Rats are sneaky and clever in finding their way into your home for warmth and food. Though these animals are smart, they’re dangerous to have in your home. 

Rats can damage valuable assets, like furniture, wiring, and a whole lot more. They also contaminate any food they touch, making anything in your kitchen potentially compromised in the case of a rat infestation. They also carry and spread diseases, which are not something you want in your home or around your family. 

If you see one adult rat, it may indicate a full-blown infestation. You need to act quickly to get these unwanted pests out of your home for good so you can keep your house and your family safe.

Below are the tell-tale signs that you have a rat problem so you can identify it quickly and find a solution as soon as possible.

Signs That You May Have a Rat Problem

Aside from spotting rats in the home, these are other signs that you might have a rat problem:


rat droppings on wood

Rat droppings are dark brown, pointed bits that can look like grains of rice. They can vary in size depending on the species but tend to be about ½ to ¾ inches long. 

Rat droppings can carry an array of diseases like Salmonella and hantavirus, which is a potentially life-threatening illness.

Rat droppings are most commonly found in the backs of cabinets, tucked away in the back corner of silverware drawers, in attic spaces, underneath appliances, or behind storage boxes.


Before seeing the droppings, you may instead smell rats and their feces or urine. Rat feces and urine both have a pungent and musky odor. Rats themselves may smell bad, a sign of the places they’ve been and the diseases they carry.

When a rat dies, the smell is atrocious. The body produces several chemicals as it decomposes, like sulfur dioxide and methane, that mix and creates a putrid odor. If you smell it, you’ll know. 

Rub and Grease Smears and Rat Footprints

Another tell-tale sign of rats in your home is grease smears. Rat fur is so dirty that it almost always leaves a mark. That, along with dirt, leaves a trail of evidence behind.

Any surface a rat comes into contact with, chances are high that it will leave a greasy smear or rub mark behind. You may see these marks on floorboards or tiles, as rats will often take the same path over and over. You may also notice grease smears along walls and cracks, as rats will try to stay low-profile and keep as close to cover as possible.

Try performing a grease check:  Rub your finger on the grease mark. Does it smear? This means rats have been there recently. If the grease doesn’t smear, it doesn’t necessarily mean the rats are gone for good; it just may have been a while since they’ve been in that particular spot

Rat footprints can also tell you where the rats are going and where they are hiding, so look out for these small marks along the floor.

Scratch/Gnaw Marks

rat scatrch marks on wood

Rats are always chewing since their teeth never stop growing. They enjoy chewing on cardboard, body soap, furniture, wooden items, wires, and insulation. Keep an eye on these areas for gnaw marks that may indicate an infestation.

Damaged Food Packaging

Another major sign of a rat infestation is damaged food. If you notice any packaging that has been opened, chewed through, or ripped, don’t eat it. It could be contaminated. Rats have incredibly strong teeth, capable of breaking through just about any container for food.

If possible, use glass containers for food storage to prevent them from contaminating it.

What to Do if You Suspect a Rat Infestation

It’s easier to try to prevent a Houston rat infestation than it is to get rid of one once it has occurred. Eliminate unnecessary clutter, and keep any food stored securely. Try to keep your home and yard clean as well, trimming any messy vegetation as needed. Also, keep your garbage secure with tightly closing lids.

If it’s too late and you’ve already noticed one or more of the signs listed above, call Stampede Pest Control as soon as possible. We offer prompt and effective pest control solutions that will suit your Houston home and keep you and your family safe.