Want to know how to get rid of rats? Then you’ve come to the right place. We’ll cover basic methods and tested strategies to help you beat the rats faster: trapping, repelling, and poisoning. Read further to choose wisely.
The idea of making this website was born over the cup of morning coffee when I and my husband were enjoying the last sunny days of August in a little gazebo in front of our new house in the suburbs.
We were almost 32 days in our new adventure of catching all the rats that invaded our pristine and quiet household. I never knew that the quest of getting rid of the annoying critters would take us so long. If not for my background in biology and my dear husband’s help it might have taken us even longer.
So I decided why not help others as well? The rat hunt can be pretty exhausting and discouraging at first, and you might be tempted to resort to some inhumane and terrible methods, but I assure you that you don’t have to.
Here I’ll cover the basic tactics and methods that helped me and my family in our quest of eliminating annoying pests. To learn more about each method, please, follow the links included in this text and just click on any section of this website which seems interesting and helpful to you.
How dangerous are rats?
Rats are dangerous: they can carry serious viruses and other deadly pathogens that can result in fatal diseases in humans and other animals. CDC has outlined diseases directly transmitted by rodents; among them are lassa and rat-bite fever, plague, salmonellosis, etc.
Rats can become extremely dangerous if you have babies in your household: rats are attracted to the smell of milk, and they can jump to the baby’s crib in search for food.
Some rat facts you should know
- Rat’s incisor teeth would grow 4 inches a year if left untouched, so they rats chew on anything to wear their incisors down. Tip: Install metal doors to prevent rats from gnawing its way into your household.
- Rat’s life expectancy is about 9 to 12 months, although some may live as long as 3 years.
- They are good swimmers and jumpers. Tip: Make sure rats won’t have an opportunity to jump into your baby’s crib.
- They are nocturnal creatures, so they travel and scavenge for food at night. Tip: Check for dead rats in the early morning the next day you place the traps.
- A pair of brown rats can produce up to 2000 offspring per year. Tip: Right from the start try to target a large population of rats, stack up with dozens of traps, so you eradicate a massive portion of the colony’s breeding population.
An insight to the rat’s psychology: 7 rules you should follow to beat the rats faster
- As soon as a rat discovers a safe path, it will travel that path many times and will leave its feces to communicate to others that the path is safe. Tip: If you see characteristic droppings along the wall, then this is the perfect spot to put a snap trap.
- Because of a poor vision, a rat places its body against the wall or any other object for guidance. Tip: Put the traps exactly along the wall so the rat won’t miss it or doesn’t have a chance to avoid it.
- They are extremely cautious of anything new. Tip: Leave the traps unset for a couple of nights for rats to become accustomed to them and presume them as safe objects and only then set the traps.
- If the rat figures out that other rats are dying, it will become cautious and trap shy. Tip: place as many traps as you can the time you to decide to set the baited traps and kill as many rats as possible, so they won’t be able to “communicate” the danger to other rats.
- There are alpha and beta rats in the colony. Usually the first ones to die are beta rats. Tip: switch to other methods to eradicate alpha rats if the method of your first choice stops working.
- Rats prefer places where they can hide. Tip: consider putting a baited trap inside a DIY tunnel (of cardboard box, for example) simulating a cozy and safe environment.
- Rats like messy places with lots of leftover food, scattering sawdust, garbage in plastic bags etc. Tip: Clean up! Remove the garbage, stack up on metal containers with tight lids and never leave your pet foodstuff on the floor after use.
Most effective methods according to biologists
The scientists unanimously agree that the most effective methods are taking prevention and sanitation steps, trapping, and poisoning. We’ll cover each of these methods in detail further on.
Trapping: Types of rat traps and their effectiveness
Few can deny the importance and effectiveness of trapping; it has been used for centuries. Besides, snap trapping is one of the most humane methods of tackling the rat invasion. Let me get this straight, humane killing means that the animal is killed almost instantaneously without causing unnecessary suffering (a well designed trap kills a rat within 30 seconds). Providing the animal is not trapped by the limb or severely injured but survives, snap trapping almost always guarantees an instantaneous or almost instantaneous death. On the downside, though, you have to clean up all the mess after the killing takes place.
Let’s cover three basic traps that are available on the market right now.
Victor Easy Set Rat Trap is an example of an old time classic snap trap, although modernized by an addition of cheese flavor that serves a baiting purpose.
The mechanics of snap traps are pretty straightforward: place it along the rats’ path and wait for results: as soon as the rat touches the baiting pad, the mechanism is triggered and the trap snaps. The rat (provided it’s not injured by a limb) will die instantly.
