Rats are loved by some. They can even be pets. They can also be an aggressive rodent that can severely damage your home. Rats love to chew through wires and this can cause appliances to malfunction. Even electrical shorts can start fires. That’s why knowing how to get rid of rats is essential knowledge for every homeowner.
Many homeowners believe that they’ve got a dirty home when rats decide to move in, but the opposite is usually true. Rats are incredibly clean animals that prefer a sanitary environment to any other, although they can carry several diseases. These rodents adapt to all environments, however, so even the sewer can become a home for one if necessary. This means any part of your home can become the home for a nest of rats, but the cleanest areas with food tend to be the most tempting.
These rodents are nocturnal animals, so the best time of day to try to remove them from your property is at sundown as they’re first starting to wake up. This is when they’ll be wanting food and will come out for bait or other removal attempts. They’ll spend up to three-quarters of their day sleeping.
Rats are also incredibly adept at hiding. There are two types of rats, the Norway rat, and the Black rat, which can be found on all 6 regularly populated continents because they are so good at stowing away. Add in the fact that the average rat couple can produce up to 2,000 offspring every year and it’s easy to see how a rat infestation problem can expand exponentially.
These rodents can survive a fall of 50 feet and tread water. With their aggressive nature as a pest, it makes them an incredibly difficult rodent to remove.
Signs of Rats
Rats that are considered pests instead of pets aren’t generally brave around humans. There will be the occasional one that will come out to fight for food, but, for the most part, they’re going to stay in hiding and keep to the dark corners of the home. This means if you happen to see one or there’s a dead one somewhere, you’ve got a nest that needs to be removed someplace on your property.
Rats will leave droppings where they tend to eat. Because rats may bring food back home to the nest, however, there may not be droppings at the food source. This means the main visual evidence of a rat infestation are the greasy streaks and footprints that they tend to leave as they are wandering about in the middle of the night. These streaks appear because rats typically stick to their same patterns of movement, much like ants.
A rat also has a habit of always chewing or gnawing on something. If you hear munching or grinding noises within the walls, attic, or basement, then there’s a good chance that there are rats around. You might also see chew marks or even holes in your floor from all of their chewing. Once established, rats are not going to go away. Some form of removal must happen to stop the infestation.
How To Kill Rats
There are three ways that you can kill rats that are rather effective.
- Through the use of trapping.
- The placement of rodenticides [rat poison].
- Purchasing a cat.
For homes that have pets or kids, trapping is generally going to be the best option for killing rats. Bait can be placed in the trap that is a food product instead of a poison. If the nest is not well established, then a few traps can help to eliminate the infestation before it becomes overly problematic. When using traps, it is important to consistently check the traps to make sure if a rodent has been caught so the odor of a dead animal doesn’t permeate the house.
The one problem of a rat trap is that larger animals may not die right away when the trap closes on them. The rodent may then drag the trap into an inaccessible area of the home and cause a long-lasting odor that can be costly to remove.
Poisons offer the same results. The rats may die from the poison in a place that is inaccessible and cause long-lasting odors. Rodenticides should only be used in places where pets or kids aren’t going to try to use them. Bait stations that are tamper resistant are usually the best option for this while wall voids, behind appliances, or in other inaccessible locations will also work. Single feed baits are the best option since they’re designed to kill the rat on just one feeding.
It’s against the law to place rat poison in a place where kids or pets can access it.
There are other traps that may be used to kill rats as well. Glue traps have become popular lately as they are designed to immobilize the rat so it can’t drag itself off into an inaccessible part of the home. There are also electrical traps that will jolt the rodent with a fatal dose of battery-supplied voltage when they walk into the trap.
If you’re not willing to kill the rodents, there are also humane traps that can be used to remove a live rat from the home. Rats can travel long distances to return to a nest, so you will want to take the rat at least 10 miles away from your home before releasing it. Be careful upon release that the rat doesn’t try to take a bite out of a finger during the process.
As a final step, it is also important to remove any openings that the rats may have created to enter the building in the first place. Repairing openings immediately and using a wire mesh that isn’t easy for the rodents to chew through are the best ways to block openings. If trapping, you may wish to repair openings first to make sure new rats don’t join the population over time.
DIY Rat Control
To control rats, it is necessary to remove their ability to find food and enter a building. It is also necessary to control the population in some way so that the nest doesn’t become a permanent establishment. These DIY products will help you do just that.
