How To Prevent Rodents From Invading Your Home Or Business

While the following blog focusses on rat and rodent control for commercial businesses, we also offer residential pest control services.

So if you own a home or a business anywhere throughout Allegheny County, give us a call for the most thorough and friendly pest control services money can buy — (412) 252-5200!

There are fewer facts that send more shivers even up the most elitist of spines than the sobering reality that for every person that lives within the United States, there is also one rat.

With the possible exception of slithering snakes, few critters are more maligned than rats. Believed to have evolved on the plains of China, their exact origin remains a mystery.

Their association with the Black Plague that decimated Europe in the 13th century and other dreaded diseases has made them critters to avoid and even fear.

It is said that for every single rat that is visible there are hundreds more that aren’t — Not such a reassuring thought to say the very least for Pittsburgh business managers and owners attempting to defend against rodent infestations and maintain their hard-earned reputations, increase traffic and that hard-earned, all-important bottom line.

Although rats prefer grains, they are opportunistic foragers and will eat just about anything that crosses their path. Globally speaking, they have been known to dive for mollusks in Italy, feed on sparrows and ducks in Germany and even hunt for fingerling trout in North American hatcheries.

While all rats can be disruptive, Norway rats can be highly destructive. They consume and contaminate foodstuffs and animal feed, cause structural damages to buildings and their foundations, roadways, railroad tracks and irrigation canals.

Our integrated rodent pest control program balances conventional baiting and trapping methods with environmental management and pest exclusion strategies. Chemical applications are not encouraged but when they are necessary, our technicians always ensure the safety of the environment and all humans and pets that might be affected.

Continue reading below to learn more about the Norway rat, its affect on Pittsburgh businesses and our pest management and extermination services to control them, or speak with our team today to address any rat, mouse or other rodent-related emergency — (412) 252-5200.


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Ten Fascinating But Creepy Facts About Rats

As a species, rats are pretty resilient creatures, as evidenced by the following facts:

  • Rats Can Survive Being Flushed Down A Toilet

Rats are excellent swimmers and crawling up from Pittsburgh sewers and into commercial toilets is a piece of cake. Their ribs are hinged at the spine, which allows them to collapse their bodies so that they will fit into a very narrow ingress. If a rat’s head can fit into an opening, so can the rest of it. They can survive being flushed down a toilet because these rodents can hold their breath for up to three minutes, tread water for three days straight, and then return to where you saw them last. Isn’t that adorable?

  • Rats Breed Very Quickly

Believe it or not, rats can mate up to 500 times during the six-hour window when they are receptive. A female rat experiences this state about 15 times a year. At any given time, 11-31% of all female rats are pregnant. If their populations are left unchecked and untreated by outside professional exterminators, rats can produce 22 rats per litter and a total of 2,000 offspring within one year!

  • Rats Will Eat Their Own Feces

A study conducted by Martin Schein of the Animal Behavior Society indicated that human foods rats favor are meat, fish, cereals, scrambled eggs, macaroni and cheese and cooked corn. If none of these are available on the ala carte/dumpster menu, rats have been known to dine on their own feces, which is a source of nutrition albeit disgusting.

  • Rats Can Trigger Depression

The Journal of Community Psychology conducted a new study that reported that the more rats one sees on a daily basis, the greater the risk of suffering from clinical depression. According to Danielle German, assistant professor at Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Healthand co-author of an earlier similar study conducted in the poor urban sections of Baltimore:”Those who live in areas where the perceived rat problem is the greatest are more pessimistic about their own ability to control rats, have less confidence in their neighbors’ commitment to rat eradication and have relatively little faith that the city would act if called upon to address the rat problem.”

  • A Rat’s Teeth Never Stop Growing

Rat teeth have been known to grow up to five inches per year and can gnaw through lead, cinder blocks and aluminum sheeting. They must gnaw and chew in order to survive and this action wears their teeth down. It is estimated that if their teeth were allowed to grow unchecked, they would grow continuously in a spiral at an 86-degree angle, which would eventually make it impossible for the rat to close its mouth or eat, resulting in death.