Traps such as these do not cost much, but you will have to buy plenty (at least a dozen).
Electronic rat trap kills a rat with a high-voltage and deadly electric shock. One of the examples of such a trap is Electronic Rodent Exterminator that utilizes advanced rodent detection technology and emits 7000V electric shock ensuring the rat dies instantly.
One of the advantages of electronic traps is that you don’t have to clean up a mess after a dead rat: open the trap and slide the dead rat’s body into the trash can. Easy!
Unfortunately, though, if you have a large rat colony, electronic traps won’t help you, unless you buy a dozen or so. Most of them can’t be used outdoors either.
If you think rats are cute or just don’t feel like killing anyone, consider investing in a live cage. Humane live traps, such as the Humane Rat Trap, all work practically the same: place your bait inside the cage, and as soon as the rat goes in, the trap closes by itself.
While this option might seem very humane, it is not entirely so:
- You need to regularly check the trap to ensure the trapped rat doesn’t die suffering.
- Some cheap traps are badly designed and a rat can get injured when the trap closes, and will eventually die suffering.
- If you decide to release the rat, you have to do so far away from your premises. In fact there are strict regulations as to where and how to release the trapped animals. So you have to follow the laws of your state.
- If you decide to kill the trapped rat, then, please, do so humanely: deliver the strong and precise deadly blow to the head to ensure the quick death.
Glue traps, such as Snake and Rat Baited Trap, are often covered in viscous glue for the rat to stick to and slowly die.
Glue traps are considered inhumane: a trapped animal dies suffering. Other disadvantages include: rats can escape even if injured; if you discover a trapped rat still alive, you will still have to finish the job by killing it; glue boards might be a pain in the neck if you have pets or small kids running around your house – while it’s not dangerous, pets and kids can still get stuck in the glue.
What type of rat trap is best?
You never fail with going retro: choose the old time classic rat trap snaps, a foolproof option for those in doubt. I personally used a few methods to eliminate the rats in my house, and one of those was using snap traps.
If still hesitant about which option will work best for you, consider the following factors:
- If you have a large colony of rats, then buying a dozen of electronic rat traps can cost you dearly, so go for regular snap traps. But if you have mice and rats here and there, then consider investing in electronic or live traps.
- If you prefer to stay away from killing, then go for a live cage.
- If you don’t like to clean the bloody mess after use, then consider buying electronic traps.
Where should I put the rat trap?
While I’ve outlined basic guidance on where to best place rat traps earlier in the article, I’ll repeat the main key point for the sake of better understanding rats’ behavior: since rats communicate with each other through their excrements, wherever you see characteristic droppings of feces and stains of rat urine, place the trap there.
However, it’s also important to understand which exact species have invaded your household to choose the most effective strategies to eliminate them.
There are two main types of rats in the United States: Norway rats and roof rats.
- Norway rats are typical sturdy brown rats that are larger than roof rats. They nest along the building foundations and near wet areas in gardens and crop fields. If your house is invaded with this type of rat, then look for their nests in the basement.
- Roof rats are smaller and thinner than Norway rats. They are super climbers and often live above the ground in bushes and trees. If you believe you have pattering sounds above your head, then your house might be invaded with this type of rat. Roof rats in buildings occupy attics, walls, and false ceilings.
The bad news is your house can be invaded with both. The good news is two species don’t get along and can’t interbreed.
University of California researchers recommend the following placement rules:
Placement for Norway rats
Place in the basement and in the garden near moisture. Norway rats are omnivores, meaning they eat everything: from cereal and fruits to meat and fish. Consider bacon for baiting Norway rats.
Placement for Roof rats
Place in the attic, in cabinets, if possible under the false ceilings, along the walls on the 2nd and 3rd floors, if any. Roof rats also thrive in gardens, so don’t forget to place traps there as well. While roof rats can occasionally gorge on a snail or slug, they usually prefer fruits, nuts, and berries. So consider baiting them with peanut butter.
What are the best baits for rat traps?
Foods with enhanced levels of sugar/salt and fat/oil are considered good rat trap baits. Think of small size baiting for roof traps, and a slightly larger for Norway. Remember, that rats are shy of any new objects, so put the bait inside the unset trap for a rat to get accustomed to the trap first.
Examples of good baits: Peanut butter, bacon, nuts, chocolate, cheese, cereal.
How effective are rat traps?
The rat traps are more effective than repellents and as effective as rat poisons.