Stuf-fit Copper Mesh
Because rats can chew through virtually anything that is made from a soft or cellulose material, including your flooring, it is important to repair openings using a metal mesh. This copper-blend mesh will help to control the movement of the rats and even keep them out of your home when applied to the exterior of the building. This particular mesh is rust-proof so you won’t have to worry about any ongoing damage once it is installed. You could pay someone $600 to seal up your home from rats or you could purchase the same materials the pros use and do the work yourself today.
Raticator Infrared Rat Trap
Instead of using a wire snap trap that can create a mess or a plastic tooth trap that might not kill the rat at all, this infrared rat trap will provide a strong electrical charge to the rodent to instantly kill it. This eliminates the need for poisons or possible injuries from the classic rat trap. On one set of batteries, this particular trap will take care of up to 50 rats. It’s also easy to remove the rodent and clean up afterward. The kill rate is 100% and the batteries last for a full year. Just put in bait, place the trap, and then check it.
Havahard X-Small Humane Trap
If you prefer a live removal option for the rats that are in your home or building, then this is the trap for you. The rats are attracted to the bait placed within it and then once they step on the trigger plate, they can’t leave the trap. The top of the trap is solid metal so you won’t have to worry about any angry rodent trying to grab a finger. The rats are also protected by the design of the trap itself, with smoothed over corners, so there isn’t a mess to clean up afterward. The metal has also been galvanized to prevent rust from building up and causing the trap to become unusable.
Rat Exterminator Cost
There are two things that a good rat exterminator must do to remove an infestation: eliminate the rats and eliminate the exterior openings that the rats can access. This means homeowners must generally pay for each task separately. In areas where rodent infestations are common, it can easily cost $600 or more to have the exterior of a home reinforced so that rats can’t break into it. The removal of the rats may also cost up to $600 over the course of a year, especially if there is an extensive nest that is present somewhere on the property.
Many rat exterminators also use the same removal techniques that the DIY homeowner will use. Considering the differences in cost, it’s easy to understand why a DIY approach is often taken first.
Rat Repellent and Prevention
It may not always be possible to prevent a rat infestation, but there are some steps that can be taken today to reduce the chances of these rodents moving in. Keeping a property clean and free of food options will make rats look elsewhere for their needs. Inside the home, keep all foods packaged appropriately so they cannot be easily accessed by the rodents. If there is any trash that is loose, then pick it up immediately.
Reinforcing the exterior of the home is also essential to preventing a rat infestation from occurring. Using a metal mesh, seal up all exterior entry points. This includes the chimney, any vents, and any basement or crawl-space access points.
One thing that rats don’t like at all is high pitched noises. High-frequency noise making machines that have sounds at the 45,000 Hz range can keep rats from entering a building. You’ll need to have a device placed at each potential entry point or on each floor of the building or home to have an effective deterrent.
As a final step, it is also important to be consistent. If you set out traps of any kind, then check them every other day at minimum. Replace the batteries on zapper traps so that you’re not feeding the rats with your bait. Remove rats from humane traps immediately and take them far enough away where they won’t return. In doing so, you’ll slowly and effectively remove the rat problem.
Natural Rat Repellent and Poison
Having a cat or dog in your home is the most natural rat repellent there can be. These rodents don’t typically invade homes where their predators happen to be. Cats will eat the rats and dogs love to smash them with their paws.
If you don’t want to own a dog or a cat, making some of the exterior points of your home smell like one can sometimes be just as effective. Speak with a local pet grooming store about getting some animal hair and then place it around your property. Animal shelters may have some available as well.
Rats also avoid the odor of ammonia frequently. If you put some ammonia onto cotton balls and then placed them into wall voids or around your property, the rodents will stay away. If you can find the nest of the rats and put ammonia into it, they will abandon it.
If your rat invaders like to chew wires, then putting a food product on it that is bothersome to them can stop that habit quickly. Use Chinese hot mustard, hot pepper sauces, or wasabi horseradish and coat your wiring with it. If you have access to ghost peppers, create your own pepper sauce [it will burn your skin, so be careful], but you’ll also teach those rats a lesson they won’t ever forget.
Knowing how to get rid of rats doesn’t just mean setting a few traps here and there. Use this guide to formulate a response that makes sense for your property. Be consistent in your efforts to repel and remove this pest and you won’t have to worry about rats ever again.