Closeup photo of a startled ratDanvers, Massachusetts (MA) is slowly being invaded — by rats. These pesky rodents are coming out of the woodwork and into human residences. City officials and exterminators alike are troubled by this development and are taking steps to control this potentially dangerous threat.

Rats in Your House

Without seeing them yourself, you might miss some of the warning signs that these rodents are in your home. Black rice-like droppings around the house, especially near food packages or in places where you dispose of food, is a telling sign of a rat problem.

If you see a lot of these droppings, a call to the exterminator might be a good idea. Check your food packages, especially those stored in boxes or thin plastic, for signs of chewing. Dispose of them if you do.

Rats can transmit harmful and deadly diseases so it’s best to be on the safe side. Shredded pieces of paper, clothing, or even plants can mean that the rats are nesting and ready to give birth.

Harbingers of Disease

Rats bring a host of diseases along with them including leptospirosis, Lassa fever, hemorrhagic fever, salmonellosis, rat bite fever, lymphocytic choriomeningitis, and plague. Yes, bubonic plague.

These diseases spread through contact and bites or by ingesting — or merely being in contact — with rat urine or droppings. Modern medicine has made these diseases less threatening, but they can still be dangerous if left untreated.

Keep Your Home Rat-Free

Check your house for any holes that rats can get into and seal them. Place a few traps around the house if you’re unsure if they have already made their way into your house.

Keep your yard free from trash and debris, especially food waste. If you must take out kitchen garbage, make sure to keep them in tightly sealed bins.

Rats are serious problems that need to be addressed quickly. Don’t hesitate to call an exterminator if you believe you have an infestation. Keep your house sealed, look out for the signs, and try to keep your yard a little more orderly.