How do Rats Live in Sewers?
Sewers present rats with an opportunity to explore. As omnivores, rats will feed on practically anything including feces and carrion. Food is therefore plentiful for rats in the sewers as they are full of undigested food, feces, and food scraps that have been flushed down the toilet. Sewers are also attractive to rats because they are warmer than the surface during cold weather and cooler in the summer when it is hot outside. Rats get into sewers by sneaking through grates or manhole covers that are open to the street. They can also get inside by tunneling underground and coming across broken, old drainpipes made of brick or terra cotta. Pipes that lead to the sewers sometimes break with age, excavation, or tree roots that have broken through. Sewers mimic the tunnels that rats naturally burrow themselves. And though they are dark and full of water, rats have no trouble swimming nor following their other senses to get around.
What Types of Rats Live in Sewers?
Norway rats live in sewers. These rats are also known as brown rats, sewer rats, street rats, common rats, and a myriad of other names but they are all the same. Norway rats have coarse, brown, or dark grey fur, rounded snouts, and beady black eyes. Their head and body length ranges between 15 and 28cm while their tails measure approximately 10 to 24cm long. The average Norway rat weighs about 230g. Despite their stout little frames, these are incredibly flexible and agile creatures. Norway rats can climb walls, jump three feet into the air, and squeeze through holes that are only 20mm wide. Their ribs are even hinged at the spine, so they collapse when squeezing through tight spaces. Norway rats are also very good swimmers. These rodents can hold their breath underwater for 3 minutes and tread water for 3 whole days. It is these qualities, combined with a preference to live underground, that make living in sewers second nature to Norway rats.
How do Rats Get Out of Sewers?
Rats get out of sewers the same way they get in. Because they are so good at swimming and climbing, rats have no trouble going up the pipes that brought them there. They also take advantage of breaks they find in the sewer pipes underground and tunnel their way up to the surface. Rats have very sharp claws that let them climb up vertical surfaces and dig through the ground. While there is plenty of food and space to go around in the sewers, note that rats do not spend all their time there. Rats sleep and tunnel underground but they come up to the surface to find food. They will come up every day to find food under fruit trees, in alleyways, in vegetable gardens, and in people’s homes. When their populations grow out of control, rats will also venture out to find new places to live.
Rats Can Come Up Through Sewers
Rats can absolutely come up through the sewers and onto your property. Many rats will spend their days sleeping in the sewers and coming up at night to find food. Moreover, when there are too many rats in the sewers, some will venture out in search of new homes. Rats go in and out of the sewers by crawling through manholes, grates, and breaks in the sewage pipes. They have no trouble digging, swimming, and climbing their way around the sewage system. Once on the surface, they will feed on whatever they find, such as flower gardens, fallen fruit, vegetables, food scraps, animal waste, and garbage. Rats looking for a new place to live may burrow in the yard or attempt to move indoors by squeezing through a basement floor drain, sewer vent, or opening in the foundation of the home.
Rats Can Swim from Sewers into Toilets
While it is rare, rats can swim from sewers into toilets. In some places, the storm drains on the street and the pipes from people’s toilets are connected underground. This is known as a combined sewer system. Rats take advantage of this system by swimming and crawling through the main tunnel, through residential sewer pipes, then up their drainpipes and into their toilets. It is remarkably easy for a rat to climb up a three-inch toilet drainpipe, even if it is full of water. Rats are very flexible and have incredible endurance. Once inside, they will probably look for a place to nest, like a cluttered area in the basement. Rest assured that sewer systems today separate wastewater from storm water, so it is much harder for rats to get around. In addition, modern homes usually have valves and grates installed in their plumbing to avoid the invasion of rats. If you are worried about rats coming up through the toilet, ask your landlord if the plumbing is rat-proof or have a plumber take a look at your system.
Rats and Sump Pump
Sump pumps are used to collect water from the soil surrounding the house and pump that water out of the basement. Small, perforated drainpipes are buried around the house and pool the water they collect to the lowest part of the basement, where the sump pump is located. The pump then pushes the water up a discharge pipe and out of the house. This keeps the basement dry and helps prevent flooding. While it is rare, rats can burrow into a drainpipe and into the basement, so it is important that you keep your sump pump covered. Rodents also risk clogging your discharge pipe, so be sure to have a grate installed on the front of your drainpipe. A clogged drainpipe could result in having water flow back into the basement.
What to do if you Find a Rat in the Toilet Bowl
Be careful when handling a rat in the toilet. Rats have the potential to spread disease and cause injury with their sharp teeth and claws. If there is a rat in your toilet, you can either asphyxiate the animal with bleach or call a professional for help. To asphyxiate the animal, pour bleach into the bowl, close the lid, then wait 10 to 15 minutes. Then, dispose of the rodent carefully by first putting on a pair of disposable gloves and throwing it out in a sealed plastic bag. Throw the rat out immediately along with your gloves. If you are interested in a more humane approach, call a professional pest remover and they will remove the animal with a snare. To prevent this from happening again, call a plumber to cap your sewer pipe.
Call a Professional Rat Exterminator
If there are rats on your property, call a professional rat exterminator for help. Licensed technicians will have the skills and experience necessary to get to the bottom of your pest issue. They can identify exactly where the animals are coming from and implement a rat control solution that works for you. Technicians have access to baits, traps, and tools that are much more effective than the ones you can buy in stores. No matter the extent or severity of your rat problem, the professionals at The Exterminators can help. Call The Exterminators for safe and reliable rat control services: 647-496-2211.