One of the most unsightly things for any homeowner is spotting a rat in their own home. If there is one, there are definitely more and the situation can quickly turn into a health hazard. In order to avoid a rat infestation, every homeowner should know why rats choose their property, to begin with. Finding out would help prevent further infestations. In the meantime, however, the Fantastic Services team has made this guide on how to get rid of rats.

Table of Contents:

What Attracts Rats

  • Food and water. If you store grain in your attic or basement, you can be sure that rats will find it. Bird feeders can also attract rats. Any nuts and fruits out in the open would be a target. Outdoor water sources, such as swimming pools are another attractant.
  • Shelter. Rats are always on the move, seeking shelter for their young. They can squeeze into incredibly small spaces to gain entry to your property. As long as they find a small protected space that provides warmth, they could easily make a nest.
  • Safety and Security. Once a rat has found a place in your home, they would stay for a long time if they feel safe from predators and have a secure supply of food and water.

Signs of Rats

  • Live or dead rats;
  • Droppings;
  • Scratching sounds at night;
  • Hidden nests;
  • Gnawed food;
  • Gnawed cardboard;
  • Rodent hairs.
  • Gnawed wires;
  • Burrows in the yard.
Related: How to Get Rid of Rats and Mice in the Garden

Rat Dangers

Rats are capable of causing serious property damage. Their very presence creates an unsanitary environment, which if left untreated, can threaten the health of your family and pets. The rodents tend to chew on paper, rubber, cardboard and any food left out in the open. A particularly bad scenario is when they chew on electric cables. This could cause a power cut and even start a fire.

If rats nest in your garden, instead of your house, they will most probably hang around or inside your shed, if you store produce in there. Or they may burrow holes in the soil and disturb your plants.

Rats are nocturnal, so they can mostly be seen during the night. However, if the infestation is severe, they might come out during the day because their hiding spots are overflowing. If you see a rat during the day, call an exterminator immediately.

Diseases Transmitted by Rats

  • Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome. Humans get infected by inhaling contaminated dust from rat urine or droppings or by direct contact with rat waste.
  • Salmonellosis. Humans get infected by consuming food or water contaminated by rat faeces.
  • Leptospirosis. Humans get infected by swimming in or drinking contaminated water.
  • Rat-bite fever. Humans get infected if they’re bitten or scratched by a rat, or by getting in contact with a dead rat.

Rat fleas

The rat flea is a parasite that feeds on rodent blood. Often, rats tend to be plagued by this type of fleas. If you have a rat infestation at home, it’s very possible that the rats would also cause a secondary flea infestation in your home. The rat flea is known to transmit diseases such as the Bubonic plague. It’s a treatable disease today, but still, it’s a problematic health hazard.

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Rat Control

How to Get Rid of Rats at Home

Once you’ve found out that there is a rat infestation in your home, it’s time to do something about it. Here is a list of options you can try:

  1. Identify the rats’ feeding and nesting places

    First, it’s important to find a place where the rats tend to hide. This is typically the place they nest and the place they feed. Look for holes in the walls and chew marks.

  2. Use snap traps

    Manual snap traps are the most effective means of capturing and killing rats. It’s also the least expensive method. There are small ones, designed to catch mice and large ones that are appropriate for catching rats. Make sure to get the larger ones.

  3. Try live traps

    Live traps are cages with a special mechanism that closes once a rat gets inside. They’re used for humane disposal of rodents. You would have to inspect them regularly and empty them every time they have caught a rodent. Then, the process starts all over again.

  4. Opt for rat poison

    Using rodent pesticides is also a very effective method for killing rats. However, they’re not recommended if you have pets or small children. Always follow the safety instructions on the label of various products. It’s important to use gloves and a face mask when applying the rodenticide.

  5. Placement

    Whether you choose to use traps or rat poison, it’s important to know where to place the product for optimal efficiency. It’s not advisable to position the traps or apply the poison near food or water supply. Instead, place them close to the rats’ nesting place. Even if they aren’t at “home”, they will at some point come back.

  6. Remove rats humanely

    If you’ve decided not to kill the rats you’ve caught, you would have to release them in the wild one by one. Take them out and try to release them as far away as possible, so they don’t return. Bear in mind, however, that this is a good strategy only if you are certain you have only a few rats at home. For a large infestation, you’ll have to kill them all off.

  7. Call a rat exterminator

    If everything fails and you still see signs of an infestation despite all your efforts, it’s time to call the professionals. Rat exterminators know what they’re doing and can guarantee you a pest-free home.

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Preventing Rat Infestations

Once the rats are gone from your home, you can finally take a deep breath and relax. For a day. After that, you should take precautions against a new infestation. Just because they’ve left you alone for now doesn’t mean they won’t ever come back. Here’s what you can do to prevent another infestation:

  • Remove any clutter. Sometimes, rats don’t nest inside the walls or in any hard to get places, but inside a room, if there are enough hiding places. This makes a cluttered attic or basement the perfect shelter for the pesky vermin. To avoid this, declutter your home of all unnecessary items.
  • Get a cat. A cat won’t do much if you already have a full-blown infestation, but it could generally ward off the attempts of new rats settling into your home. Or in other words, when rats sense that there is a natural predator waiting for them, they wouldn’t even dream of making their nest close to it. In all honesty, dogs are also reliable against rats.
  • Keep food in airtight containers. If you have to store food in your attic, basement or garden shed, use airtight plastic containers, instead of bags. This would prevent mice and rats from sensing that there is food inside, so they won’t be attracted.
  • Take out the rubbish every day. Avoid giving rodents a reason to come close to your home. Never leave any food out in the open. This includes leftovers from dinner or dirty dishes in the sink. If you have to throw away any organic waste, take out the rubbish as soon as possible. If you can’t, invest in a waste disposal unit with an airtight seal. Keep your home clean and remove food spillages, crumbs, etc. from all surfaces in a timely manner.
  • Seal any holes and possible entry points in your property. It’s advisable to inspect the structure of your building once every year. Check for cracks and holes. Inspect also the garage doors, the chimneys, the dryer and AC vents. Anything that can serve as a crawl space should be properly sealed. This way,  you’ll block all potential routes towards the inside of your property.

Act quickly the moment you spot the first signs of a rat infestation. This way, you’ll protect your family against a health-hazardous situation and save money on getting rid of the pesky rodents.

Image source: Heiko Kiera/

Did you find our article on removing rats helpful? Do you have something to add? Please, share your knowledge and thoughts in the comments below!

  • Last update: January 21, 2020

Posted in Rodent Infestations

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