How to Get Rid of Rats in Your Home
The best way to avoid problems with rats is not having rats in the first place. But if the worst comes to the worst and you discover a sign of the pesky rodent in your property - you'll be probably confronted with the dilemma of how to get rid of rats - DIY style or by resorting to professional rat control.
Both methods have their pros and cons and you'll find them different in terms of how quickly you'll get rid of rats, how costly it'll be and how much effort you'll need to put. So, without further ado, let's dive in!
DIY Rat Control Methods
- Humane traps. These capture the rats alive, so you can release them in the wild at a later time. However, they’re not a good choice if you’re dealing with an excessive infestation.
- Lethal traps. The most common are snap traps, which kill the rat instantly. They’re a very useful method and can help even if you’re dealing with a large infestation.
- Homemade rat poison. Rat poison is a very effective method and it also works faster than the other two. The difference in the rat population is visible overnight.
One of the well-known homemade rat poisons is the boric acid poison. Mix 1 cup of the boric acid with chicken broth. Stir the mixture well and add more of the boric acid if it's too thin. Rats will be attracted to the smell of the broth. They should consume the mixture and eventually die from the poisonous boric acid.
Use rat poison carefully, with gloves and a protective mask. It’s also recommended to have your small children and pets out of the house while treating it with rat poison. Unfortunately, a problem arises when a poisoned rat is eaten by other wildlife and this causes secondary poisoning. Also read our post on How to dispose of a dead rat.
Pros of DIY Rat Control Methods
- Low cost. If you’re dealing with a small infestation, you can get rid of it by using DIY pest control techniques without having to pay to professionals, who charge by the hour.
- No chemicals. Provided you’re not using rat poison, you might be able to get rid of a small infestation with snap traps, or humane traps, without using any chemicals in your house.
Cons of DIY Rat Control Methods
- Not effective for large infestations. If you wait too long before you act, the infestation might become impossible to handle by yourself.
- You'll have to get rid of the dead rats yourself. No matter how successful you are, it’s still your job to get rid of the rat corpses one by one.
- You'll have to get in close contact with rat faeces and urine. No one else will be there for you to clean up your house, so you'll have to clean up the rat waste.
- Unreachable rat corpses. If you use poison, it's possible for a rat to die between the walls of your house, or in another unreachable place. Once the corpse starts to rot, the smell will be more unbearable than all the waste combined.
How to Prepare for DIY Rat Control
- Seal cracks in the wall, floor and ceiling. The rats have found a way into your home through small passages. Find them all and seal them, so they cannot escape and also no new ones can enter.
- Don’t keep food out in the open. Rats are attracted by any food in plain sight. Make sure you have no crumbs laying around, the rubbish bin is disposed of and there is no uneaten pet food around.
- Check the plumbing. Rats are also attracted by water leaks. Unlike mice, they need to drink water. It’s very possible that rats' nest is close to a water source.
- Get rid of clutter. The more clutter you have in your home, the more hiding spots you’re providing for the rats. Put away, sell, or dispose of unneeded items and the rats will have nowhere to hide.
- Unleash your pet. Both cats and dogs are mice and rats predators. A single pet will not get rid of an entire infestation, but it can discourage new rats from entering your property. Also, a pet can motivate a rat or mice colony to change its location.
Rat Control Myths that Don’t Work
The most common myth in rat prevention out there is the so-called "natural pest control", aka using certain smells that would keep mice and rats away. Some of those include mothballs, ammonia, peppermint, even cucumber peels. It's true that rats don't enjoy these smells, but they won't run away from them, either.
Another myth is how easily rats and mice can be fooled with cheese as bait. It's a common idea from famous children's animations, but truth is, rodents aren't crazy about cheese. They don't dislike it, but if you want to really bait them with an irresistible smell, use peanut butter.
Read more: How to prevent rat infestation?
Professional Rat Control
Professional rat control experts will take all this hard work off your hands and get rid of the infestation for you in a timely manner. The usual procedure includes:
- Survey. The exterminator will arrive at your property and examine the place to identify all the entry points the rats use. The specialist will use specialised equipment such as an endoscope camera. At the end of the survey, he will know the level of the infestation.
- Treatment. The exterminator will seal all entry points with durable expanding foam and use bait boxes filled with rodenticide.
- Observation. The expert will come back again after a short period of time to assess the situation. If there are any rat carcass, he will get rid of them. If the professional notices more rodent activity, he will repeat the treatment.
- Prevention. If the customer wishes, the pest control technician can install rat preventing devices, such as a door brush seal and vent mesh.
Pros of Professional Rat Control
- Satisfaction guarantee. It depends on the company, but in general, with professional pest control, you will definitely get rid of your infestation. Professionals just know what they're doing.
- You won't come in close contact with rat carcass. The technician will remove any dead rats and rat waste for you.
- Help with prevention. The technician can help you prevent future infestations by sealing the entry points, by installing new rat-proofing devices and by giving you useful advice.
Cons of Professional Rat Control
- It can be costly. Depending on the company you choose, prices can vary significantly and if they deem the level of infestation as too high, it might make a big impact on your wallet.
How to Prepare for Professional Rat Control
The best thing you can do when you're expecting certified exterminators to visit you is to grant them access to hard to reach areas. You might have to declutter some rooms and move some furniture out of the way. It's a good idea to also empty the cabinet under the sink and remove anything on top of the refrigerator.