Eliminating Rats: Tips and Tricks

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Home Improvement

Rats are known for their intelligence, making them difficult to get rid of.

Rats are considered as either heroes or villains in the animal kingdom, depending on your perspective. These creatures possess remarkable survival skills and high intelligence, allowing them to thrive in different environments despite human efforts to eradicate them. Although domesticated rats make great pets, wild rats like the Norway and brown rats found in major cities can be a public health hazard.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, rats can carry and spread dozens of diseases globally. Direct contact with rodents can cause infections such as salmonellosis, Hantavirus, leptospirosis, and tularemia. Rats can also transmit diseases through ticks, fleas, and mites that feed on infected rats, causing diseases such as Lyme disease, West Nile virus, and typhus, among others.

Rat Abilities

Rats are notorious for rummaging through restaurants at night, contaminating food with bacteria and droppings. In rare cases, they may even attack humans and cause multiple bites. Their teeth grow continuously, up to 5 inches per year, causing damage and potential fire hazards by gnawing on almost anything, including electrical wiring in homes and vehicles, cinder blocks, and metal sheeting.

These creatures are excellent climbers, capable of squeezing through holes the size of a U.S. quarter, surviving falls of up to 50 feet, and swimming for days without drowning. In 2017, New York City launched a $32-million rat control campaign, but rat populations continue to grow due to longer breeding seasons caused by climate change.

Mike Deutsch, a medical entomologist and technical director of Arrow Exterminating Company in Lynbrook, New York, says that rats make their presence felt through “fecal droppings, urine stains, gnaw marks on materials, and the presence of live and dead rodents on or in the structure.” Homeowners may also notice behavioral changes in their pets, such as staring at walls or excitement when detecting rodents that humans cannot.

There’s no “magic bullet” for rat control. Rat exterminators use Integrated Pest Management (or IPM) to weigh mechanical, physical, cultural, and chemical control options to exterminate unwanted pests. However, it’s easier said than done.

According to Deutsch, rat control is a very difficult task that requires an understanding of the biology, behavior, and ecology of these animals in order to eliminate them effectively from a building. Rats are known to thrive in areas with high population densities and human waste, making cities like New York City, with easily accessible trash and old, deteriorating buildings, particularly susceptible to rat infestations.

However, there are some steps you can take to address the problem of rats. The first step is to make the rat habitat less desirable for feeding and nesting. Rats typically live within 400 feet (122 meters) of their primary food source, so reducing their ability to find food can discourage them from visiting your property. This involves using rat-resistant trash containers, storing pet food and birdseed in rat-proof containers, and picking up dog droppings daily. Additionally, removing tall grass, wood piles, and other junk from your yard can eliminate potential rat habitats.

To prevent rats from entering your home, it is important to seal gaps and holes with heavy-gauge screening or 1/4-inch (6-millimeter) hardware cloth. Copper mesh can also be used to fill tight spaces that may attract rats. Finally, it is important to keep tree branches and shrubs away from your home, as rats can climb them to gain access to your property.

If these measures are unsuccessful, traditional snap traps might be the best solution for getting rid of rats. Peanut butter is a better bait than cheese, and traps should be placed along walls or in areas where rat droppings have been found. It may take several days to catch a rat, and you may need to adjust your strategy multiple times. If all else fails, it is recommended to call a professional to ensure the job is done thoroughly.

It’s Insane

In nature, rats usually live up to 2-3 years. However, they are capable of breeding just three months after birth and can produce about six litters of approximately 12 offspring per year. This means that within a year, a single pair of rats can give rise to around 2,000 descendants. To put it differently, during their lifespan of three years, a pair of breeding rats can produce up to 6,000 offspring.


1. What are the signs of a rat infestation?

The signs of a rat infestation include droppings, gnaw marks, footprints, and scratching noises in walls or ceilings. Rats can also leave grease marks on walls and floors, as well as burrows or nests made from shredded materials such as paper or fabric.

2. How can I prevent rats from entering my home?

Prevent rats from entering your home by sealing all cracks and holes in your foundation, walls, and roof. Keep your home clean and free of clutter, and store food in airtight containers. Remove any sources of standing water and trim back any overgrown vegetation around your home.

3. What are some natural rat repellents?

Natural rat repellents include peppermint oil, garlic, and onions. You can also use mothballs, ammonia, or predator urine, such as that of a cat or fox, to deter rats. However, these methods may not be as effective as professional pest control treatments.

4. What are some common traps for rats?

Common traps for rats include snap traps, live traps, glue traps, and electronic traps. Snap traps and live traps are the most humane options, while glue traps and electronic traps may be more effective for larger infestations.

5. How can I dispose of a dead rat?

To dispose of a dead rat, wear gloves and place it in a plastic bag. Seal the bag and place it in a covered trash can or bury it at least 2 feet deep in a designated outdoor area. Do not touch the rat with your bare hands.

6. When should I call a professional pest control service?

You should call a professional pest control service if you have a large or persistent rat infestation that cannot be controlled with DIY methods. A professional can also help to identify and seal entry points to prevent future infestations.

7. Can rats carry diseases?

Yes, rats can carry and transmit diseases such as leptospirosis, hantavirus, and salmonella. Rat droppings and urine can also cause respiratory problems if inhaled.

8. How long does it take to get rid of a rat infestation?

The time it takes to get rid of a rat infestation depends on the size of the infestation and the methods used. DIY methods may take several weeks to be effective, while professional pest control treatments may take just a few days.

9. How can I prevent rats from returning?

To prevent rats from returning, continue to keep your home clean and clutter-free, seal all entry points, and store food in airtight containers. Consider using natural repellents or setting traps as a preventative measure.

10. What should I do if I find a rat in my home?

If you find a rat in your home, do not attempt to handle or capture it yourself. Wear gloves and use a snap trap or call a professional pest control service to safely remove the rat and prevent future infestations.

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