  • A Rat Can Fall As Far As 50 Feet And Land Uninjured

Rats are similar to cats in the sense that when they fall, they usually land on their feet. Whenever possible, they use their tails by wrapping around things as they descend.

  • Rat Tails Are Temperature Regulators

Rats do not sweat and they control their body temperatures by contracting and expanding the blood vessels in their tails. When the rat’s body temperature rises by a few degrees, the veins in the tail blood vessels swell, permitting the flow of warm blood through the tail. Conversely, the rat is cooled by a loss of heat when its body temperature dips.

  • Rats Are Worshipped In India

Some 20,000 rats are worshipped in a temple located in Northwestern India dedicated to the Hindu goddess, Karni Mata. Devotees believe their karma will reincarnate them as rats, as Hindu philosophy dictates that all human and animal life are interconnected. This ornate marble edifice was built in the early 1900s by Maharaja Ganga Singh,and is decorated in silver and gold.

  • Some Rat Species Grow To Be Very Large

The Sumatran Bamboo Rat can grow up to 8.8 pounds, which is comparable in size to a small house cat. Adults can measure up to 20 inches in total length. The Gambian Pouched Rat can grow up to 3 pounds and as long as 3 feet from nose to tail.

  • Rats Are Very Social Creatures

While most people cringe at just the thought of a rat in their midst, rats like the company of both others of their ilk and humans. They gather in groups where they groom, sleep and play with each other. They are extremely territorial creatures and have been known to attack rats that are not part of their community. A group of rats is called “a mischief.”

What Are Norway Rats And Why Are They So Invasive?

It is believed that the Norway Rat, (Rattus norvegicus) also known world-wide as the Sewer Rat and the Brown Rat, may have originated in Asia. They found their way to America as stowaways on board sailing ships around 1775.

According to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Norway rats were first brought to England from a Norwegian lumber vessel and that’s where the name comes from. They can grow to be over a foot long and sometimes even as long as 18 inches! A female can give birth to up to 22 babies in a single litter.

They are usually brown in color and weigh on average about 11 ounces. They can grow up to 18 inches at maturity, which includes the tail. These rodents reproduce rapidly and according to The Department of Public Health, the breeding is most active in the warmer months of the year.

The life cycle of a rat rarely exceeds 18 months with most dying before 12 months of age. Their ability to reproduce so quickly ominously predicts the speed in which a rat population can get out of hand without the professional pest control and pest management strategies and solutions a company like Pestco provides.

Although Norway rats are not as agile as other rat species and their vision is poor, these rodents have been known to infiltrate structures through openings as small as ½ inch. Their sharp teeth can tackle almost any substance and they will chew through anything that crosses their path in their quest for food and water, including metal, concrete, plastic garbage cans, insulation and electrical wires, which often causes fires.

They nest near garbage and breed in basements, under sidewalks and near streams and rivers, and in some Third World countries, it is estimated that Norway rats destroy 15 percent or more of agricultural production every year.

Studies And Statistics About Norway Rats

Studies about rat behavior peaked during the 1930s and the 1940s and more than 60% of all articles published in the leading animal psychology magazine of the time, the Journal of Comparative and Physiological Psychology involved the use of rats as subjects.

There have been many biochemical and behavioral studies concerning the Norway rat. Scientists have relied heavily on data gleaned from this rat species to learn more about animal development, cognition and learning.

The Oswaldo Cruz Foundationconducted a Brazilian two-year ecological study regarding the behavior of the Norway rat. Results were published in March of 2016 in the journal, Plos One.

Norway Rats As Carriers of Disease

The Bubonic plague is a dimly recalled, horrible contagion that occurred in Europe during the Middle Ages. While that may be something that isn’t likely to happen again with the power of modern drugs and treatments, the Norway rat still poses significant health risks to both humans and animals. This is due to the contamination of food surfaces and the fact that they are carriers of bacteria and diseases as well as serving as hosts for ticks, fleas and mites. Rat bites and rat urine also spread illness, which can be very serious and can cause kidney and liver damage.

In addition to Well’s Disease, a skin disorder, and Rat-Bite Fever, the Norway rat can transmit the following conditions to humans or livestock: bacterial infections such as typhus and leptospirosis, trichinosis (from eating undercooked, raw or contaminated meat) and salmonella (food poisoning).

