Once rodents are in the home, they are notoriously difficult to get rid of. They are social animals, and they can breed very quickly. Rodents are also great at hiding in the dark crevices of your home, and it could be a while before you know you have a problem. By then, you already have a severe issue to contend with.

There are two things you need to be aware of as a homeowner to avoid serious rat infestations. The first is that all homes have some vulnerability where rats and mice could take advantage of getting into your home.

Once you know that your home is vulnerable, you can get to work to tighten things up to make it difficult, if not nearly impossible, for rodents to get in.
The process of fortifying your home is called Rodent Exclusion. Exclusion is the process of inspecting your home and finding all those vulnerabilities and fixing them. The problem is that as the homeowner, you may overlook the serious issues your home has.

You may know that there is a ripped screen on a window on the second floor, but it never really made your radar or got to the top of the list of things that needed to be fixed. You may not even realize there are also things like having a tree too close to your home with branches close enough for rats to get to your roof very easily.

When you call Pinnacle Pest Control for a Rodent Exclusion Inspection, we are coming in with fresh eyes and years of experience. We will find every issue in your home and recommend a remediation plan.

The second thing you need to know is the signs of an active infestation. If you know the signs, you have a much better chance of finding an issue before it gets out of hand.

The main things you need to look out for are the following:

  • Rodent droppings around food packages, in drawers or cupboards, and under the sink.
  • Nesting material such as shredded paper, fabric, or dried plant matter.
  • Signs of chewing on food packaging.
  • Holes chewed through walls and floors that create entry points into the home.
  • Stale smells coming from hidden areas.

In the Sacramento area, the vast majority of rodent cases involve Roof Rats, so the clues you are looking for will be higher up in the home. A Norway Rat infestation will be more in basements or the lower levels of your home. While it is good to know the signs of different rats, if you have a rat problem, the chances are it will be Roof Rats. Don’t ignore your basement, but focus more on your attic.

Whether you know the signs of a rat infestation or not, if you even think that you may have an issue, do not hesitate to call us. We will come to you and inspect your home, not only for rats but also for any pests lurking in the dark crevices and corners of your home. If we do not find anything, we can still discuss our exclusion services and an ongoing plan to treat the perimeter of your home so your home stays rodent and pest free, and you can keep your family safe.

With cooler fall weather on its way—we hope!—perhaps with some much needed rain, many of the pests most common and dangerous in our Sacramento region begin to look for warm, snug places to ride out the winter. One of those most likely to move into your home or commercial building is the roof rat, otherwise known as Rattus rattus.

Neither Rattus rattus nor its relative, the Norway rat (Rattus norvegicus) are California natives; both originated in Asia and spread over most of the world centuries ago. The roof rat is smaller than its Norwegian relative, weighing 5 to 10 ounces, and is light gray or near-white in color, with a pointed snout, long ears and a long black tail the length of its body. The Norway rat larger, averaging 7 to 18 ounces, is darker in color, with short ears and tail.

Many of us think of rats as ground-dwelling creatures who scurry along alleys and under the bushes. But Rattus rattus is a climber, and your cozy, insulated attic looks mighty inviting as a place to nest and raise a litter of baby rats. The roofs of many buildings harbor handy entryways for these resourceful, smart and dangerous critters—unscreened ventilation vents, bent or torn flashing around chimneys and pipes, even missing or damaged shingles. Likewise, overhanging tree branches, pergolas and rain gutters offer rats an easy climb to gain access. One local homeowner we know saw a rat scurrying off her roof and over a backyard pergola around twilight one evening, only to lose sight of him in some tree branches. A flashlight revealed the rat’s destination: It was hanging upside down from a tree branch by its back claws, munching on a bird-food bell hung from the same branch.

Signs you have rats can include droppings near pet bowls, food containers or recycling bins; signs of digging near fences or around sheds; the sight of a rat traveling a utility line or tree branch at dusk; or even a rat carcass presented to you by the family pet. But often, particularly in the case of roof rats, you will hear them: scurrying or scuffling sounds, even squeaks or squeals, coming from overhead as you lay in bed late at night.

Disney cartoons aside, Rattus rattus is no laughing matter. Rats eat and contaminate human and animal food and are prodigious chewers fond of electrical wiring. They have been known to chew through phone wires and have been blamed for electrical fires. Roof rats carry many diseases dangerous to humans and pets, including typhus, leptospirosis, trichinosis, salmonella, ratbite fever and plague. Insulation material makes great nesting material, and they often leave it shredded and fouled with urine and feces.

