Rats can spread disease, contaminate food, and cause costly structural damage. They are found in all areas of the County. Learning to recognize signs of rat activity, and how to prevent and control rat problems can protect you and your home against rats. 

The Vector Control Program provides educational rodent inspections FREE to County residents. It includes a Rat Control Starter Kit and instructions on how to properly implement rat control techniques. The Vector Control Program is not a pest control company and does not trap, bait, or remove rodents as part of the inspection, and does not provide poison bait. 

To request a rat inspection contact the Vector Control Program.

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Rat Facts

Unwanted rats are pests that can pollute food, spread disease, and cause damage by gnawing. Rats are most active at night. Rats eat many types of food, including human food, pet food, bird seed, and trash. 

Roof Rats: The most common type of rat in San Diego County, roof rats like to climb, rather than burrow. They live above ground and are gray or brown in color.

Norway Rats: Not commonly found in San Diego County, Norway rats prefer to burrow outside, are bigger than roof rats, and show a wide range of colors.

Wood Rats: Build nests out of sticks and debris, and are not found in homes, but some nest in outbuildings and even cars. They are gray or brown in color.

Rat Diseases

  • Plague: People and animals can be infected with plague from fleas that feed on infected rats, or from being bitten by an infected rat.
  • Food poisoning: Eating food that has been polluted with rat urine or droppings can cause food poisoning.
  • Rat-bite fever: A bite from an infected rat can cause rat-bite fever.
  • Parasites: Some rats can carry tapeworms.

Signs Of Rat Activity

  • Bark stripped from plants and trees
  • Piles of cut snail shells hidden under plants or piles of wood
  • Sounds in the attic, floor, and walls
  • Rat droppings in garages, storage buildings or other sheltered areas
  • Rub marks caused by greasy rat fur
  • Damaged food containers
  • Damaged food
  • Signs of gnawing


  (858) 694-2888