Rats are one of the most famed and despised pests in America, but they are also highly intelligent and, more recently, becoming widely beloved as common household pets.
Those who have owned a pet rat find them entertaining, affectionate, and even cute and cuddly!
However, you may not find a rat cute and cuddly if it’s invading your yard, crawlspace, chewing through electrical wires, and having babies inside your walls. Rats can be very dangerous and even carry serious diseases if an infestation is left unchecked, which is why it’s so important for any homeowner dealing with a rat infestation to either seek help or take measures to control the problem as soon as possible.
Are you wondering how to get rid of rats? Then you’ve come to the right place. Today we are going to go over everything you need to know about rats, which rats are the most common home invaders, and give you several methods of rat removal so you can pick the right one for you.
Let’s get started.
Identifying A Rat Problem
Rats can cause serious damage to homes, so it’s important to know the signs of a rat infestation.
Having a rat problem is no laughing matter. These tiny creatures can create big problems. They also reproduce rapidly, so it’s important to know what to look for and catch a rat infestation early on before the damage becomes too severe.
The below video goes over the three most common signs of rat problems in your home.
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Other signs of a rat problem in your home include:
- Pets Behaving Oddly
Your pets will often alert you to the first sign of a rodent problem. Both dogs and cats may seem keen to one particular area of the house. They may seem overly focused on a wall, bark or hiss at a particular area, sniff and scratch at certain areas, or even seem stressed or anxious.
- Strange Noises In Your Walls or Around Your Home
If you hear weird noises in the night, you may have rats. Rats are nocturnal and are most active when the sun goes down. This can be very unnerving, especially because determining where the noises are coming from can be difficult at first.
- The Smell Of Urine
The strong scent of urine is another indicator of a rat problem in your home. Rat urine has an overwhelming, musky odor you can’t miss, especially if you have a large infestation.
- Rat Droppings
Have you noticed rat droppings? Rat droppings are larger than mouse droppings but similar in shape and appearance. If you notice rat droppings around your home it is certainly time to look into how to get rid of rats.
- Rat Runways
A runway is the route a rat repeatedly takes after nesting in your home. These runways are generally behind your walls, in your crawlspace, basement, attic, or any other area of your home a rat has infested. You will be able to tell if you are dealing with a rat runway by examining it for oil marks, gnaw marks, and chew marks.
- Oil and Gnawing or Chew Marks
Rats leave oily residue on walls and along their runways. They also leave claw marks and chew marks along walls and edges.
Now that you know how to identify a rat problem, let’s take a look at why the rats have invaded your home in the first place.
Why Are Rats Attracted To My Property?
Rats can be attracted by a number of factors, but many are seeking shelter and a place to nest.
Like most rodents, rats are typically attracted to places that provide food, water, and shelter. Fruit trees, vegetable gardens, bird feeders, and left-out pet food can all be common attractants for rats and other rodents.
Practically all rat invasions begin outdoors, but rats will begin moving into your home if they can. Rats usually get into homes by way of unsealed entry and exit points, roofs, and crawl spaces. In fact, rats are quite dexterous and have been known to crawl through pipes to get into the spaces they feel most comfortable in your home.
How To Get Rid Of Rats – Best Treatment Methods
There are a few different ways you can go about removing rats from your home.
Once a rat invades your home, it can reproduce quickly and may be difficult to get rid of without the use of proper methods.
The best treatment methods you can use when looking for how to get rid of rats are:
- Natural Repellents
Natural rat repellents may include scents, chemicals, sprays, dusts, and even sound. What we like best about natural rat repellents for how to get rid of rats is that they are safe for kids and pets and can be used as often as needed to help reduce and repel rats in the home.
For a very severe rat infestation, you may need to turn to using rodenticides. However, if you do choose to use rodenticides as your method for how to get rid of rats, do so with caution. Most are highly toxic and can be dangerous for humans and pets.
Traps are another common method people use when looking for how to get rid of rats effectively. Many experts recommend using traps along with other remedies like repellents or poisons, especially if you are dealing with a very severe rat infestation. You can use kill traps or live traps, depending on your preference of how to get rid of rats.
- Home Remedies
Rats are sensitive, and they are repelled by a number of ingredients many of us already have in our homes. Using home remedies is a safe, effective, and inexpensive way for you to work on how to get rid of rats, especially if the problem is in its early stages.
Along with the above methods for how to get rid of rats, your best plan of action is to use preventatives. Using preventatives will help you keep rats from entering your home in the first place.
Now, let’s take a look at some of our favorite products for how to get rid of rats, beginning with natural rat repellents and poisons.
How To Get Rid Of Rats Using Natural Repellents or Poisons
Rats are repelled by heavy odors.
