How to get Rid of Rats - Expert Tips
In this article, we will advise on all you need to know about how to get rid of a rat infestation and other rodents. Should you notice rat droppings in the house or garden, foot and tail marks in the dust, or signs of wood and electrical wires being gnawed, it is time to get rid of them.
You can either call a local professional pest control company professionally trained in rat control and has access to poisons for rat problems, etc., or you can take our advice and deal with the rat infestation yourself. Whether you use bait traps or a lethal dose of poison, we can help you to get rid of rats.
A Norway rat likes to come out at night. You might hear them scurrying around and squeaking during the night before you even see other evidence of rat activity.
If you have rats in the home or yard, chances are you have mice in the home, also. Why? Because rats and mice will gain entry into the home in the search of the same food source and shelter! So we have to know how to get rid of rats and mice.
Let’s take a look at ‘How to get rid of rats’ and what we are up against
Image credit: IRRI Photos
There are two species of rats common in the U.S. The Roof rat and the Norway rat. Male Norway rats can weigh up to 12 ounces.
Norway rats or (Brown rats), and roof rats are large rodents that can be up to 10 inches long, though roof rats may be slightly smaller than brown rats. The brown rat has fur on its body, scaly hairless tails, and small ears. The brown rat has a short, rounded snout and short whiskers.
A roof rat or black rat is a common long-tailed rat that came originally from India. Black rats are a serious health risk and pest problem for farmers of crops. Roof rats are excellent climbers and can find their way into the attic when seeking shelter. A small rat can get through a gap about the size of a quarter.
The roof rat has bigger ears and a longer tail than Norway rats. Roof rats have pointed noses and gray, brown, or black fur.
If you live in a house with trees near it, rats can gain access this way, keeping rats out by trimming branches back away from the roof and utility wires. Remove vines like ivy on the outside walls of your house, as this will deter the roof rats from getting into your home.
A brown rat will gnaw at pretty much everything from wood, plastic bags, and wiring and can even chew through tough material. All this gnawing causes damage to the house. They can even chew through electric cables and other building materials, which can cause the blowing of fuses. Look out for signs of significant chew marks around the house.
Rats will constantly gnaw to keep the length of their teeth down. Otherwise, the teeth will outgrow their mouths.
When rats are in a new place, they will run along close to the walls, and because rats’ fur contains a lot of oil, they leave oil marks on the walls, about 2-3 inches from the floor. A mouse will do the same thing, leaving oil marks 1 inch from the floor. Something to look out for when deciding if you have a rat infestation.
On the other hand, Mice:
Mice are a lot smaller than rats at around 5 to 8 inches in length.
A mouse has large floppy ears and a furry body and tail.
A mouse has long whiskers and a pointed snout.
They are color-blind, but their sense of smell, hearing, taste, and touch is excellent.
They can get through a gap as small as the width of a pencil.
Do Rats Spread Disease?
Oh yes, a rodent infestation can carry diseases! That is why it is so important to eliminate rats.
Rats are linked to health risks. Rats are known to carry disease and can carry viruses and bacterial infections like:
Salmonella can be carried by rodents and passed on to humans and their pets. You can catch it by drinking water infected by rodent feces. Symptoms can appear within 12 – 72 hours.
Symptoms of Salmonella poisoning
Typhoid can be passed on to humans by rats in poorer countries where hygiene is not so good.
Symptoms of Typhoid
Aches and pains.
Weil’s disease can have a serious impact on a human’s health. This disease can lead to organ failure, internal bleeding, and death. It is contracted from rat urine. The bacteria gets into the human body if you cut or scratch yourself. The symptoms range from fever, chills, headaches, cough, and vomiting.
Symptoms of Weil’s disease
Coughing up blood.
Swollen feet, hands, and ankles.
Symptoms of meningitis, headaches, vomiting, and seizures.
The Bubonic Plague
Bubonic plague, rats, and their fleas caused a worldwide pandemic, killing roughly 30 million people in the 14th century.
Symptoms of the Bubonic Plague
Swelling of lymph nodes.
A sewer rat
Awful as it sounds, it is possible for a sewer rat to come up through the toilet! Rats travel all over the sewer systems looking for food. Rats are good swimmers and can work their way through waste pipes to the toilet. Thankfully the chances of this happening are rare.