Our pest control company has been assisting homeowners and business owners in eliminating rats for many years. But until recently, there was little we could do to mitigate the structural damage and unsanitary conditions left behind. That’s why we will be rolling out a brand new service, just in time for cool-weather rat season, that will include repair of any structural damage, removal of all contaminated insulation and rat waste, sanitization of the area, and replacement of insulation with a new, environmentally safe blown insulation product that will actually deter rats, insects and other pests from taking up residence in your attic in the future.

Our pest control technicians are already undergoing training in this new product line, and we’ll be telling you more about this new service soon. It is a service our customers have been requesting for some time, and we’re glad to be able to respond—not only in getting the rats out of our customers’ attics, but in returning their homes or commercial spaces to safe, sanitary and healthful conditions.

Although we’re enjoying (or cursing) unseasonably warm weather in Sacramento this fall, eventually cooler weather and rain (if we’re lucky) will set in for the winter. The cooler weather drives rats and mice indoors, looking for a warm, dry place to nest and raise their young. That’s why at this time of year calls from customers who suspect they have a rodent problem skyrocket.


Scientists characterize urban rodents—in particular the house mouse, Norway rat and roof rat, or black rat—as among the world’s most “successful” mammals, right up there with humans. As noted rodentologist Bobby Corrigan wrote recently for PCT Magazine, rodents are successful for six reasons: 1) they adapt easily to different types of structures and environments; 2) they reproduce quickly when conditions are good; 3) they can raise whole families in very small spaces; 4) they are secretive, elusive, active at night and alert to danger; 5) their body shapes and colors help them to hide; and 6) they are relatively smart. “Rats, for example, are considered to be highly intelligent,” Corrigan writes for PCT, “because research has proven they can learn and perform new tasks — an important asset when entering a new building or area for the first time.”

Corrigan cites several qualities of roof rats that have allowed them to adapt so successfully to civilization:

  • They navigate easily in high spaces above the sightline of humans and other natural predators, such as dogs and skunks.
  • They nest in difficult-to-access spaces—attics, ceiling spaces, dense foliage and treetops.
  • They range 500 feet or more to find food, often crossing multiple property lines. Where do you begin to treat?
  • They move in and out of homes and buildings, living indoors for a few weeks or months, then moving outdoors into trees or bushes.

But we know from experience, that colder, rainy weather tends to move them inside—often into your attic or crawlspace.

A rodent problem is not one that can be left untreated. Not only do rats and mice cause significant property damage—chewing through wires and cables, gnawing woodwork and other structures, creating fire hazards—they carry a number of diseases harmful to humans. If left to nest comfortably in your attic, basement storeroom, or backyard shed, a few rats will quickly become an army. According to the University of California-Davis Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program, “The average number of litters a female roof rat has per year depends on many factors, but generally it is 3 to 5 with 5 to 8 young in each litter.”

In order to effectively protect your home from rats or mice, the first step is to determine where the pests are most active and how they are getting in, and treat those areas first. (For a list of signs you have a rat or mouse infestation, check out this UC Davis Integrated Pest Management publication: http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn74106.html.) The second step is to clean and sanitize the area, removing rodent droppings and urine stains, repair any damage to wiring, wall board or woodwork, and replacing dirty and damaged insulation, preferably with an environmentally friendly insulation product containing a pest repellent. The final step is to rodent-proof your space so that you won’t have a repeat of the problem the next time the weather takes a turn.

Your licensed pest professional is trained to inspect your home or business; determine where the rats are coming in; where the rats are active now versus old, inactive sites; and how much damage has been done. Our company’s service also includes cleanup and sterilization, repairs, reinsulation with a “green” product that rats don’t like, and rat-proofing the area to prevent the critters from coming back in.

In our Sacramento region, rats often move into your home or place of business without you even knowing it, according to the experts of the University of California Integrated Pest Management program. “People don’t often see rats, but signs of their presence are easy to detect,” according to the UC IPM Rat Management Guidelines.

In our professional experience, home- and business owners all too often do realize they have a rat problem, usually when they hear noises from overhead and sometimes after extensive damage to their property has already been done.

In our pest control region, two types of rats are predominant, the Norway rat and the roof rat, and the one we receive the most calls about is the roof rat. Roof rats love the fruits, nuts and berries that grow in many of our Northern California yards. “When feeding on a mature orange, they make a small hole through which they completely remove the contents of the fruit, leaving only the hollowed-out rind hanging on the tree,” according to the UC IPM program. “They’ll often eat the rind of a lemon, leaving the flesh of the sour fruit still hanging.”

