The How and Why of Rodent Infestations

The South Florida rat population is exploding. As the numbers continue to climb, so does the risk to pets, children, and homes. Rodents are a significant pain for all property managers worldwide, and many rely on a rat exterminator in West Palm Beach. Our experience is invaluable in getting your home or business to become and remain rodent-free.  

Reasons to Hire a Rat Exterminator  

Even though you have your options on the market, partnering with a professional is a huge step in the right direction. Dealing with any infestation, whether fleas and ticks, bed bugs, spiders, or ants, is a tall order for the average homeowner. Here’s why you should contact O’Hara Pest Control for rat extermination:  

  • Extensive understanding of all pests in or around your home  
  • Knowledge of how to tackle large-scale infestations  
  • It saves you from potentially misusing harmful chemicals  
  • Can correctly identify the source of the problem 

Dangers of Rats  

Rodents are vectors for disease, as rats carry more than 35 infectious diseases, along with mice. Seeing them around your home or warehouse can and often does lead to trouble. The most notable instance of this was the bubonic plague.  

Secondly, rats, along with all other organisms, need to relieve themselves of waste. Rat feces and urine can contaminate food, furniture and make a mess of your home’s insulation.  

Believe it or not but mice and rats can invoke fire hazards. Since rats and mice have insatiable appetites, their gnawing and chewing often mangle electrical wires and appliance power cords. These frayed wires can spark and present fire hazards in attics, crawl spaces, and other hard-to-reach areas.  

How Rats Enter Your Property  

Rats and insects are very sneaky critters. Some of their entry points may be the last place you’d look. Here are some of the most common entrances we see in most infested areas:  

  • Cracks in the foundation  
  • Chimneys  
  • Attached garages  
  • Gutters and waterspouts  
  • Utility panels  

Rats may also enter through plumbing. Did you know that rats are competent swimmers capable of treading water for three days straight? In addition, these rodents can hold their breaths for three minutes. Coupled with their ability to fit in tight places, plumbing is no major obstacle for them.  

How Exterminators Handle Rodents  

Regardless of the species of rodent, they all can prove to be a significant problem. Killing them on sight or by traps is not enough. Enlisting the help of professional exterminators is the best way to handle the current infestation while preventing the next.  


Once we’ve checked all likely places for rats to enter your West Palm Beach home, our specialists will seal all the holes and cracks we can. Locating and plugging holes in your defense is critical and our first step. If we can’t, we’ll advise you on the best ways of doing so.   

Baiting and Trapping  

This often-depicted mouse and rat removal method is frequently seen on TV, but is more effective than cartoons suggest. It is more effective than tv shows depict. For them to work, you’ll need to pinpoint where rats eat and their pathways. By placing these traps in high-traffic locations, you’ll increase the chances of thinning them down. 

Don’t get frustrated if your early efforts fail. Rats can be extremely picky eaters, so if one doesn’t work, try something else.  

Effective rat baits include:   

  • Cheese  
  • Peanut butter  
  • Bacon  
  • Hot dogs  

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Keep in mind that as you wait for results, rats and mice are incredibly smart. It takes a considerable amount of time for a rodent to trust a new object in its environment.  

There are three traps you can choose from depending on your desired outcome. There are glue traps, snap traps, live traps, and the newer electronic traps. Each has its pros and cons, yet all are effective.  

Glue Traps   

When a rat or mouse runs over a sticky trap, the glue binds with its paws. The more they struggle, the more entangled they become. These can be just as effective as snap traps but need to be in the exact right position. 

A downfall is that these traps also attract dust, ants, and pets, making the trap ineffectual.  

Snap Traps  

Perhaps the most iconic rat removal device, the snap trap is a classic that proves highly efficient and effective. These traps have a wooden base, a metal arm, a bait plate/trigger, and have enough oomph to do the job quickly.  

Baiting and priming the traps can be difficult for first-timers. Remember to the bait before setting the trap with spreads and to watch your digits!  

Electric Traps  

Lots of folks become squeamish around snap traps and glue traps for concerns about humaneness. Others have no interest in being near a live rodent. If you’re also worried, consider looking into electronic traps. These are new, innovative, and by all accounts hyper-efficient.  

Electronic traps employ a tunnel system that lures the unsuspecting rodent towards the bait. The trap emits a lethal electrical charge once it reaches the pressure plate or breaks a laser line. The voltage is terminal, leading to instant extermination. These are as humane as kill traps can get.  

Live Traps  

If you want to remove rodents without killing any of them, live traps are the best option for you. These are the only traps available that will do so. Simply place the bait at the end of the trap, and when a rat or mouse comes by for it, the door will close shut behind.  

Since the rat remains alive inside the trap, this means it can do its business. With any live trap, you run the risk of spreading disease through their waste product. Furthermore, you’ll need to release the rodent afterward if you choose a DIY approach, which can get messy and increase your chance of getting bit. 


Poison sprays and powders can work well for rats and are more mobile an option than traps. These commonly deal with a variety of rodent invasions, including but not limited to:  

  • Chipmunks  
  • Squirrels  
  • Woodchucks
  • Rats   
  • Mice  

Despite how cute some rodents can be, all can grow up into problem starters. Often, even newborns can prove nuisances. Whether in building or outside, rodenticide is a potent solution for many problems.   