The latter, aka rodenticides, contain dangerous chemicals that cause a painful death from either internal bleeding or brain swelling. Rat poison is not recommended for the risk of secondary poisoning (another mammal or a bird, if accidentally exposed to it, can die the same painful death), as well as because of the harmful properties of chemicals that endanger biodiversity and can contaminate soil and water.
So don’t you worry: go for snap traps and buy a dozen.
Rat poison (rodenticide) is a chemical or a combination of chemicals that kill a rodent. There are three types of rat poison: first-generation anticoagulants, second generation and non-anticoagulants.
Both first and second generation anticoagulants make a rat die from internal bleeding, whereas the non-anticoagulant damages the central nervous system.
Second generation anticoagulant and non-anticoagulants are considered fast poisons, they kill after a single dose, however, death can be delayed up to day 4.
First generation poisons, such as All Weather Bait Chunx, require multiple feeding; rats have to gorge on poison for a while before eventually dying.
All types of poison are extremely toxic and can become lethal in case of accidental exposure by humans, other mammals and birds.
In case you decide to use poison, make sure you follow the instructions carefully, and if you suspect someone in your household has been inadvertently exposed to it, call 911 immediately.
While botanicals have been used for centuries as disinfectants, insect and rodent repellents, and odor eliminators, there is still little evidence to confirm their effectiveness.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has exempted botanicals from registration and efficacy testing since they are relatively safe for the environment and humans, unless you are allergic to them.
There is no harm in trying them out as a preventative or sustaining measure, but if you have a large colony of rats living beside you, then these products won’t help.
If you still want to buy something natural, then consider investing in Peppermint Essential Oil. If it fails to repel any rats, you can still use it as an all purpose cleaner.
Repellents: an alternative to killing
Ultrasonic repellents are electrically powered devices that repel rats and other pests. EPA also doesn’t require their efficacy testing. Although, the device has questionable effectiveness, it worked for me beautifully (to be honest with you, I used other methods too, like snap traps, for example).
Ultrasonic repellers, such as Pest Venator, operate through emitting ultrasound waves that are unbearable for rats, but cannot be heard by humans, domestic animals, and birds.
Please, bear in mind that ultrasound can’t travel through walls and is absorbed by soft surfaces, so if you think the super duper expensive ultrasonic repellent that you’ve recently bought doesn’t seem to work, consider rearranging the furniture in your house and removing some old garbage (you have wanted to do that for ages anyway).
DIY, Exterminator or Pest Control?
Sealing up, removing all the garbage, fixing the leaky plumbing is not easy, and if you think you’ve finally had enough, then time to call wildlife exterminators. You can find the one near you in nationwide directories of wildlife trappers.
When exterminator is better than DIY?
- If you have inspected your house and think you’ve sealed all the openings and holes shut, but the rats just keep coming in.
- When you don’t even know where to look for the holes and openings.
- If you don’t know how exactly to seal the cracks and holes.
- If you don’t know where to place the traps or your traps doesn’t seem to catch any rats.
- If you tried “everything”, but rats are still nibbling on your cat’s whiskas.
- When you want to get rid of rats faster and forever.
Also, consider this: various animal welfare organizations (and vegans for that matter) insist on the humane killing of any pests. So if you are not sure if you can kill rats as humanely as possible without putting in danger you pets, kids, and neighbors, then time to call pest control.
Prevention and sanitation
The most important steps in your rat fight are prevention and sanitation. If you follow the instructions below, trust me, the success is guaranteed.
- Remove all the garbage, do not keep trash bags overnight inside your house, always keep trash in a tightly sealed metal containers.
- Keep foodstuff away from the floor, always remove pet food after use.
- Keep food in secure closed plastic or metal containers.
- Seal your house shut. Inspect your house for gaps, breakage, cracks, and holes. Look for ways rats can get into your house and eliminate those places by sealing up!
- Clean up the debris around your house; remove sawdust, logs, construction or other similar stuff away.
- Do not feed birds.
Summary of the 5 Best Ways to Get Rid of Rats
- Whether you decide to get rid of rats yourself or hire a pest control agency, whether you opt for poison or old time trapping, all of these methods won’t work unless you invest your time and energy in cleaning and sealing up your premises as outlined in the instructions above.
- Removing the garbage and cleaning out debris around your house are crucial steps in your rat hunt: following them you’ll greatly reduce rats’ chances to find food and nest.
- After you’ve taken prevention and sanitation steps, stuck up with snap traps, buy an electronic repeller and use essential oils while cleaning your house. Just a few drops of peppermint oil in a bucket of water will draw rats away and make your house smell fresh and look crispy!
Now, let’s address one of the most common questions about how to get rid of rats from certain locations.
How to get rid of rats in a house?
