Norway rats are the most common rats in urban areas throughout the United States, and they are well known for their close association with filth. Rats can directly transmit many diseases to humans, and their bodies are covered in numerous disease-causing microorganisms, such as E. coli and Salmonella. These pathogens can be indirectly transmitted to humans by rats, as rats smear pathogens on every indoor surface in which they make contact. Considering the tremendous number of rats that inhabit sewer systems, it’s not surprising that they harbor dangerous pathogens. It can be assumed that some rats found within homes were once dwelling within a sewer, and unfortunately, rats sometimes invade homes directly from sewer systems.
Sewers provide Norway rats with an ideal habitat, as shelter is almost always available and food sources are abundant. Rats are also great swimmers, so getting around in sewers is no problem for them. The tons of food that humans put through garbage disposals provides more than enough sustenance to support massive populations of rats. Sewers also provide rats with warm shelter during the winter and cool shelter during the summer. Rats are abundant within any city sewer system, but big city sewer systems often become overcrowded with rats, which forces large numbers to vacate to the ground surface.
Exceptionally large herds of rats come flooding out of sewers in response to floods and sewer construction projects. This happens frequently in Houston where heavy rainfall and frequent floods cause rats to migrate out of sewers and into homes, buildings, garages and sheds. Rats are skilled at burrowing through earth, and sometimes, rats find breaks in brick walls and sewer lines which they use to burrow upwards and into homes. Rats have been known to crawl up lateral house drains and into homes through floor drains, roof drains, sewer vents, and even toilet bowls. In fact, hundreds of incidents involving toilet rats are reported in big cities each year. Not long ago, a rat was found stuck in a hotel room toilet, but the name and location of the hotel was not disclosed. Pest control professionals typically use a loop snare to remove rats from residential toilets, and luckily, such incidents do not occur often.
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