Four ways to know if you're living with rats

It's been a bumper year for rats in New Zealand.
It's been a bumper year for rats in New Zealand. Photo credit: Getty

It's the middle of the night and not a sound is to be heard. Suddenly the silence is broken by the pitter-patter of tiny feet running across the roof. 

No, your house isn't haunted - it's something far worse. You have rats.

It's been a bumper year for rats in New Zealand. They've been destroying crops in Nelson, damaging park benches in the Auckland suburb of St Heliers, and hordes of cat-sized rodents have been seen running amok in Titirangi.

According to pest controllers, rat populations have doubled in all of the major cities across the country.

But how do you know if you have rats?

According to pest control technician Neel Patel, there are four key things to watch for to know if you've got rat problems.

Check for grease marks

If you see greasy marks on skirting boards and walls in your house, this is a solid sign that you have rats on your property.

That's because dirt from the rats' bodies often leaves dark smudges around the house, Patel told the Daily Mail Australia.

Look for droppings and/or nibble marks

Seeing droppings around your home should set off an alarm bell, Patel says. The same goes for gnaw or nibble marks on skirting board or chair legs.

Cardboard or fabric

Rats use pieces of cardboard, fabric or soft material for their nests, so if you see pieces of these scattered around your house you should be concerned.

The flour test

If you have suspicions and want them confirmed, Patel suggests using the flour test. Sprinkle flour on the floor and then check for foot prints.

And it's not just New Zealand where rats have been causing problems. Homeowners in Sydney are being warned to rat-proof their properties to protect their pets.

Seven dogs have died in Sydney after contracting a disease picked up from rats, the Daily Mail reports.

The pets were infected with highly-contagious leptospirosis, which is transmitted through rat urine and faeces and can kill animals in 48 hours.

The disease is also potentially dangerous for humans.