How to get Rid of Rats - Expert Tips
In this article, we hope to give advice on all you need to know about how to get rid of a rat infestation. Should you spot rat droppings in the house or garden, foot and tail marks in the dust, or signs of wood being gnawed, it is time to get rid of them. You can either call a local professional who is trained in rat control and has access to poisons, etc, or you can take our advice and deal with the pests yourself. Whether you use bait traps or poison, we can help show you how to get rid of rats.
A rat likes to come out at night. You might hear them running around and squeaking during the night before you even notice other evidence.
If you have rats in the home or garden, 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! So we have to know how to get rid of rats and mice.
Let’s take a look at what we are up against
Image credit: IRRI Photos
Brown rats and roof rats are large rodents that can be 7 inches long, though roof rats may be slightly smaller than brown rats.
A roof rat or black rat is a common long-tailed rat that came originally from India. It is a serious pest problem for farmers of crops.
If you live in a house with trees near to it, keep the branches cut back away from the roof, as this will deter the roof 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.
Rats will gnaw everything from wood, plastic bags, wiring, and can even chew through tough material. All this gnawing causes damage to the house. They can even chew through electric cables, which can cause the blowing of fuses. Look out for signs of large chew marks around the house.
The 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 an infestation.
A rat can get through a gap as small as 20 mm.
Some people keep them as pets!
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 colour-blind, but their sense of smell, hearing, taste, and touch is excellent.
They can get through a gap as small as 7 mm.
Some people keep mice as pets also!
Do They Spread Disease?
Oh yes, they do spread a large number of diseases!
Rodents are linked to health risks. These animals are known to spread 35 different diseases, and can carry viruses and bacteria.
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 will appear within 12 – 72 hours.
Symptoms of Salmonella
- Abdominal cramps
Typhoid can be passed on to humans by rats in poorer countries where hygiene is not so good.
Symptoms of Typhoid
- High temperature.
- Aches and pains.
- A cough.
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 the wee of rats. 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
- Chest pain.
- Coughing up blood.
- Swollen feet, hands, and ankles.
- Symptoms of meningitis, headaches, vomiting, and seizures.
The Bubonic Plague
Bubonic plague, the rat, and its fleas caused a worldwide pandemic, killing roughly 25 million people in the 14th century.
Symptoms of the Bubonic Plague
- Swelling of lymph nodes.
All of these diseases are terrible, and not good for your health.
A sewer rat
Awful as it sounds, it is possible for a sewer rat to come up through the toilet! They travel all over the sewer system looking for food. They 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 one 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, and if not, call in an expert to remove it.
The tip of the day 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 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 it a really good repellent.
Mix about 20 drops of the 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 2 days, as the oil scent will wear off and it will not bother the rat anymore.
There is no scientific evidence that this works, however, so many people use it for breaking up animal fights it is worth a try.
Sprinkle the 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 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.
These are the old school mousetrap, 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 pest control traps will kill the mouse or rat. They are looking constantly for food sources, so bait the traps with tasty food like cheese spread or peanut butter, smear it on the trigger of the trap so that the rodent has to lick the trigger, which will set off the trap.
These pest control traps can be found in most local hardware shops. Make sure you buy the right size snap trap, due to the difference in the size of a mouse and a rat. A mousetrap will not hold a rat; it would be too small.
Glue traps are not a pleasant method to trap a mouse or rat. This form of pest control involves a sticky glue that the rodent gets stuck on, and the more the rodent struggles the more the rodent will get stuck.
The rodent during this time will scream and cry out while trying to get free from the trap. The rodent in trying to get free will become tired and die from exhaustion and starvation. These traps do not kill immediately, and you may have to kill the rodent yourself to put it out of its misery.
If you use glue traps, place them near signs of droppings from the animals, or oil marks on walls, access points, or holes.
The Electronic Trap
This trap will kill a rat with a high voltage shock. It is baited with food at the end of it, and when the rat enters and steps on the sensitive metal plate, it gets a shock that will kill it straight away. This form of trap does not have enough power to hurt children or large cats and dogs.
Whether you choose a professional or DIY to get rid of rat infestations, it needs to be dealt with quickly. They breed fast, and before you know it there are 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.
Should you find the infestation problem has not been solved in the home using bait traps, or rat poison, it may be time to call a pest control professional to your home to deal with the rats.
How to get rid of rats with poison
Rat poisons are also known as a rodenticide, which is a bait the pests eat, causing them to die slowly, sometimes up to 3 days. Some fast-acting poison can kill overnight. They often have anticoagulants in them which prevents the rats blood from clotting.
A company will make a rodenticide brightly coloured and sweet-tasting to attract rodents to it. When placing bait in the home, keep an eye on how much you have put down. They are poison not only for rodents but pets also, so keep pets and children well away from the bait.
The downside for you as a homeowner is that the rat will go off to die in its nest, making it harder to find.
When using 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 garden.
The rat poison will cause internal bleeding, trouble breathing, oral and nasal bleeding, and coma to a pet if eaten. Take your pet to a vet to avoid complications. The symptoms in humans are the same; seek urgent medical attention if ingested.
How to get rid of rats for good
Now you have managed to get rid of rats, you need to look at the prevention of another infestation. You cannot get rid of them completely in the garden, as these rodents are free-roaming animals, but you can prevent them from getting into your home.
Start by removing food sources. Food 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.
If you keep rabbits or chickens or any other animals, for example, the food you store for them will attract rats. Keep it stored away in the garden shed in a metal container or bin.
Rats are attracted to food waste. Ensure it is disposed of correctly in secure bins, and make sure the bin is collected and emptied regularly. Bins overflowing with rubbish will be a rat’s dream. In the home, keep bins closed. Leftover food should be put outside in the garden as soon as possible. Try not to waste food if you can.
Make a good 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.
Tidy the Garden
In the garden, clear up debris and any branches that have fallen down. Piles of leaves should be removed from the garden 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.
Search outside your house and garden for ways these pests can access your home. Steel wool 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 around holes, gaps, and cracks. It will seal them off, and rats do not like the taste of it at all. Check any vents 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 crawl 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 buy a device that gives off a high-pitched sound.
We hope you have found this article on how to get rid of rats helpful in dealing with infestations. Rat infestations are not healthy. 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 pest-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.