Best Ways to Get Rid of Rats (2022)

Rats in the home can cause a great deal ofdamage, contaminate food, and carry disease. Unfortunately, you may not know you have a rat problem until it's already out of control. Here are three ways to get rid of rats.

Best Ways to Get Rid of Rats (1)

3 Ways to Get Rid of Rats

The two most common rat pests in North America are the roof rat and Norway rat. Roof rats are relatively small, weighing between five and nine ounces, and have slender bodies and smooth gray coats. They can also be identified by their pointed snouts and large ears with no hair. Norway rats weigh between 12 and 19 ounces, have shaggy brown coats, blunt snouts, thick bodies, and short ears with dark hair.

Killing and trapping rats are much like controlling mice but on a larger scale. Traps are commonly used and are generally effective if you don't just set and forget them. Because they are designed to kill and/or capture the pest, rat traps must be regularly inspected, as a dead or dying rat or a food bait can attract secondary insects and cause an infestation. Rat traps should be set where rat signs are seen and in out-of-the-way, hidden areas, especially in attics or basements and near food sources. Rat traps are much larger and more dangerous than mousetraps. Always take care to keep traps away from potential triggering by children or pets.

Snap Traps

Rat-sized wooden or plastic traps can be very effective for killing rats and are the least expensive option. When using a snap trap to capture a rat, be sure to use a larger trap labeled for rat control. The small mouse traps are not likely to kill or hold the rat, and could, instead, inhumanely injure the rodent.

Warning

It is important that all traps be placed where they will not be disturbed by children or pets, and that they are protected against accidental contact. Rat traps are powerful and can cause serious injury, especially to a child or pet.

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​​Live Traps

Live traps use the rodents' natural tendency to investigate and wiggle into holes. In these traps, the rodent can get in but cannot get out. This is often accomplished through a wind-up mechanism triggered by touch. When the rodent goes into the hole, the mechanism snaps it to the other side of the trap where it is captured.These traps must be regularly inspected and emptied, as needed. In addition, once captured, the rodent must be humanely killed or released where it won't reenter the home or building or be of harm to others.

Bait Stations

Bait stations are self-contained, enclosed devices containing an approved type of rodenticide in block or paste form. Pellets and other loose forms of rodenticide are not approved for consumer use, due to the risk of accidental poisoning of children and pets. The station does not trap the rat. Instead, it contains a rodenticide that lures the rodent into the entrance of the station. The rat enters, eats some of the bait, and leaves through the station's exit hole, then it dies (hopefully outdoors away from the house, but this is not always the case). The bait is entirely contained inside the station so it is protected against accidental contact or ingestion by children or non-target animals. There are refillable and non-refillable stations, and stations must be sold with a rodenticide in the package; you cannot buy it separately.

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    Best Ways to Get Rid of Rats (2)

    Signs of Rats

    Signs of rat presence include:

    • Live or dead rats
    • Droppings, especially around human or pet food or in or around trash areas
    • Noises in the dark, such as scratching sounds from the attic
    • Nests or piled nesting materials in hidden areas
    • Evidence of gnawing of wires or structural wood
    • Burrows around the yard or under the home or outbuildings
    • Gnawed fruits in trees
    • Smudge marks along walls or rodent hairs along paths, in nests, or near food
    • Mousetraps that have snapped but with no sign of a mouse; rats can either set off the traps themselves (without getting caught in them), or they can eat the mice caught in the traps

    What Causes Rats?

    Rats are attracted to homes for the same reasons mice want their way in: food and shelter. They're always searching for a good place to hole up, and they always need something to eat. If you leave food (including human and pet food) readily available, rats will find it, and, worse, they'll want to stay. Like mice, rats like to stay in the shadows and typically enter a home through holes or cracks around the basement, foundation, or garage. Rats can fit through holes the size of a quarter, or slightly smaller than 1 inch. Roof rats lurk in high places and often enter homes via tree branches extending over roofs.

