How to Get Rid of Rats in Your House

There are many reasons why you should consider acting fast if you either suspect that you have rats in your home or if you in fact have seen some of them. There’s a considerable amount of danger in having them run around, and this article will talk to you about making sure that you get rid of them and keep them away too.

Dangers of Rats

Even if you don’t seem to mind having them running around, there are certain dangers associated with rats and most people aren’t super keen on sharing their home with rats to start off with either. While you might think that there’s something cute about mice, rats are a little bit different. An encounter with a rat can be a rather intimidating experience.

There’s a bunch of parasites that can come along with having rats in your home and potential diseases is another side effect that might not be too appealing about these pets. Did you know that some of the diseases that they carry may even be deadly for humans. Some of the diseases include salmonellosis, fever, listeria, hantavirus and more. They can also end up biting you, although it isn’t common.

There are also possible allergy development concerns in having rats as pests. Their urine and droppings help increase the risk that you end up becoming allergic and having to deal with allergies for the rest of your life, and they can have problematic side effects for people suffering from asthma.

Besides carrying potential diseases, they’re also problematic in the fact that they can chew into wood and cables, and they’re believed to cause 25% of house fires from chewing into cables. Be sure to read our post on fire safety too. They can also start chewing away at your home’s insulation.

Just because you don’t see a rat in your home doesn’t mean that it’s free from them, and if you suspect they’re there, it’s better to get the help of exterminators.

What Will Attract Rats to Your Yard or House?

Certain things are very effective at attracting rats, and your home is especially likely to house them during the colder winter months when they’re trying to get out of the cold. They want to build a nest, so if you can help in making it less attractive for them to do so in your house, they’re less likely to infest it.

They’re naturally trying to find food too, and it’s not just your own food that needs to be properly stored so that rats don’t simply have free access to it, it’s also the food that your pets eat. The bags that carry the pet food are generally not strong enough to keep an eager rat from biting a hole in the side. Hard plastic canisters are more difficult for the rat to get through, and the same is the case when it comes to garbage. Plastic bags are easy ways to tempt a hungry rat.

The ideal place for them to create a nest is somewhere warm and dark, which is why the attic is often the first place that you will end up finding a rat. Cellars, basements and other warm and dark places attract them too. Check out these areas frequently, and making sure to look for the signs of an infestation should also be on your home maintenance list. Good home maintenance is a way to help limit the entrance opportunities for a rat as they need surprisingly little space in order to make it into your home.

How do Rats Get in Your House?

rats against a window

Rats do not need a lot of space in order to be able to make it into your home, so you will need to go on an adventure to seal of holes that may provide points of entry for them. There are, however, places where they traditionally are able to enter through. Unsealed exterior attic entries, unscreened windows, unsealed doorways with sufficient space for them to enter through, openings in crawlspaces, unscreened roof vents, siding that needs to be repaired and that have holes in it, trees or bushes that are standing close to your home, and cluttered lawns.

Remember that they do not need a big hole to be able to enter through so while those are some of the most common places that they enter through, you should regularly inspect your home to make sure you don’t find problems anywhere.

Signs to Look for That Indicate They’re Present in Your Home

There are different signs you should be looking out for when it comes to rats. These include things such as footprints. Since the rats are often traveling in areas where humans don’t commonly go, they’ll also be leaving little footprints in the dust that you should be looking out for.

Since rats build nests in those dark, warm areas, their nests are a clear sign that you’re dealing with rats. Newspaper and fabrics are often things that they will use for their nests and they may contain young rats too. They’re generally built near the source of food that the rat is eating, so you could even find them behind your appliances.

Burrows is another sign that you are dealing with rats.

If you’re hearing scratching noises from above, you’re likely dealing with black rats.

Grease and dirt rub marks. Rats don’t see very well and consequently leave rub marks where they go.

Bite marks are common as their biting is a way for them to handle the fact that their teeth are continuously growing. Visible teeth marks in unexpected places could very well be caused by this rodent.

Rat droppings is a sure sign that you have rats. They’re often about the size of large grains of rice.

When you see any of these signs, it’s important that you act upon it to deal with the situation.

Inside and Outside Places to Check

two rats

There are more and less common places for rats to be. These are the most common ones you should be aware of.

The most common places inside include kitchens, laundries, lofts and attics. Any place that is out of sight and warm is a potential breeding ground for them.

Outside, they commonly appear next to the drains, in overgrown vegetation, in compost bins, garages, sheds, decking and any humid and warm place they may find.

What do They Eat?

Rats will eat about anything they can get access to even if they very much have their preferred types of food that they would rather stick to if they can. They’ll eat anything from compost to trash but their fancy is especially grains, nuts, fruits, vegetables and seeds. A leaking faucet or any other type of water leak is also something they will be drawn to as it helps them satisfy their thirst. Meat, scraps and animal food is also stuff they will be happy to eat. While it won’t stop them, they’ll generally not hunt but can be convinced to do so if no other food source is readily available.

Best Bait to Get Them Out

The type of bait you use for rats depends on the type of rat you’re dealing with. Norway rats which are also known as either the brown rat or simply the most common type like certain bate, while the black rat is baited by other things.

If you have a brown rat living with you some of the most popular bait includes sausage, peanut butter, gumdrops, dried fruit, bacon and chocolate. The black rat is especially drawn to snails, peanut butter, nuts, insects, dried fruit and berries.

