
What Size Are Rat Footprints?
The front paw prints of a rat are smaller than the hind paw prints. Front paws measure around 2×1.5 cm, whereas hind legs measure at around 2×2 cm. In inches, rat prints average at about three-eighths to three-quarters in length.
Rat vs Mouse Tracks
When put side-to-side, rat and mouse tracks are easy to tell apart. Mice have much smaller feet, with their paws measuring 3/8 inches or less. On the other hand, rat feet are much larger, and their back paw tends to be larger than their front paw.
On top of that, mice don’t leave behind drag marks from their tails in fresh or deep snow, whereas rats do. This is because rats have much longer and heavier tails than mice. Mice also raise their tails when frightened, so if you see a set of tracks with a long drag mark and no tail, it’s likely from a rat.
How Do I Find a Rat’s Entry Point?
Rat prints can be an excellent way to find a rat’s point of entry into your home. Other signs such as rub marks, droppings, and damage can help you locate whether you’re dealing with rats, weasels, or raccoons.
By following the tracks, you can likely find where they are coming in and out from.
Here are some potential spots where rats can make their entry into your home:
- Wall Cracks
- Rats can chew up holes in weakened foundations, giving them an entry point to your home.
- If the metal gate of your vent is too widely-spaced, rats can squeeze into these tiny openings.
- If your chimney isn’t capped, rodents will use it to keep warm during the winter.
- Window Gaps
- Rats can take advantage of any old or broken window and openings to enter your home.
- Doors that are left open or have gaps can also provide an easy way for rats to get inside.
By fencing and regularly maintaining your property, you can help to keep rats away and prevent them from ever accessing your home in the first place.
What to Do if I Identify Rat’s Tracks in or Around My House?
Once you’ve identified rat tracks around your property, it’s crucial to take action to get rid of any rats before they cause any more damage. Rats carry germs and parasites that can harm your family and pets. This is especially true with their droppings.
Consider some of the following methods of dealing with a rat infestation:
Seal up any entry points. To prevent them from getting into your home, it’s essential to block off any potential openings that rats can use. This includes:
- Cracks in the foundation
- Gaps around doors and windows
- Unscreened vents
Set up traps. Once you’ve sealed up entry points, setting up traps can help catch any rats already inside your home.
Eliminate food sources. During snowfall, there’s a shortage of critters that these small rodents can eat.
Rodents may trek down their normal habitat in search of food during this time. So, don’t tempt them to enter your property by leaving food out in the open.
Use rat-repellent products. Several products on the market can help to repel rats. These include:
- Ultrasonic devices
- Rat-repellent sprays
- Rat-repellent granules
Call a professional. If you’re having trouble getting rid of rats on your own, a pest control company can help. They will be able to identify the potential entry points and set up traps to get rid of the rats in your home.
A rat infestation can be a frustrating experience, but with the proper knowledge and tools, you can get rid of them for good. If you believe you may have a rat problem, be sure to contact a pest control company for assistance.