    Once nested in your home, rats grow in numbers by having babies. Rats may have several nests, and they form family units consisting of a male, multiple females, and any new babies. They can begin reproducing at three months of age and typically live for one year.

    How to Prevent Rats from Moving In

    The best way to prevent rats from becoming your roommates is to make your home uninviting and inhospitable. Holes and gaps in walls and along roof eaves are inviting. Plentiful sources of food and water are their favorite forms of hospitality. While you can't exactly rat-proof your home (they're very clever, persistent, and physically adept), you can make your home less inviting by sealing holes, cracks, gaps, and other potential entrances in exterior walls, soffits, roof vents, chimneys—any element that leads to a place of shelter. Use expanding spray foam to fill small gaps, and patch large holes with galvanized hardware cloth, plywood, cement board, siding, or other exterior-rated material. Another easy entrance to a home is damaged or missing crawlspace and attic vents; cover these with hardware cloth.

    Tidy your home's exterior by removing leave or debris piles, especially those near the house, and keeping all garbage in covered cans. Cut back tree limbs away from the roof and exterior walls. Keep stacks of firewood away from the house.

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    Remove potential food and water sources for rats by keeping pet food in sealed containers, repairing leaky outdoor faucets, eliminating puddled water (which also breeds mosquitoes), and keeping the house clean. Store food in covered bins if it's not out in the open or in the refrigerator. Long-term storage caches of food are prime targets for rats.

    Best Ways to Get Rid of Rats (3)

    FAQ

    FAQs

    What scent will keep rats away? ›

    You can repel rats from your home and garden with scents they dislike, such as clover, garlic, onion, hot peppers containing capsaicin, house ammonia, used coffee grounds, peppermint, eucalyptus, predator (cat) scent, white vinegar, and citronella oil.

    How can I get rid of rats fast at home? ›

    All you need to do is mix 2 – 2 and a half cups of ammonia, 100 – 200 mL of water and a 2-3 spoonful of detergent in a bowl. Then, put it to places where rats are usually seen. The smell of ammonia is very pungent that it instantly kills rats.

    What is the best thing to keep rats away? ›

    This makes peppermint oil, chili powder, citronella, and eucalyptus the most common natural rodent repellents. Chemical smells, such as ammonia, bleach, and mothballs also work as mice deterrents.

    How long does it take to get rid of rats? ›

    It generally takes roughly 3 days to one week to get rid of rats with rat poison. Mechanical traps can sometimes take a few days to trap rats because the rodents may be wary of the trap. A pest control professional can remove rats in as little as one day to a few days depending on the size of the infestation.

    How do you keep rats away permanently? ›

    Here are eight steps you can take to keep these rodents out of your home and away for good:
    1. Fill holes, cracks and gaps. ...
    2. Don't feed them. ...
    3. Remove their habitat. ...
    4. Trim trees, shrubs and limbs back four feet from your home. ...
    5. Set traps inside. ...
    6. Use baits and poisons outside. ...
    7. Check your neighborhood. ...
    8. Call the pros.
    25 Feb 2014

    Will rats leave on their own? ›

    No. Rats need a continuous source of food. If there is no food source then the rats will move on.

    What food is poisonous to rats? ›

    Toxic foods are poisonous to rats and should be completely avoided.
    • Avocado skin and pit.
    • Chocolate.
    • Citrus fruits (causes kidney damage)
    • Mango (causes kidney damage)
    • Green potato.
    • Fluorinated and/or Chlorinated Water (use only filtered water, never tap water)
    • Green bananas.
    • Uncooked/dried beans (contains toxic hemaglutin)

    Does one rat mean more? ›

    Rats are social animals, so if you see one rat then there are likely to be more nearby. Rats have the ability to jump around three feet into the air, four feet horizontally and can fall from a height of up to 50 feet without getting injured.

    What keeps rats away at night? ›

    Place peppermint oil, cayenne pepper, pepper and cloves around the home to keep them away. Sprinkle crushed pepper, or spray a pepper spray, near openings and holes.