As you can see, there is still some overlap in what can be used to draw them out.

It’s in fact a good idea to let the rats get a sense for the bait you’re using before you try and trap them. When that’s achieved, the other rats are more likely to follow troop and give it a go at the food you’re using for bait when they can smell that one rat has already tried it. It signals to other rats that the food is safe to eat.

You can get synthetic rat breath odor and when sensitively used, can help the rats in taking the bait.

You also want to go for some bait that is nice and smelly.

Best Repellents

While the best solution is to make sure that the rats can’t get in in the first place and that you aren’t using leaving out things that would tempt them to try, there are things you can do to help keep them away, which includes different types of repellent.

One option is to use an ultrasonic device that emits high frequency sounds which the rat won’t like, although you inconveniently will need to place several of them in different places where the rats are likely going to go for it to be effective. The advantage of this option is that you’re not dealing with poison. The issue about this type of device is that it’s not everyone that reports great results when using them, and you could also end up being bothered by the sound they emit too. To operate, they’ll also need to continuously have electricity powering them and their usage may simply not be convenient.

You can also get botanical repellent which is a mixture of different plants that rats aren’t supposed to like. Before you go off and buy something claiming to be a repellent, be sure to read the reviews, since there are a lot of things claimed to work, which the pros claim don’t.  Some of the things include moth balls, ammonia, peppermint oil, toilet cakes, human hair, urine from their natural predators.

How do you get rid of them naturally?

Check out this video when you’re working on getting rid of the rats in a natural way.

The best natural way to get rid of them is by making sure they don’t have anywhere to enter through. Other people on the internet have listed these as being natural remedies against rats, although the science behind it seems to be limited and the results vary:

  1. Snake/cat litter
  2. Baby powder
  3. Onion
  4. Bay leaf
  5. Pepper
  6. Peppermint oil
  7. Ammonia
  8. Moth balls

Moth ball have been linked to cancer, and the remedies may not be as effective as some people choose to think.

Some sites claim that certain essential oils can help keep rats away too. These include eucalyptus and citronella.

You can also get electric shock traps that should help deter the rats from going where the traps are located as they will learn that they get electrocuted if they do touch them. They’re made so that they don’t actually kill the rat. Catch and release traps are also available and are a natural option.

A cat or dog is a great way to naturally get rid of rats, although they will likely not leave them alive if they catch them. If your plan is to get a rat-free house without killing them, you might want to go for another option. The issue with a cat or a dog is also that they won’t be able to enter your attic, so it’s not unheard of that a family’s got a pet, while the rats are thriving upstairs.

Tips When Using a Trap

When you’re setting up a rat trap, there are some different measures you can take to make it more successful. We’ve included a list of tips below to make it easier for you.

  • Start by getting the diet right – we mentioned it already. Use something that you know the type of rat will eat and something that is smelly.
  • Let a rat get comfortable with the trap – it might sound weird but if the rat isn’t comfortable with the trap, it’s less likely to get caught up in it. What that means is that you will want to set it up without activating it. That way, after it gets more accustomed to it, you can set it and then it won’t be nearly as cautious the next time. Let it feed off the trap for some time first.
  • Let the trap do the work instead of using poison – using rat poison might be tempting, but if it takes a while before it does the job, the rat might have time to go and lie down in some corner where it’s hard to locate. Ideally, you want the trap to take care of the rat on impact which will make it easier to deal with. It also makes sure that rat poison won’t be spread across the house as a consequence.
  • Choosing the right trap – there are different types of traps depending on whether you’re using them for or rats and using the right one is crucial. A mouse trap won’t be enough to deal with a rat problem.
  • Avoid leaving human smell on traps – this will just help in making sure that the trap is in fact as effective as possible. What that means is that you should ideally be wearing gloves when you’re handling the traps because you’ll otherwise be leaving a small human scent on the trap which might make the rat a lot less likely to approach it. You can simply wash the trap if you’ve accidentally touched it with your bare hands.
  • Use more than one trap – one trap might be enough if you’re just dealing with one rat but do you want to fix the problem fast or slow? And are you sure there isn’t more than one rat?
  • Place traps along walls – this is where rats generally tend to travel and by placing them 10-15 feet apart is how you’ll catch the rats.
  • Keep them out before they come in – you should seal your house but instead of having them come in and do damage to your property and possibly spread disease, handle the problem outside. Make sure there are no overhanging trees. You can get a professional to come and help you too.
  • Use the necessary force to keep them away – if you believe you have a big problem, call to come and help you instead of trying to do it yourself. If not, set up enough traps to make sure that the population keeps swindling and they end up not being able to reproduce on your property.

How Much Does it Cost to Get Rid of Rats in Your House?

While you are able to get a lot done by strategically putting out traps yourself, if you want to hire a professional to come and help you get rid of the rats in your home, homeowners reportedly pay between $100 and $500 for the help. The cost will include an average type of job as well as sealing of the places where the rat is likely to enter through.

For very complex problems, the cost may reach $1,000 which is when there is a great need for a lot of traps with several visits and a lot of places to be sealed off.

How to Catch them with A Homemade Trap

While there are a lot of great options for buying existing solutions, you can in fact also rather easily make a rat trap that is very effective. Watch the video below if you’re more interested in creating a trap yourself. If it works – great! Otherwise you can always try out other solutions too to help with the issue.

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