How do rats squeeze through the smallest of gaps?
Posted on 28th September 2019 at 16:01
The commonest pest that we deal with in Bracknell is the rat: the grey rat, the sewer rat or Norway rat depending on what you want to call it but there is one interesting thing about the rat, and that is they don’t exist in the wild. I’m sure many people would disagree with that statement but, you won’t find these rats outside of buildings all year long and you certainly won’t find them living in the middle of nowhere.
Ok, what about remote islands where they attack ground nesting sea birds you ask?
The answer to that is they were taken there and left there by man; this is not a true reflection of rats living as rats do.
So where do rats live then?
With us is the simple answer, wherever we are, you’ll also find the rat. Rats are so used to us that they can only live with us as they depend almost entirely on mankind to supply them with food.
Research has shown that rats form highly stable colonies when left to live in peace, redevelopment, new building and changes to infrastructure all unsettle the balance which means that rats have to move to someplace else. The one place that rats can move around easily and has coverage to just about 100% of the entire property market are the sewers and drains.
Lots of edible food gets swept of plates and flushed down the drains meaning that there is an abundance of food in the sewers, if the rats fall on hard times and there is not much food available, then even human faeces will do as a meal – a hungry rat won’t turn its nose up at much.
Rats exploit the drainage system mapping out branches, dead end and any faults that appear and if these faults lead to the inside of a building then there’s a whole new area to investigate for the potential food sources and nesting sites.
There are several myths about rats; one is that they have a collapsible skeleton and the other is that their bones are made of sinew and flexible. These are all modern myths, rats don’t have a skeleton that collapses nor do they have bendy bones, what rats do have is a body ideally designed for digging and swimming, in that the body shape taken is that of a long cylinder.
When faced with a small gap the rat will use its whiskers to ‘feel’ the space, if the information received back tells the rat that its head will fit in the space the its body will follow and the rat will be through the hole.
A drainage picture showing a loose joint - rats have climbed out and into the interior of the building at this point.
The clavicle on the rat sits further back down the spine of the animal in relation to the position on man and doesn't form any impediment to the shoulders pushing back into the body, by breathing out the rats cross section decreases to a point where the body is now narrower than the head.
Rats will seek out holes and breaches in the walls around the sides of drain pipes that cut through the wall of the inspection pit, once found they will push through and enter the void ‘behind’ the pit. Here it will simply follow the pipeline where it enters through the underground aperture created for the drain pipe.
If the property is older the pipes may run through the interior of the house to link up with the main drains out in the street. These drains may just lay under the floorboards in dirt (older houses don't have concrete floors); rats are expert diggers and they will tunnel up out of broken pipes or where the joints have crumbled away – if these holes sit above the usual waterline then you’re probably not even aware of the problem until the rats turn up.
The benching in a Victorian house; this now sits beneath a kitchen extension and the rats are getting in through the hole on the left - the owner said "sometimes there's a bad smell" - this is when the drains back up and waste material sits in the channel and the gases travel through the hole.
The relationship between rats and life in the drains is why, when we are called out to a rat infestation we will carryout a drain survey to see if there are any faults within the system. The rule of thumb for openings is … your thumb. If you can push the end of your thumb through a hole then that’s big enough for a rat to get through - and it will!
Here at Bracknell Pest Control we don’t charge for the drain surveys; occasionally we’ll arrive at a new job and go straight to the drains, run the camera through and find the fault that's caused all the misery. All we need to do then is to come up with a plan to resolve the infestation with either a one way valve or a full repair.
A better understanding or rats means we have a better way to resolve your rat problem - Our customers are our priority and we look further to rid you of your rat problem.
Tagged as: Rats
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