    What does baking soda do to rats? ›

    It turns out that baking soda catalyzes some form of reaction inside the rat's stomach. Baking soda combines with the stomach acids to produce carbon dioxide gas which rats are unable to tolerate. In turn, it builds up within their system and eventually causes internal blockage and rupture.

    What are rats afraid of? ›

    Rats are afraid of human activity, mostly because humans are so much larger than they are. Rats also fear predators such as hawks, eagles, and other birds of prey. Other animals that rats are afraid of include your cat as well as rat terriers and other dogs that hunt rodents.

    What time do rats come out at night? ›

     Rats and mice are nocturnal with most activity taking place between approximately one half hour after sunset to about one half hour before sunrise.

    How do you know if all rats are gone? ›

    Wooden furniture has been gnawed. Holes have been chewed through walls and floors. There's a strange stale smell you can't explain. This is especially likely to occur in areas of the home you don't use very often.

    Why is it hard to get rid of rats? ›

    Known as intelligent pests, they have excellent memories are very adaptive to urban environment. As they are neophobic, they turn suspicious on new things such as traps, baits and control tools. Thus, its requires time and diligent efforts to gain control effect.

    What attracts rats to your house? ›

    There are two main things that can attract mice and rats to your house – food and shelter. If you don't tidy up properly and there's food waste on the floor or surfaces, rodents are going to love it! Rats and mice also need shelter, particularly during winter to avoid the worst of the cold.

    What happens if you disturb a rats nest? ›

    What happens if you disturb a rat's nest? If you find a nest, it is important not to disturb it. Rats can be aggressive when provoked and the pathogens that they carry can easily be transmitted to you through the air even if you do not touch the nest.

    Will rats return to the same place? ›

    Animals will always return to somewhere they know they can find food and shelter, unless there is a better alternative. Therefore, when disposing of a mouse or rat, you need to take them at least a couple of miles away, or they will find their way back.

    Can rats climb walls? ›

    Both rats and mice are good climbers and can climb vertical walls and "shimmy" up between walls and drain pipes. Rats are also excellent swimmers and have been known to enter premises through the water traps of the toilet bowl when infestations occur in the main sewerage system.

    What noises do rats hate? ›

    They hate the sound of ultrasonic rodent repellent devices, which is usually in the range of 22 kHz to 35 kHz. The sound of these ultrasonic rodent repellers may it extremely irritating for these filthy creatures.

    How can you tell how many rats are in your house? ›

    This can be done by looking for: Amount of droppings: Small, brown droppings that are shaped like grains of rice are a great indicator you have a rat problem. The more rat droppings your find, the higher the number of rats in your home.

    What time are rats most active? ›

    Playtime & Exercise – Rats are nocturnal, or most active at nighttime. Since rats are very social creatures, most of their activity and playtime will be at night. One thing to note on these social creatures: they tend to live in packs of various sizes – so where there is one, there will many more!

    Where do rats go during the day? ›

    Most sightings of rats during the daylight hours are usually in gardens or other outdoor areas. Rats may be just traveling from one garden to another but rats are opportunistic. Gardens and yards contain food sources such as vegetables, plus nut and fruit trees.

    Why do rats suddenly appear? ›

    Like food, mice and rats and always looking for a supply of water and many homes unwittingly provide the perfect source. Dripping pipes, pet bowls of water, leaking sprinklers and other sources of water attracts these rodents into your home. They are also attracted to outside fountains and birdbaths.

    What can rats not chew through? ›

    Hard Metals – Since rats can't chew through hard metals like steel, it's one of the reasons it's recommended that holes are filled with wire mesh and steel wool and then filled with caulking. Metal tiling is also a great way to prevent them from getting into your home from the floor.

    Will rats eat the poison? ›

    Rats need to eat the poison regularly each day in order to ingest sufficient quantities of rat poison to cause death.

    Do rats like coffee grounds? ›

    The answer to this question is yes, use coffee grounds as a natural rodent repellent. The coffee's bitter compounds are unpleasant to rats and mice. They will avoid areas where there is a coffee scent or use.