These poisons are harmful not only when consumed but also when you inhale and touch some of them. These agents are best under professional supervision for proper and safe use, especially if you have children or pets.  


There are several types of powders that work well. Some kill rodents in a matter of a day while others up to three. The difference in time is reflective of the goal of that particular method. The only common thread is that all rodenticide powders are anticoagulants, which prevent blood clotting.  

Quick kill powders and poisons are great for finishing off the last few remaining pests or a budding infestation. Since there’s no functioning nest, you can switch to a more aggressive result without much consideration.  

On the other hand, if you’re in the thick of it and need a decisive win, tracking powder is your friend. Rodent powders works similarly to bee powders, which returning bees traipse into their hive. With rats, powders function similarly.   

Tracking powders can take up to three days to eliminate a rat after first contact. These powders activate as the rats pick granules up in their hair and on their paw pads. For most cases, within 20 days, the nest, and the majority of the population, will be no more.  

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Frequently Asked Questions  

Are Rats Loud?  

Yes, hearing a strange sound in the walls or attic is often the first sign that you have a rat or mouse infestation. Even when they cause a raucous, locating them on your own can be a much tougher task than you may think.  

Mice tend to make squeaking sounds that humans’ ears can process and detect. Clicks and sounds are how mice communicate with each other. These tend to happen at night when mice are most active.   

Rats, on the other hand, are quieter in this respect. They communicate vocally but on a frequency that humans are unable to hear. So, in the end, the rat is a little quieter.  

Set aside vocalizations, mice, despite being smaller, are noisier. It seems to be that mice aren’t particularly worried about the sound they make. Rats don’t share this trait as they seem to move with more caution. After time spent studying rats in labs, scientists have come to believe that rats consciously move silently.  

This tracks with how intertwined rats and humans have become. Looking around any city and you’ll see the signs. NYC, for example, has a very large population of rats. However, symptoms of rat populations come from evidence left beyond, not typically seeing them. Why? They’re adapted to learn how to remain close yet just out of sight and touch, allowing them close access to food.  

Are Rats and Mice the Same?  

Even though they’re closely related, mice and rats have many differences. The first clear difference is their size. Rats are typically 6-16 inches long, while common mice are 3-10 in. On the other end of the spectrum, some species of rats in the Philippines can grow as heavy and large as four pounds.   

Can Rats Squeeze into Small Spaces?  

Yes, and so can mice. Since mice are smaller, they can squeeze through a hole the diameter of a pen. Since rats are larger, the smallest hole an adult can fit in is 20mm. For comparison, that’s roughly the size of a quarter.  

Do Rats Have Collapsible Skeletons?  

No, but this was the working theory for quite some time. The reason why rats can squeeze through narrower cracks is due to their body shape. Being long, cylindrical, and flexible allows rats the flexibility to contort how they do.   

Determining If You Have an Infestation 

Just because you see a rat or a mouse doesn’t mean others are lurking around the corner. Sometimes, a healthy population can nest down the road, and individuals can branch out separately. A good way to tell how many rats there are is by finding their burrows.  

Rats live underground in what we call burrows. In these underground tunnels, research shows up to five live in them at a given time. While it can be inaccurate, the number of burrows is more than enough information to gauge your infestation. 

Do Empty Properties Attract Rats?  

Yes and no. Sure, if the property has a bountiful supply of water and food that can support a small population of rats. Most species of rats eat up to 30g of food and 25-50ml of water daily. As long as the property has some benefit, a rat population will seek it out and make it home. 

How Often Do Rats Reproduce?  

Rats and mice both produce newborns wickedly fast. A female rat can lay six litters a year of up to 12 pups each time. Two can explode to 1,250 in just one year!  

How Strong are Rat Jaws? 

Rats possess mighty jaws, especially for their size. They’ve shown the incredible ability to chew through:   

  • Wood   
  • Drywall  
  • Brick  
  • Concrete  
  • Aluminum  
  • Sheetrock  

These are only to name a few. If one of these manages to get a hold of you, you’re in trouble. Rats tend to lash out only when they feel threatened or cornered. With metal piercing teeth, rats can, without a doubt, bite down to the bone. 

Why Do Rodents Go Indoors?  

Rats may enter your home or business for one of several reasons. After all, rats need the same things humans do: food, shelter, water. Therefore, being around humans is natural for them, if not desirable and easier.   

Because rats are warm-blooded, the warmth and sunlight don’t regulate their core temperature like lizards. This prompts rats and mice to seek cooler or warmer areas as the need arises, often in homes and businesses. Whether or not they stay is determined by food and water availability.  


Here are what a few of our happy customers have had to say: 

“Choosing these guys was the best decision I’ve made. I can’t believe how quickly my rats were gone.” 

 -Fred J

 “We just moved in and immediately had a mouse issue… thanks O’Hara! We can finally sleep easy at night again.”

 Violet B 

Rat exterminator in west palm beach in his truck

Are You Looking for a Professional Rat Exterminator in West Palm Beach?  

O’Hara Pest Control has been in service for 47 years. We’ve dealt with most rodents, insects, and lawn troubles that commonly afflict Floridian homeowners. If you’re living through a nightmare, don’t hesitate and call us today. We’ll send a highly skilled exterminator to see your infestation through to the end.  

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