Well, this is such a broad question, which I’ve been addressing all along above, but for the sake of simplicity and better understanding, let me repeat a couple of key points:
- Take prevention steps: seal up and clean up.
- Trap up.
- Use repellents if necessary.
- Always check for dead rats to prevent unpleasant decomposition smells.
- Go natural and eco-friendly to sustain the rat free environment.
How to get rid of rats in an attic?
If there are rats in your attic, then you deal with the roof rat, which is an herbivore for the most part, so my advice is to place as many snap traps as you can with baiting like peanut butter and leave them unset for a while for the rats to gorge on baits without getting killed. After a short while set the traps on the established rat trails following the left rats’ feces, and bingo!
Then after you discover the dead rats’ bodies, dispose of them asap, clean the premises with a powerful disinfectant, like a diluted version of Vinegar Concentrate, ionize and purify the premises, if possible and if you can afford it, with an air sanitizer, such as Home Air Cleaner Full Air Purifier, or any other you can find. And use a rats’ repellent afterwards to prevent rats from coming back. I personally use Pest Venator, it’s cheap and effective, so why pay more?
How to get rid of rats in a yard (outside)?
If you have rats in your yard or garden, then you might be dealing with both types of most prevalent types of rats, namely Norway and roof rats. They both can live outdoors; although one thrives on trees and dense vegetation, while the other prefers the ground area near water.
Since these rats are omnivores, then choose cheese, peanut butter, and bacon as your primary baits.
Obviously you can’t use electronic indoor repellents outdoors, as well as electronic snap traps that are not 100% waterproof, so check the instructions for reference.
How to get rid of roof rats?
Roof rats are agile climbers and jumpers. They usually live upstairs, like in the attic, the 2nd and 3rd floors in a household, as well as thrive in dense vegetation in gardens and yards.
The most effective methods can be installing a dozen of snap traps, like Victor Easy Set Rat Trap, or any other variant of classic spring traps, using ultrasonic repellents, like Pest Venator, and cleaning the premises on a daily basis with Stain and Odor Eliminator Spray or any other cleaning detergent.
How to get rid of rats in a car engine?
I recommend using one of those Under the Hood Electronic Rat Repellents that are easy to install and quite effective against the rats.
How to get rid of rats in walls?
Getting rid of rats in walls might be one of the greatest challenges in your rat hunt.
Unfortunately, it is very difficult to determine where exactly in the wall is the rat’s nest. As soon as you think you’ve found a particular possible location, you will have to cut a hole open to access it. It might be a pain in the neck if you try to do it yourself. So think of hiring a professional wildlife exterminator to help you.
Also, if you presume a rat has died inside one of your walls, and you don’t want to cut any holes in it, then you would have to wait until it totally decomposes and the rancid smell dies down, which can take up to a month, or more.
And while you wait, consider investing in an air ionizer, like 3-1 Air Purifier, to try and get rid of a foul smell.
How to get rid of rats in a garage?
If you have any openings in your garage, install the traps there. More importantly, try to seal any openings and holes up. Or use electronic repellent as a preventative or supporting measure.
How to get rid of rats in a basement?
If you are dealing with rats in the basement, then most probably your house is invaded by Norway rats, which are omnivores, meaning the best baits are bacon and other processed meat. Install the snap traps around your basement and seal the holes and openings shut to prevent further access.
How to get rid of rats in a chicken coop?
Rat poison is not an option here at all. Snap traps can accidentally catch a chicken or hen, so I’d go for an ultrasonic repellent as a safest option. If you have a socket in your coop, then consider investing in Pest Venator, and if you don’t, then use any kind that is battery operated.
How to get rid of rats in a restaurant?
Ultrasonic repellents might not be a great option, since you don’t want your customers see a crazy rat going nuts from an ultrasound while they enjoy their bursting with flavor Asian tempura-battered cod.
Consider going retro: install snap traps. Invest in good cleaning services or hire a professional wildlife exterminator.
How to get rid of a rat nest?
FAQ: other questions
How to get rid of rats without poison?
Choose snap traps, electronic repellents and remove all unnecessary garbage, especially from the basement, attic, yard, and garage.
How to get rid of rats without killing them?
Use electronic and natural repellents. Hire a professional wildlife exterminator to seal up your premises to prevent rats from getting in.
How to get rid of rats in sewer pipes?
Getting rid of rats in pipes can be difficult. If trapping didn’t work and poison doesn’t seem like a viable option, then hire a wildlife exterminator to do the job for you.
How to get rid of rats without harming other animals?
Do not use poison! Opt out for safer methods, like snap traps or repellents.