Do you fear that your home may be infested with rats? Do you often hear loud scratching and squeaking noises every night? Well, that’s one sign that you have unwanted visitors living in your home. Rats are common pests in most households and they should be eliminated right away before they do serious damage to your property and spread disease.
Rats are not only annoying; they can also spread diseases. Rats are highly intelligent animals and it may not be that easy to get rid of them. However, with proper knowledge and preparation, you’ll be able to successfully get rid of this pest in no time. Make your home rodents free with this guide on how to get rid of rats and control your rat infestation at home.
What You Need to Know About Rats
It is best to know what you’re dealing with first so, you’ll have an idea of how you will solve your rat problem successfully.
Rats are Intelligent Creatures
This type of rodent is highly intellectual and can learn and understand concepts. They have the ability to think and figure things out. They also have great memory, which is why it can sometimes be challenging to lure them and get rid of them quickly .
Rats have poor eyesight which makes it difficult for them to see where they are going. This is also the reason why they usually walk along walls and create their own pathway. Thanks to their excellent memory, they can easily navigate a route and never forget it.
They Have a Way to Communicate
They have their own way of communicating with each other and even with humans. They can convey messages by smell, touch, and by sound through frequencies that humans cannot hear. They can also recognize if their fellow rats are in pain and know how to react.
There are Different Species of Rats
There are at least 56 known species of rats around the world. Some of the most common rat species are:
This rat is also known as the brown rat. A Norway rat is either black or brown in color and has a lighter brown or gray underside. They have small ears and their size is usually between 15 to 20 inches, including the tail. Norway rats will eat everything that will come their way. They eat all kinds of plants, small eggs, birds, and invertebrates.
Roof rats are also called black rats or ship rats. A roof rat has a size of 5 to 7 inches and its tail can measure up to 8 inches. It has long ears compared to a Norway rat. This type of rat prefers leaves, stems, fruits, seeds, and small animals. Though a roof rat is more common in tropical and coastal areas, it can easily adapt to colder climates as well.
Woodrats or pack rats usually have grayish-brown color. They have large black eyes and ears, with long tails. They also love eating seeds, leaves, berries, small mammals, insects, and a lot more.
Marsh Rice Rats
Marsh Rice rats commonly have gray to grayish-brown color. Their feet and underbelly are usually off-white. They love eating marsh grasses and green vegetation but they also feed on snails, insects, and fish. Their total size is usually around 12 inches.
Rats are Worshipped in Some Countries
While most people see rats as pests, there are some countries that worship rats. In fact, there is a temple in Northwest India that has over 15,000 of these rodents worshipped by devotees.
Rats Only Need 3 Things
This is probably one reason why rats can be very hard to control because they only need three things: food, water, and shelter. As long as they can find food, they will stay. Pest control can be challenging as rats can eat almost anything; they are not picky eaters. They can eat lizards, trash, leftover food, etc. Though they also need water, they can survive without drinking water for a month or more. If they get thirsty, they can easily access water on pet dishes, drains, and moisture from walls and pipes.
Lastly, they need a place to live. Rats can build homes from grasses, weeds, and other plants if they live in the wild. If they are not in the wild, they can take shelter from walls, areas of the house that are seldom used, dark places, under the furniture, and even under or inside appliances.
Signs of Rats in Your Home
If you are unsure whether you have rats inside your home or your property, here are some telltale signs of a rat infestation.
Strange Sounds and Smell
If you hear squeaking noises at home or rustling through dark places, then it is one sign you may have rats at home. If you often see some of your things out of place especially in the kitchen like a toppled condiment, then a rat may probably have knocked it over. Another sign would be if there’s a weird smell in your home. Rats have an ammonia smell that you’ll usually smell particularly in places where they’ve been hiding or that they’ve passed by.
Rats can leave footprints on areas they’ve walked on. If you have a dusty place in your house, see if there are footprints there. You can also dust some baking soda on the floor or areas where you suspect they may be hiding and check in the morning for prints and trails.
If you’ve been noticing small and dark droppings in the shape of a pellet, there’s a big chance a rat is invading your home. As they move, they leave droppings on their pathways and sometimes leave smudges and grease smears on their pathways or walls.