If you see rats in your toilet, quickly put the lid down and place a large object on top to keep the rat there. Chances are it will drown; if not, call in a pest control expert to remove it.
The tip of the day to prevent rats in the toilet is to keep the toilet lid down at all times!
How to get rid of rats using natural rat control methods
Here are some natural DIY methods to try to get rid of rats without using toxic poison or bait traps.
Rats have an excellent sense of taste and smell, and the smell of eucalyptus oil is awful to them. This makes eucalyptus a superb rodent control repellent.
Mix about 20 drops of the eucalyptus oil with two cups of water and spray around the areas you have found rats have visited, and pay particular attention to entry points the rodents are using to get into the house. Repeat after two days, as the oil scent will wear off, and it will not bother the rats anymore.
There is no scientific evidence that black pepper works. However, so many people use it for breaking up animal fights it is worth a try.
Sprinkle crushed black pepper to get rid of rats near the entry points, along walls of the property, near droppings, and anywhere you have found evidence of rats and mice.
Peppermint oil has been known to cause allergic reactions in humans, so use it with care. Maybe it has the same effect on mice and rats. It can be effective, so worth a try.
Mix up the oil, 20 drops, with 2 cups of water, in a spray bottle. Spray in the areas with known evidence of rats and mice. The scent will wear off, so reapply in 3 days’ time or sooner if you cannot smell it.
To get rid of rats fast: Mix small amounts of baking soda with sugar, the rats eat it, and the baking soda reacts with the rats’ stomach acids killing a Norway rat.
For the easiest way to get rid of rats fast, it is essential that you purchase the right size snap trap to control a rat problem. If you purchase mouse snap traps, they are designed for small rodents, and they will not be large enough to kill rats.
These are the old school type of mousetrap; think Tom and Jerry, a spring-loaded bar that traps the body of mice or rats when they touch it whilst trying to eat the bait. These types of rat traps will kill rats within a short space of time.
Norway rats are constantly looking for food sources, so bait the traps with tasty food items like cheese spread or peanut butter, and smear it on the trigger of the trap so that the rodent has to lick the trigger, which will set off the snap trap.
Norway rats have poor eyesight, so they run along walls. For rat control, place the loaded rat traps against walls or baseboards where rats run. You could cover them with a milk crate if you are worried about other animals getting to the traps.
Check the rat traps regularly for dead rats. You can dispose of the dead rat and trap together, or remove the dead rat and re-use the rat trap. Always wear gloves when setting traps and handling rat traps and dead rats.
Glue traps are not a pleasant method to trap a mouse or rat. This method of pest control involves a sticky glue that the rats gets stuck on, and the more the rat struggles, the more the rat will get stuck.
The rat, during this time, will struggle and try to escape the trap. The rat, in trying to get free, will become tired and die from exhaustion and starvation. These traps do not kill immediately; you may even have to kill the rodent yourself to put it out of its misery.
If you use glue traps, place them near signs of pellet-shaped droppings from the rat problem or oil marks on walls, baseboards, access points, or gaps. Don’t forget to check the glue traps for dead rats.
The Electronic Trap
This form of rat control trap will kill a roof rat with a high-voltage shock. The trap is baited with food at the end of it, and when the rat enters and steps on the very sensitive metal plate, the rat gets a shock that will kill it immediately. This form of trap does not have enough power to hurt children or large cats and dogs. Check the electronic trap often for dead rats.
Whether you choose a professional or DIY to get rid of rat populations, it needs to be dealt with quickly. Rats breed fast; before you know it, a few rats turn into scores of them running around the property. You can get rid of rats in the home using various methods of pest control, which we will talk about in the next section.
If you should find the rat infestation problem has not been solved in the home using bait traps, or rat poison, it may be time to call a professional pest control company to your home to deal with the rodent problems.
How to get rid of rats with poison
Rat poisons are also known as a rodenticide, which is a bait the rats eat; a lethal dose is given, causing them to die slowly; sometimes, it can take up to 3 days for the rat bait to kill rats. Other rats will follow and feed on the poison. Some fast-acting poisons can kill rats overnight. They often have anticoagulants in them, which prevents the rats’ blood from clotting.
A company will make rat baits brightly colored and sweet-tasting to attract rats to it. When placing bait in the home, keep an eye on how much you have put down. They are toxic not only for rats but pets also, so keep pets and children well away from the bait.