    What happens if you see a rat during the day? ›

    Rats are nocturnal animals, which means they are more active during the night, however, seeing them during daylight is something completely normal. As long as there isn't any activity of people and natural predators of the rats, the rodents would feel safe enough to go out on inspection in the garden in search of food.

    How common are rats in homes? ›

    (January 6, 2014) – According to a new survey by the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), rodents, the most common winter pest, have at one time or another been a problem for nearly one-third (29 percent) of Americans.

    What smell deters rats the most? ›

    Rats, mice and other rodents are repelled by many different smells. Here is a list of the most common ones that rats don't like: Peppermint oil Garlic Cayenne pepper Penny royal Bergamot Oil Cloves Mint Rosemary Lavender Cedar chips Ammonia Pine-sol Oranges Onion.

    What kind of smells does rats hate? ›

    It's proven that rats hate smells such as eucalyptus, peppermint and citronella oil, coffee grounds, predator smell and chili powder.

    What keeps rats away at night? ›

    Place peppermint oil, cayenne pepper, pepper and cloves around the home to keep them away. Sprinkle crushed pepper, or spray a pepper spray, near openings and holes.

    What does baking soda do to rats? ›

    It turns out that baking soda catalyzes some form of reaction inside the rat's stomach. Baking soda combines with the stomach acids to produce carbon dioxide gas which rats are unable to tolerate. In turn, it builds up within their system and eventually causes internal blockage and rupture.

    What are rats most afraid of? ›

    Rats are afraid of human activity, mostly because humans are so much larger than they are. Rats also fear predators such as hawks, eagles, and other birds of prey. Other animals that rats are afraid of include your cat as well as rat terriers and other dogs that hunt rodents.

    What happens if you disturb a rats nest? ›

    What happens if you disturb a rat's nest? If you find a nest, it is important not to disturb it. Rats can be aggressive when provoked and the pathogens that they carry can easily be transmitted to you through the air even if you do not touch the nest.

    Can rats climb walls? ›

    Both rats and mice are good climbers and can climb vertical walls and "shimmy" up between walls and drain pipes. Rats are also excellent swimmers and have been known to enter premises through the water traps of the toilet bowl when infestations occur in the main sewerage system.

    Do rats like the smell of bleach? ›

    Rats dislike the pungent smell of the bleach-like odour, just like us humans.

    Will vinegar get rid of rats? ›

    The spray is great for both deterrence and cleaning up after rats. By mixing vinegar and baking soda you can actually create a poison that will kill rats. As with any poison however, you have to be careful when you handle it, and when you apply it.

    What time are rats most active? ›

    Playtime & Exercise – Rats are nocturnal, or most active at nighttime. Since rats are very social creatures, most of their activity and playtime will be at night. One thing to note on these social creatures: they tend to live in packs of various sizes – so where there is one, there will many more!

    Will rats leave on their own? ›

    No. Rats need a continuous source of food. If there is no food source then the rats will move on.

    Where do rats go during the day? ›

    Most sightings of rats during the daylight hours are usually in gardens or other outdoor areas. Rats may be just traveling from one garden to another but rats are opportunistic. Gardens and yards contain food sources such as vegetables, plus nut and fruit trees.

    What do Coca Cola do to rats? ›

    In a new study, a team of researchers found that feeding rats soft drinks like Coke and Pepsi caused enough damage to the unfortunate critters' brains to trigger memory issues, cognitive impairment, and cellular distress. Of course, soda isn't exactly considered health food.

    What does salt do to rats? ›

    Rats cannot survive with more than 70 to 75 grams (0.16 lbs) of salt in their bodies. Any additional amount of salt can cause severe neurological problems such as muscle paralysis, deafness, blindness, and overall weakness. This is in addition to ailments like gastroenteritis and general inflammation of the system.

    How do you know if rats are gone? ›

    The first sign to look for is droppings. Rats will leave droppings in their old nest, so if you see droppings in a place where rats have never been before, it's likely that they are gone. Finally, you can use a special type of trap called an “exclusion trap” to see if rats have left your home.

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