If only they stayed out of doors. Roof rats do not like to nest at ground level; rather they prefer to be off the ground, in overgrown bushes or trees, or, if they can find a way to get in, the attics of our homes and commercial buildings. They get into our attics by means of the trees and foliage in our yards, drain spouts, pergolas, then as their name implies, onto our roofs and into any tiny opening they can find into our attics. As the weather grows cooler and wetter with fall, roof rats are more and more likely to seek shelter indoors.

Once inside, the damage they can do is extensive. In addition to contaminating and spoiling any people food or pet food they may have access to, they gnaw on nearly anything, including electrical and telephone wiring, wooden doors and woodwork, and drywall, and they shred insulation for use as nesting material. The number of litters they have annually varies with food supply and conditions, but UC says they generally have three to five liters per year, with five to eight rat “pups” per litter.

The danger goes beyond electrical fire danger and property damage. All rats, including our local roof rats, are known carriers of typhus, leptospirosis, salmonellosis (food poisoning), ratbite fever, and even plague.

Controlling rats involves a three-pronged approach: elimination of the existing rats; repair and sanitation of the environment; and sealing off any points of entry into your structure. We at Pinnacle have recently expanded our menu rodent control services: We have always offered our customers a money-back guarantee to remove rats from their premises—but too often, a lot of damage was already done. Now we can take the additional steps of cleaning your attic and removing any rat waste, food hoards, and nesting material; repairing structural damage and sealing all points of entry; and reinsulating your attic with an environmentally friendly insulation product. By the time we leave, the rats are gone, and your attic is restored to its original clean and secure condition.

Have you laid awake at night, as many of our customers have, listening to the scrabble of feet overhead? We’d love the opportunity tell you more about our rat remediation services. We can promise you a better night’s sleep.

When customers call this time of year, the question we hear most often when we pick up the phone is, “What is that noise in my attic?” Chances are, if it’s winter and it’s Northern California, the answer is, “It’s a rat.”

Rats are a common problem in our Greater Sacramento region, especially during the cold, rainy months of winter. Usually it is roof rats, or rattus rattus, but occasionally we also get Norwegian rats, often in garages or basements. When the weather gets cool, rats are instinctively driven indoors for shelter, to nest and raise their young. They come into any type of home, any type of commercial building, in any neighborhood. The best way to prevent them is to keep them from coming in to begin with, and to make your home or place of business as inhospitable to them as possible. More about this here

Once in a great while, we find the problem is not a rat but another type of critter. Birds—pest pigeons, jays, crows or even mockingbirds—can make a tremendous racket. In some areas, squirrels, raccoons or opossums may try to move in for the winter. Here are a few hints to help you figure out what type of critter is making those mysterious, alarming sounds:

What Time of Day
Do you hear noises during the day or only at night? Often rats begin their evening travels right around dusk. Raccoons also are active at night. Homeowners often don’t notice any sounds until everyone is in bed for the night and the house is quiet, then they lie there sleepless wondering what is crawling around above their heads.

If you are hearing noises during the day, it’s possible your problem may be squirrels or, occasionally, birds.

What Kind of Noise?
Do you hear scratching or gnawing noises? Loud scratching and chewing sounds are typical of rats and sometimes mice, which can be surprisingly loud for such small animals. Rats are notorious for chewing through electrical, telephone and home alarm wiring, creating fire hazards and costly repair bills. Very soft scratching could be an indication of bats; although bat colonization of attics is rare, it does happen occasionally, particularly in large structures.

Rats and mice rarely squeak or chirp loudly enough for you to hear them, unless they are trapped. Squeaks and chirping sounds may point to baby raccoons (only in the spring), birds or even bats.

Flapping or rustling noises are the most common indicator of a bird infestation—again, a rare occurrence, but it can happen.

If you are hearing quick, scrambling noises accompanied by rolling sounds, you may have squirrels in your attic—the rolling sound is them rolling nuts or perhaps your dog’s kibble around the crawl space. Jays, magpies and crows also sometimes roll acorns or nuts across the roof—in that case, although the noise you’re hearing is coming from outside, it often sounds like it’s right above you.

Loud thumps are more likely to be made by raccoons than by rats or mice. However, keep in mind that animals caught in traps may make a range of loud noises that are otherwise uncharacteristic.

It can be hard to identify exactly what type of noise you’re hearing, and even harder to explain it to someone else. Our team of experienced pest control experts will be glad to help answer your questions or do a quick, preliminary inspection of your premises. Once we’ve confirmed that rats are making themselves at home in your home, we can help, with a full range of effective services to remove them, restore your space to a sanitary condition, and prevent the critters from coming back.

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