Rats can be very destructive. Being omnivores, they will eat everything they see. They will chew on food containers, wires, furniture, paper, electrical cords, leftover food, and a lot more. They can do real damage to your house.
Why You Need to Get Rid of Rats Fast
Rats can carry a number of dangerous diseases. Some of the diseases they carry are Hepatitis E, tularemia, leptospirosis, hantavirus, plague, and a lot more. Most of these illnesses can be life-threatening.
They Reproduce Quickly
If you have a rat infestation, you need to do some serious pest control as they can reproduce quickly. Even rat pups can reproduce after three months from the time they were born. They have a gestational period of not more than a month. If you don’t take action, the rat population within your home can rapidly grow .
Rats can do serious structural damage to your homes like insulation, drywall, and wood. Apart from structures, rats can damage furniture, clothes, books, and almost anything they can chew on. Another dangerous thing they can do is ruin appliances and chew electrical wires that can cause fires.
May Cause Lack of Sleep
If you are not a heavy sleeper, the noise they make in the evening can be annoying. It would be hard to sleep with all the rustling noise they make. Apart from that, it would be hard to relax and sleep at night knowing there are rats running around the house.
How to Get Rid of Rats
Do a Thorough Home Inspection
The first thing you need to do to get rid of rats is a total home inspection. You need to find out where they might be coming from. Check for any gaps and cracks on vents, garage doors, and the foundation. Check the drains, pipes, appliances, and all other possible entry points.
Seal All Entry Points
Now that you know where they might be coming from, seal all possible entry points and gaps. If you have gaps on your walls, seal them up from inside out. Some holes or gaps may seem very small but rats can easily squeeze their body into holes that can fit your two fingers.
For drains and pipes, you can use covers or those that come with a strainer. Just make sure they are not made of thin plastic or anything that rats can easily chew on. For walls and other holes, you can use cement, wire wool, metal plates, or caulk. Check on them regularly to make sure they are still intact.
Clean Your House
Do a general cleaning and remove anything that they can use as hiding places. As much as you can, avoid placing objects on walls. Clean up the mess at home, especially in areas that are not always visited. Make sure all your garbage bins have lids and are always closed tightly. Don’t leave leftover food on the table, sink, kitchen, dining, and bedrooms. Regularly check and clean your drains and pipes so rats won’t be attracted to them.
Remove Food and Water Sources
Now that you have closed all the gaps and cleaned your home, now it is time to get rid of their food and water sources. Aside from leftover food and trash, rats can feed on your pet food and water. After feeding your pets, clean them up and leave no trace of food anywhere. Store pet food on canisters with lids so rats and mice won’t be able to tear the packaging.
Repel Rats With Scents
Rats have a stronger sense of smell than humans which is why they find a lot of scents unpleasant. Some of the smells they hate are predators, chemicals, and natural smells. One chemical smell that can get rid of rats is naphthalene that is found in mothballs. However, most people stay away from using chemicals as they are toxic to humans and other pets as well as to the environment. When using mothballs, you need a large amount to repel rats.
You may also use the scents of predators to keep rats and mice away. If rats smell the scent of cats, raccoons, and ferrets, they tend to stay away. According to research, when rats are presented with the smell of ferrets or cats, their behavior changes and their stress hormone level increases.
Another predator smell they hate is its urine. They hate the smell of meat-eaters urine, though it is highly unlikely that you’ll use this scent in getting rid of rats, especially when they are inside your house. But you can probably use it when trying to keep rats away from the outside.
Lastly, there are natural smells that are used for pest control. The good thing about using natural smell is that it is safe for humans and the environment. Some natural scents that they hate so much are peppermint, eucalyptus, and citronella.
There are available rodent control sprays that contain these natural oils. You can spray them on areas where they can get through or in their hiding places. You can also use black pepper, cayenne pepper, or cloves. You can spread them on the ground and your home’s foundation. You can also crush some pepper and sprinkle them on holes and openings around your home.
Dry ice is also known to be an effective pest control for rodents. Dry ice can anesthetize and kill rats. However, be careful when handling dry ice. Be sure to wear protective gear like gloves as it can harm the skin. Place it on possible entrances around your home.
