If anything will keep you from a messy gutter, it’s the idea of gutter rats. Did you know that gutter rats exist, and that they pose a regular threat to residential homes and businesses that don’t see regular gutter cleaning services?
The damages they cause can easily require repairs, compromising the durability and lifespan of your gutters. With prompt action, however, you can get rid of gutter rats and other pests before you need repairs.
In this article, you’ll learn all about gutter rats and other pests that love messy gutters, and how it can affect your home both directly and indirectly.
What Are Gutter Rats?
Gutter rats, while it might conjure up images of old school cartoons and action movies, are a real thing and are particularly difficult pests to deal with.
These are rats that get into the gutters, often climbing their way up a clogged downspout or from an overhanging tree. These rats are pervasive, and while they might be manageable for a time in the gutter, they will quickly cause damage to the gutter system, knocking free brackets and chewing out bolts that secure your gutter in place.
This also provides them with easy access to the soffits of the home, and over time, unmaintained gutters can result in water damage along the walls of the home as it escapes between the loosened brackets, or spills out over the leaf litter clogging the downspout.
If this happens, it can soften the wood and provide these rats with a way into the home, as they are known to chew through just about any material to get to warmth, nesting materials, and food.
How Do I Get Rid of Gutter Rats?
Gutter rats are notoriously difficult to get rid of once they are in the home, as it will become a traditional rat problem as they make nests within the soffits and within the interior walls, chewing at wires and insulation that can cause a fire hazard.
To prevent gutter rats, you should always keep your gutters free of clogs and well maintained so that the rats do not see it as a suitable nesting place. This means seeing an annual or seasonal gutter specialist to clean the gutters thoroughly and check and potential entry points for nests.
If you notice the presence of gutter rats, however, the best time to get rid of them is while they are still in the gutter, before they move into the house proper.
These rats can be displaced easily by simply cleaning out the gutter, ensuring that all leaf litter and potential sources of food – like acorns – are removed. The downspouts should also be checked for any clogs or nests that have built up over time, as these will need to be removed. Your gutter specialist may also recommend netting or another preventative measure to stop gaps and discourage animals from climbing into the downspout for any reason.
What Animals Nest in Gutters?
There are many types of animals that will seek out nesting spots in leaf-covered gutters and downspouts. (1) Insects are also commonly found in gutters that have not been maintained recently, and most commonly, gutter specialists see a wide range of inhabitants, including termites, snakes, hornets, mosquitos, birds, mice, squirrels, chipmunks, rats, and snakes in poorly maintained gutters and downspouts.
From insects to rodents, unwelcome house guests can cause serious trouble. That’s why preventing pests from getting indoors or quickly banishing them once they’ve made their presence known is key.
These animals look for a few key factors when considering their next apartment – security, warmth, nesting material, and access to food and water. Downspouts and the high elevation of roof sections provide the necessary security, and the protected sides provide enough warmth or shelter to satisfy most animals and insects.
For nesting animals, the leaf litter makes an ideal area that removes a lot of the laborious work that they must go through in collecting leaves from the ground, as the protected status of the gutters and abundance of leaves provides an excellent nesting ground.
While access to food and water can potentially draw predators, it also poses an easy meal for these pests.
Standing Water Also Attracts Bugs
A little-known fact about poor gutter maintenance is that the standing water that collects because of leaves clogging the downspout or gutter sections is just as harmful as clogs.
For many insects, it only takes the smallest amount of standing water, sometimes just enough for a small leaf to hold to breed. With deeper pools of standing water, which is often seen in clogged gutters, this can lead to a concentrated population boom.
These standing, stagnate pools of water are excellent breeding grounds for flying bugs such as bees, wasps, beetles, and most hazardously, mosquitos.
Even if the pools of water are small, or only temporarily, warm temperatures can cause hibernating mosquito eggs to hatch, causing an increased population of mosquitos for the local area.
These bugs are unpleasant, and in many cases, are invasive or hazardous to the health of residents in the case of wasps.
Other times, bees and beetles are relatively harmless, but a concentrated overpopulation of these species can wreak havoc on gardens and lawns.
Why Pests Love Messy Gutters
Messy gutters provide a great nesting site for many animals and insects that love leaf litter and moisture as it either provides a reliable food source, a source of standing water for breeding grounds, or excellent nesting material and security.
This also attracts predators of those animals to the area; for example, if your gutter has standing water, it might be a breeding ground for mosquitos, which is likely to attract birds that may then choose to nest in the gutter.
Other reasons animals like squirrels may like messy gutters is that they can safely store their acorns for the winter in the leaf litter, but they may dig their way to unwanted areas when depositing or storing their food.
Many animals see gutters and homes as refuges away from development of their homelands, and others already in the backyard might just see it as an opportunity for a warm bed and easy, protected nesting site.
These pests do not intentionally damage the home, but they should be removed humanely to ensure that they do not cause damages to the home, either directly or indirectly.
What Can You Do About Pests Living in Your Gutters?
A lot of homeowners opt to take the humane route of getting rid of pests, especially as more concerns about pesticides appear on the market.
This route involves relocation of pests and planting specific areas in the garden to attract them away from the property or providing alternative shelters.
For invasive or potentially hazardous species, these pests are often removed by a specialist who has the equipment and knowledge to handle the animals or insects with expertise and care.
From rats to bees, wasps, squirrels, and everything in-between, professional pest removal services are the most common route for many homeowners to take.
It is important to note that pests, while they may cause trouble for the home when they begin to nest in your gutters, they are a valuable part of the ecosystem and should be preserved to prevent declining populations from struggling or disrupting additional food chains in the ecosystem that might depend on these pests’ survival.
A humane pest control specialist will be able to provide insight into proper procedures for removal of wildlife and insects or help remove unwanted invasive species that can further disrupt the local food chain and ecosystem.
Once You’re Pest-Free, Talk to A Gutter Repair Specialist
Now that your home is no longer playing host to a bunch of pests, you have another problem to deal with: the damage they’ve done.
This damage can undermine the structural stability that gutters were meant to provide, with holes chewed in brackets, nesting clogging your downspout, and an array of other problems that pests cause for gutters.
Taking on the task by yourself can be a daunting project, however, and can even be dangerous as it often requires ladder work to reach the upper portions of the gutter that attach to your roof.
Depending on the type of gutter you have, it may not be able to be repaired unless it is also detached from the roof, requiring repair of the outer shingles as well, which is not a suitable DIY project.
The best choice is to talk to a gutter repair specialist in your area who can help you recover from the damage. With Same Day Pros, you can find a specialist in your area who not only provides the services you are looking for but is available to take on the project.
With a little quote comparison and due diligence, you’ll be off to the races, securing your home from more pests and ensuring your weather resistance is back up to standard with refreshed and repaired gutters to help protect your home.
- Forbes.com, Is DIY Pest Control a Good Idea, https://www.forbes.com/home-improvement/pest-control/should-you-diy-pest-control/