Rodents And Their Damage To Pittsburgh Industry

It is likely that the Norway rat found its way to Pittsburgh in the same manner it arrived at other destinations: namely, stowed away on board European sailing ships arriving in American ports. They hid in the cargo holds and lived off the many crops that were intended as sustenance for both humans and animals on their long voyages across the sea. Even in the less crowded colonies established in the New World, rats quickly became a problem.

In 2016, one local pest control company rated Pittsburgh as among the “top twenty rattiest cities in America” (#18) list. Once inside an edifice of any type, rats can cause major damage to farms, food products, industries and households. They chew on wood and electrical wires, contaminate food sources and are carriers of serious illnesses. According to The National Pest Management Association, more than twenty million rodents (both rats and mice) invade homes and businesses every year.

Those who work within Pittsburgh commercial and industrial spaces spend over one third of every 24-hour work day in factories and offices, and it is believed that they produce more waste within their places of business than at home. These edifices are prime target zones for Norway rats. The mere thought of a Norway rat infestation is enough to trigger severe anxiety in the hearts of Pittsburgh property owners and managers. Both rats and mice have been responsible for serious health violations in several Pittsburgh establishments.

At one time the Allegheny Health Department issued a consumer alert for one of the 18 cinemas within the county. Health inspectors reported that rodent droppings were “too numerous to count” and were discovered in every cabinet used to store butter dispensers, another that stored bulk candy, in all the cabinets along the cash register line and all over the floor behind a table used to season pretzels. They also cited the presence of a slew of fruit flies on the floor below and around the dish machine.

A very popular Asian restaurant, which Pittsburgh City Paper readers had voted it to be one of Pittsburgh’s best Asian restaurants and was also twice named by Pittsburgh Magazineas one of the city’s best eateries, has also been cited for health violations.

The Allegheny Health Department closed this facility after inspectors discovered a significant rodent infestation and a host of other health code violations. The inspection report was shocking and indicated the presence of a dead rodent inside a cooking vessel and old droppings found on a wooden platform used to transport goods, in between boxes of food and all along the walls of the basement. They also found many flies in the basement, which was an area used for food preparation!

Rat Exterminator Services For Pittsburgh PA Businesses

Pestco is the leading provider of long term and emergency pest control, pest management and exclusionary solutions for commercial and industrial spaces throughout Greater Pittsburgh and western Pennsylvania. This includes; restaurants, hotels, nursing homes, schools and universities, healthcare facilities, salons and spas and both office and apartment complexes.

Geographically, our span of services cover commercial industrial or municipal businesses located in the following areas: West Mifflin, Sewickley, Coraopolis, Fox Chapel, Tarentum, Allison Park, Shaler, North Hills, South Hills, Bethel Park, Mount Lebanon, Clairton, Homestead, Monroeville, South Hills, North Versailles, White Oak, Cheswick, Bridgeville, Upper St. Clair, Elizabeth, Swissvale, McKees Rocks, Wexford, and all other sections throughout Western PA.

Pittsburgh Rodent Control And Exclusion Services

Our integrated rodent pest control program balances conventional baiting and trapping methods with environmental management and pest exclusion strategies. Chemical applications are not encouraged but when they are necessary, our technicians always ensure the safety of the environment and all humans and pets that might be affected.

Our technicians first thoroughly inspect a building (offices, schools, hospitals, etc) for vulnerable areas and then eliminate rodent food and shelter sources by sealing up potential entry points. This includes foundation cracks, poorly sealed vents, drain pipes, and any other areas of ingress that may not be properly sealed.

Complete Commercial Facility Hygiene Services

This three-pronged, coordinated initiative offers the ultimate in pest management and control services, environmental odor control and air freshening strategies supplied by Air-Scent to all commercial and industrial spaces operating in Pittsburgh and western PA. This vast array of professional services is available under our cost-effective blanket of a highly respected, family-owned and operated company that has been in continuous operation since 1948.

Call us at Pestco today if rodents have infested your business or commercial space. Don’t despair, for help and reinforcements are on the way!

Final thought about rats: You dirty rat. ~ James Cagney


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