The reaction that people will have to seeing a rat can vary, from the typical cartoon scream to simply being surprised into silence at seeing them. In reality, the rat will be very quick to try and escape. In many cases, all you will see is a grey or brown blur as the rat disappears into a hole or behind an outbuilding, as they are naturally cautious about people and will not stick around for too long. However, one of the concerns that will always come with seeing a rat is whether there are more of them around. In many cases, this is a valid concern.

Are Rats Solitary Creatures?

One of the natural reactions many people will have is to hope that once they have seen a rat, it is the only one present. After all, how much damage and trouble can one rat cause?

Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. Rats are social creatures, and it would actually be quite rare for a person to see just one rat, without there being a community of rats near the vicinity. In a few cases, the rat spotted may just be looking for new territory, as the population of rats in a nearby area is too high, but this is very rare.

Rats are usually living as part of a larger population. This can be spread across neighborhoods, underground urban areas, or a network of nests in more rural areas. In order to maintain successful reproduction rates, rats have always been fundamentally associated with people, and it is actually quite rare to find a rat population flourishing in an area where there aren’t people present. Rats will generally live in groups, sleeping together and even grooming each other. Each group is usually centered around family clans, although this isn’t always the case. 

Rat Breeding 

If you have seen a rat, then the way that rats breed should warn you to take action promptly. Female rats are not seasonal, and as long as they have a secure nesting area and sufficient food sources, they can give birth to litters of up to 14 rats up to 5 times per year. Female rats also tend to mate with rats from outside their family group, so if you have seen one rat, then it is unlikely to be alone. One period during which female rats tend to be seen more often is when they are looking after baby rats, and while they are generally nocturnal, if you see a rat during the day, it may have a nest of babies.

What Should I Do If I See a Rat?

The first thing not to do when you see a rat is to ignore it. It is important to investigate the situation to see if you can find signs of other rats being active nearby.

This type of investigation can involve looking around a property, in dark areas such as attics, outbuildings or behind furniture, and in quiet rooms for droppings or smudges of rat “grease” at ground level. If you do find more signs of rats being active in your area, you should put together a plan to start dealing with the infestation.

Hiring a Professional

Dealing with a rat problem is not an easy job. It can be frustrating, especially if you are new to techniques used for dealing with rats. One option is to hire a rat removal expert. It does come with a cost attached, so it is important to balance the amount of time you will spend and the damage the rats can cause when looking at this option. Always discuss the professional’s plans and approach when you are considering hiring them. Avoid those who start talking about using rat poison, as it is not an effective method.