You have a home with a concrete foundation, so you don’t have to worry about rats chewing their way in, right? Unfortunately, while you may think that a concrete barrier will keep the rats away, the fact is a determined rat can gnaw its way through under the right circumstance.
Let’s take an in-depth look into why rats chew, how strong their bite is, and why concrete doesn’t provide the barrier you think it would when keeping rats out of your home.
Understanding rats and how they behave can help you better understand these pests and help ensure that you keep them from invading your space.
- Rats chew through things, including concrete, to maintain their teeth.
- The concrete’s strength and the rats’ size affect their ability to chew through.
- Rats prefer easier entry points and existing weaknesses in structures.
- Preventive measures include eliminating food sources, sealing entry points, installing barriers, using rat-resistant materials, and applying deterrents.
- If you see signs of chewing or gnawing, it’s best to call professional rodent control services to prevent further damage.
Why do rats chew on things?
Rats chew through things for a variety of different reasons. They may chew up paper and insulation to build their nests or through cardboard boxes to get to that tasty cereal in your pantry. They may also chew through drywall, wood, and even concrete to find a new place to call home.
Why are rats so set on chewing? The fact is, it has to do with their teeth. Rat teeth grow at an amazing rate of 1.4mm a day, every day of their life. Chewing helps them file down their teeth and prevents them from growing too long and extending into their skull. So, in a way, chewing on a concrete wall, for example, is similar to using a nail file to keep your nails trimmed.
While that may explain why rats gnaw on concrete, why would they want to chew a hole through concrete? The fact is a rat would much rather find an easier way to get through to the other side of the wall, but their powerful jaws, believed to have a more forceful bite than an alligator based on size, allow them to chew through when necessary. Rats may decide the time to chew through concrete is worth it when:
- They are starving and in search of food
- They are in danger from a predator
- They need a new shelter from the elements
Various aspects of concrete, such as the aggregate size and composition used, as well as any potential reinforcements, such as steel bars or mesh, can affect a rat’s ability to chew through. However, the strength of the concrete is the main consideration. Strong and durable concrete is achieved through curing. Curing is a process that ensures adequate moisture to provide continued hydration and development of strength, resistance to freezing and thawing, volume stability, and scaling resistance. For example, moist cured concrete for seven days is around 50 percent stronger than uncured concrete, making it harder to chew through.
Factors affecting rat chewing ability
A number of different factors, in both the rat and the concrete, can affect a rat’s ability to chew through concrete.
1. Rat size
The size of the rats plays an important role in their ability to chew through concrete. Smaller rats have reduced jaw power, making it more difficult. In contrast, larger rats can put more force behind their bite, increasing their ability to damage the concrete in your home.
2. Rat’s age
Young rats typically have softer teeth that are still developing, so their chewing ability may be less pronounced compared to adult rats with fully developed and stronger teeth.
3. Rat’s health
The health of the rat, as well as their dental health, can affect their ability to chew through harder objects, such as concrete. For example, if the rat’s teeth do not align properly, it can affect its ability to chew as effectively, making it nearly impossible to chew through concrete.
4. Species of rat
Different species of rats may have varying chewing abilities. For example, Norway rats (Rattus norvegicus) have strong teeth and powerful jaws, making them capable chewers, while smaller species like roof rats (Rattus rattus) may have relatively less chewing power.
5. Concrete thickness
Concrete is a dense and solid material in general, so the thicker it is, the harder it is for a rat to chew through. Thicker concrete provides more resistance against the rat’s teeth and reduces the likelihood of them being able to penetrate or create openings. Rats typically seek easier entry points, such as existing gaps or weaknesses in structures, rather than attempting to chew through thick concrete.
6. Condition of concrete
The condition of the concrete can greatly affect a rat’s ability to chew through. For example, foundational concrete that has had a proper curing session is more likely to keep the rats out than those that have not been cured.
Rat damage to concrete
Chewing through concrete is not the only way rats can damage a concrete foundation. In addition to chewing, rats are skillful diggers and often burrow underneath the concrete slabs of your foundation. When they do this, they can create gaps where air, water, and mold can develop, weakening the concrete structure and causing the concrete to crumble.
Other materials rats can chew
Rats can chew through a wide range of materials. Some common materials that rats are known to chew include:
- Fabric and upholstery
- Electrical wiring
To learn more about the damage rats can cause, read “Types of Damage Rodents Can Cause to Your Home”
Preventing rats from chewing through concrete can be challenging, but there are measures you can take to reduce the risk. Here are some preventive steps you can consider:
- Eliminate food sources: Ensure that no food sources are readily available to attract rats. Properly store food in sealed containers, promptly clean up spills and crumbs, and secure garbage in tightly sealed bins.
- Seal entry points: Inspect the exterior of your property for any gaps, cracks, or openings that rats can use to enter. Seal these entry points with durable materials like concrete patching compound, metal mesh, or expanding foam to prevent rat access.
- Install barriers: Create physical barriers to deter rats from accessing vulnerable areas. Consider installing metal mesh screens or wire mesh around utility openings, vents, and other potential entry points to prevent rats from gnawing through the concrete.
- Use rat-resistant construction materials: When constructing or renovating, consider using rat-resistant materials. Some materials, such as metal or cement board, are less susceptible to rat chewing compared to wood or plastic. Consult with professionals or local building codes for appropriate materials.
- Apply deterrents: Certain deterrents can discourage rats from chewing on concrete surfaces. Applying taste or odor repellents specifically designed for rodents may make the concrete less appealing to rats. Consult with pest control professionals for suitable repellents and application methods.
- Maintain a clean environment: Regularly clean and declutter the areas surrounding concrete structures. Remove potential nesting materials like cardboard or fabric scraps, as rats may be attracted to them.
Seeing signs of gnawing and chewing in your home or business
If you see a rat scurry across your floor or notice signs of chewing, such as holes in the concrete, walls, or food packaging, chances are you have a rat problem. Addressing rats as soon as possible can help reduce the risk of more serious damage to your home and your health. If there are signs of damage to the concrete foundation of your home, it may be best to call in professional rodent control services that can inspect and evaluate the damage and take care of the infestation. Rats can contribute to foundation instability and cost you thousands of dollars in repairs if left untreated.
Keeping your home or business rat-free
A determined rat can chew through just about anything, including your home. At Insight Pest Management, our team of rodent specialists understands the behavior of rats, where they hide, and the damage they can cause. Our experts provide a comprehensive inspection and identify potential points of entry and areas of structural damage before creating a treatment plan that eliminates the rats and keeps your home rat-free.
To learn more, schedule an appointment today.