The downside for you as a homeowner is that when you prevent rats with rat baits, the Norway rat will go off to die in its nest, making it harder to find. You might find dead rats behind the stove, refrigerator, behind cabinets, or in the attic. Make sure you keep regular checks on the property.
When using rat control outside of the home, you need to think about non-target animals, as there is a risk they might eat the rat poison. Again, keep your pet and children well away from the rodenticide in the yard.
The rat poison will cause internal bleeding, trouble breathing, oral and nasal bleeding, and coma to a pet or child if eaten. Seek urgent medical attention if poison baits have been ingested, and take your pet to a vet to avoid complications.
How to get rid of rats with Bait stations
To prevent accidental poisoning, you could use tamper-proof bait stations. They hold the poison baits in place and keep children and pets out. It is national law to use tamper-resistant bait stations for a rat problem if children and pets are present.
The bait stations can be used together or separately from other rat removal methods.
Catch and release bait stations
You can purchase a bait station trap for controlling rats that does not kill rats and release the rat without harming the rat inside. Place fruits and nuts to attract rats and leave the trap to work. Check for rats inside often and release them in rural areas.
How to get rid of rats for good
Now you have managed to get rid of rats, you need to look at preventing another rat infestation. You cannot get rid of rats completely in the garden, as these rats are free-roaming animals, but you can prevent rats with good rodent control and sanitation and stop rats from getting into your home.
Remove all Food sources
To control rats in the home, start by removing ALL food sources. A food source is what will attract the rats in the first place, and they will eat various food types. Put food away in the fridge or store it in metal containers.
Do not leave pet food out for a long time it can attract roof rats. Wash the pet food bowl, put it away, and wipe the area the bowl was in to clean up any food spills of cat and dog food.
Keep rat populations away by storing food for animals correctly. If you keep rabbits or chickens or any other animals, for example, storing food like bird seed, grass seed, and rabbit food for them will attract rats. Store food for animals away in the garden shed in a metal container or bin.
Rats are attracted to food scraps and waste. Ensure it is disposed of correctly in secure trash cans, and ensure the trash is collected and emptied regularly. Trash cans overflowing with trash will be a rat’s dream. In the home, keep trash cans closed. Leftover food should be put outside in the garden as soon as possible. Try not to waste food if you can.
Clear trash piled up near buildings; this will expose burrows and openings the rats may be using.
Make a thorough search of your property for clutter. Rats love nothing better than piles of clothes to get under and other messy rooms to nest in, hide and chew in. Getting rid of this clutter will help prevent another infestation.
Remove nesting material like cardboard boxes, newspapers, and old insulation.
Tidy the Yard
In the yard, clear up debris and any branches that have fallen down. Piles of leaves should be removed from the yard and put in the plant waste bin. If you do not, rodents may make them into a home or hiding place.
Do you have ivy in the garden? If so, remove it, as the ivy will give cover and nesting areas for rats to hide in. The same goes for long grass in the garden. Keep the grass in your garden cut short.
Remove pet poop from the yard rats have been known to eat it. Keep the yard clear of standing water, as rats will seek out water to drink.
Search outside your house and garden for ways the rats and other pests can access your home. Steel wool, caulk metal kick plates, or cement can be used in holes, gaps, and around electrics. Rats will make their gums sore trying to chew it and will give up.
Silicone caulk can be used to prevent rodent infestations around holes, gaps, and cracks. Caulk will seal them off, and rats do not like the taste of it at all. Check any vents, and damaged drains around the home, as these can provide entry gaps for a rat to get into.
Small holes can give access to rats, as they can squeeze through very small gaps, so be sure to block them off to prevent the rats from getting in and nesting.
Some animals, including humans, do not like high-pitched sounds. You can purchase a device from hardware stores and online that gives off a high-pitched sound for reducing rat populations.
We hope you have found this article on ‘How to get rid of rats’ helpful in dealing with rat removal. Rat infestations are very unhealthy. During and after the rat infestation, be sure to clean down surfaces in your home with disinfectant and wash your hands well regularly.
Should you have any questions, please drop us an email. We do our best to respond as quickly as possible.
Hope you stay rat-free!
Ronald has 25 years of pest control experience under his belt. He scrutinizes each pest control method, product and process. Each pest resource we list on our website goes through an in-depth fact checking process.