Does your home have a rat problem?
Don’t be embarrassed. Seeing or hearing rats scurrying about your house is scary and can be a serious health issue, so taking care of the problem right away is crucial.
In this guide, we’ll explain the signs of rat infestation and the steps you should follow to eradicate them from your house. When you know how to get rid of rats from your home the right way, you can sleep well, knowing your family is safe from these creepy critters!
How to Identify a Serious Rat Infestation
Rats are nocturnal, so catching a glimpse may be rare. Luckily, they leave plenty of other clues behind such as:
Rat droppings – Dark brown and resembles rice.
Unusual sounds and chewed items – Rats are active at night climbing walls and furniture, which makes strange noises. Rats also chew constantly to sharpen their teeth and prevent them from growing too long.
Holes near foundation – Some rats burrow, so look for holes about the size of a golf ball along the base of your home.
Tracks – Rats follow their favorite paths to and from their nest. Look in dust for footprints, or search for a dirty trail.
Nests – Rats make nests from insulation or boxes. Look for loose material piled into a corner or hidden behind furniture.
Before getting into the steps of rat removal, you must heed this important warning. Poisonous baits or strong snapping traps can inflict severe damage. Keep traps or bait safely out of reach of curious pets and children.
Step 1: Locate the Nest
It’s much harder to remove rats if you don’t know where they hide. Take the time to sleuth around your home looking for the signs above that indicate a rat nest or burrow.
The closer you set traps to the nest, the more success you’ll have catching all the rats and eradicating the problem.
Step 2: Pick your Removal Method
There are two conventional methods of removing rats, each with pros and cons.
Traps are typically a mechanical live trap or a large wood, plastic, or metal snap-trap (think standard mousetrap on steroids.)
The pro of using these traps is that they are reusable. The con is they entail either handling dead rats or trying to relocate or euthanize those you catch alive.
Glue traps lay flat on the floor with a tasty treat set in the center to entice the rat to step into and get stuck on the glue.
While these traps are very affordable, rats rarely stick to them enough to avoid escape.
Using poisons, either in pellet, block, or liquid form, is another option. Bait traps have an opening that allows rats to grab and eat pellets. Hopefully, the rat also takes some back to the nest to feed others.
Bait stations allow the rat to enter and chew from a block of poison but won’t allow the poison itself to leave the station. Lastly, pest control services often use professional-grade pesticide sprays to kill rats.
The downside of poison is that it often fails to kill all the rats. The ones that do die often crawl into a wall or hiding spot so you can’t remove the body, which will stink up your home horribly.
The rats that don’t die mate and multiply, so the cycle never ends.
Step 3: Set the Trap
If you’re using live-catch mechanical traps, place a tempting treat inside the cage, and carefully set the trapdoor-release trigger. To trap Norway rats, gently place the trap along a wall near the nest. For roof rats, place traps up in attic rafters or on higher levels of the home.
Set and place snap-style traps in the same locations, being careful to attach the treat to the release mechanism before setting the trigger. Placing the treat on the trap after setting it can result in a broken finger if you accidentally set it off.
Set poison-bait traps near any suspected nest. Watch the traps daily to see if any bait has been eaten, and leave them in place for at least ten days after the last signs of rat activity.
Step 4: Double Down
While you’re laying traps, also seal off your home from a new invasion. Entry points, like holes in roof vents, soffits, ridge caps, and gable vent screening, will need patching with steel sheeting.
The same goes for holes where pipes or wires lead into your home. Any gap over a 1/2-inch wide or a quarter-size hole is large enough for a rat to squeeze through. Cover them all with a non-chewable sheet metal barrier.
Remember that cleanliness means nothing to rats. They are just as likely to visit a spotless home as a dirty one searching for shelter, water, or food.
Keeping food in pest-proof containers and sealing off escape routes from your home makes it easier to catch the rats.
TIP: Pet food and water bowls are a buffet for rats, so avoid leaving feeding bowls out all day if rats are a problem.
Step 5: Rat Removal
Never handle a dead rat without thick gloves and a filter mask, as they can carry many diseases. Another area of concern when handling live-caught rats is they love to bite, so use caution.
You can bury dead rats in your garden or double-wrap them in plastic bags and throw them in the trash.
Step 6: Preventative Maintenance
Now that the rats are gone, you need to keep it that way by keeping an eye on possible entry points and covering them up right away. Check regularly for new rat signs inside the home and keep food properly sealed.
Finally, don’t encourage rats to climb onto your roof by keeping tree branches trimmed or pruning away vines growing up the walls.