Use Pets as Your Rat Control Method
Pets like cats and birds are great rat deterrents. Just the smell of cats will help lessen the rat population on your property. Birds like owls can also eat numerous rats in one night. You can attract owls and other birds by providing them with habitat and a source of food. However, just be careful when feeding birds as this can also attract rats.
Keep Your Garden Well-Maintained
Aside from cleaning the inside of your home, you also need to make sure your garden or yard is well kept. Even if you have an immaculately clean home inside, if the outside is dirty you can still have a rat infestation. Mow your lawn regularly and pick up fallen fruits, vegetables, and dried leaves. Clear any pet and bird food, piles of wood, and seal all garbage bins and all food sources.
While most people do not recommend using poison as a rat control method, it is one of the most effective ways to get rid of rats. However, be careful when using poisons as they can be dangerous. Use them only outside your home, like in the garden or lawn. Keep it away from pets and children. Place it where other people or pets won’t accidentally play or eat them.
Don’t use them inside your home as the chemicals can be harmful. Rodents can spread the poison around your home which can be dangerous when someone touches it. Always read the instructions carefully and follow them. Lastly, check laws in your state or local area regarding the use of rodenticides, as there are some states that had banned the use of rodenticides.
Use Rat Traps
This is one of the most effective ways to get rid of rats and reduce rat populations around your property. There are several kinds of traps such as snap traps, glue traps, and live animal traps.
Snap traps are one of the most widely used rat traps. They are versatile and are easy to use. They are also very affordable. Snap traps are usually placed on pathways that rodents travel. You can put rat bait to lure the rodent. You can either use food like peanut butter or materials used for their nesting. It has a spring mechanism that when triggered will cause the metal bar to snap and kill the rodent. It’s best to use rat bait stations to make it safer to use.
Glue traps work by trapping a rodent when it steps on it or comes in contact with the glue. The rat won’t be able to move and will then kill them. They are more affordable than snap traps and even safer. They can be placed anywhere that is less suspicious-looking compared to other rat traps.
Live Animal Trap
Trapping a rat using a live animal trap is effective and humane as it won’t kill the rat even if it gets trapped. You can place baits such as peanut butter, bacon, cereals, or other meats before the entrance and inside the trap. Wait for rodents and mice to take the bait and the trap entrance will close. Once you have trapped the rodent, use gloves and then release the rat outside away from your home.
One advantage of using a rat trap is that when a rodent is captured, it would be easier to find the dead rats as you know exactly where you placed them. Baits used on traps are much safer than poison rodent baits. However, this may not be the most effective rat control method for large rat populations.
Hire a Professional
Lastly, you can hire a professional to do the work for you. This is advisable for larger rat infestations. Hiring a professional pest control company will help you decrease rat populations inside and outside of your home. They also have different ways for rat removal and other pests that you may have.
A professional can give you advice on the most effective way to stop rat infestation. They will also help you on you can prevent rats and mice from coming back to your property. Expect to spend more money when hiring one.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I get rid of rats in my house fast?
You can use different methods on how to get rid of rats such as trapping, rat bait station, and hiring a professional.
How do I get rid of rats permanently?
Making your home rodent-free will take a lot of work. Make sure to keep your property clean all the time, and close any holes or gaps, and remove all food sources.
What do rats hate the most?
They hate the scents of their predators, chemicals, and some natural scents like pepper and peppermint oil. Spreading or spraying these scents near pipes, drains, their nest, and appliances will help eliminate rats.
How does baking soda kill rats?
Baking soda can kill rats when ingested. Place the baking soda near rat pathways.
How to handle dead rats
When doing dead rat removal, make sure to wear gloves and place the dead rodent, nesting materials, food, and droppings inside a plastic bag. Seal it and place it again in another plastic bag before disposing of it. Clean the area where you found the dead rodent.
How does a bait station work?
Bait stations are devices used to block baits inside. This is to prevent kids and pets from getting in contact with the poisonous bait.
How to get rid of rats is not that easy, especially if the infestation is too big. However, as long as you do it right, your home will soon be free of rodents. Rats can cause a lot of damage to the house and they can also be stressful to deal with. Knowing the early signs of rat infestation will help you deal with your rat problem early on before they become a bigger pest problem and start spreading disease. Whatever method you use, make sure to use it with care and safety.