As we mentioned above, rat repellents and poisons are an effective method for how to get rid of rats. While poisons may be a harsher and more dangerous way to eliminate a rat problem, they are sometimes necessary if your infestation is too large.
However, if you only have a few rats, using all natural repellents can be a highly effective and safe method.
Below are some of our favorite repellents and rodenticides.
Ever Pest Ultrasonic Rat Repellent Plug-In
Some of our favorite methods for how to get rid of rats are by using ultrasonic noise repellents, like this plug in by Ever Pest. Ultrasonic plug-ins use sound frequencies that are bothersome to pests and work to repel them.
The above ultrasonic rat repellent reaches up to 1,600 square feet and is an effective, harm-free tool to help not only rid your home of rats, but also rid your home of fleas, ants, mosquitoes, mice, flies, roaches, spiders and more.
Mdxconcepts Rat Repellent
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When looking for how to get rid of rats naturally, we recommend this natural rat repellent by Mdxconcepts. It also works against other rodents including mice, and uses natural ingredients like peppermint oil to help repel unwanted pests.
This is a kid safe, pet safe, home-safe way to help get rid of rats and mice in your home without the use of chemicals, poisons, or kill traps. We also like that it won’t damage or stain furniture and leaves behind a pleasant scent.
Eco Defence Rodent Gone Spray
Another natural spray you can use when looking for how to get rid of rats is by Eco Defense. This spray is kid safe, pet safe, and safe for the environment. Again, it uses all natural ingredients to safely repel rats and other rodents from inside your home using essential oils.
That said, some natural sprays may not be as effective if you have rats nesting in your walls, and you may need to spray them repeatedly anywhere you have seen rodent activity.
In some cases, natural sprays are most effective when used with traps or poisons to help get your rat problem under control.
Tomcat Bait Chunx
Are you having a serious rat problem and need to know how to get rid of rats immediately? While poisons may not always be an ideal method of removal, it’s sometimes necessary when dealing with a rat infestation in the home.
The above rat poison by Tomcat is a baited poison that attracts rats and mice using bromethalin. Bromethalin is a highly toxic poison and is dangerous to use around children and pets so we only recommend using it if you have a very severe rat infestation in or around your home.
Bait Block Rodenticide
Another effective poison for how to get rid of rats in a severe infestation are these bait blocks. This is a rodenticide meant to bait, poison, and kill both mice and rats. The active ingredient used is Diphacinone, which again is a highly poisonous toxin that should be used with caution around children and pets.
That said, this poison does come in a tamper resistant bucket, but it should still be stored out of reach of children and pets.
How To Get Rid Of Rats Using Traps
Traps are an effective way to catch rats, and there are plenty of options.
If rats are nesting in your home, it may be necessary to use traps to remove them. There are plenty of trap options to choose from, whether you want to use catch and release live traps or kill traps.
Both methods have their pros and cons. For example, live traps require travel and relocation of rats, and you will need to drive at least five miles from your home before you release them.
However, kill traps require maintenance too, as you must monitor them often to ensure you are disposing of dead rats in a timely manner.
Not sure which method is right for you? Below are a few different traps we have reviewed for you to get a better idea.
Kensizer Catch and Release Rat Trap
If you are looking for how to get rid of rats using a live trap, we recommend looking at the Kensizer rat trap. It uses a trigger loaded door and works for both indoor and outdoor rat problems.
The metal caging is sturdy enough to ensure rats cannot chew their way through and the mesh is small enough that transportation will be safe and simple for you.
RatzFatz Live Cage Rat Trap
Another live trap option we like for how to get rid of rats inside or outside of the home is the RatzFatz catch and release trap. It comes in black or silver and you can order just one trap or two. The traps are sturdy and use a pedal trigger to help trap and keep rats contained until you are ready to release them.
The trap is adjustable as well and you can adjust the sensitivity of the pedal trigger depending on the size of rat or mouse you are trying to trap. This is a catch and release rat trap which will need to be baited.
Havahart One-Door Rat Trap
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We also like this catch and release trap by Havahart because of its unique design. It uses a pedal trigger like the other rat traps on this list, but the door siding is solid and so is the top, making transportation and releasing easy and safe.
Victor Indoor Electronic Rat Trap
If you are looking for how to get rid of rats using traditional kill traps, you may like this indoor electronic rat trap by Victor. The trap kills rats using an electronic shock and allows you to dispose of the dead rats easily and quickly so you can clean and reset the trap for future use.
This trap is small, portable, easy to use and simple to clean. However, it is a kill trap and requires baiting. Furthermore, it should be checked often so you can dispose of dead rats as soon as possible.
Tomcat Rat Snap Trap
A more traditional method for how to get rid of rats are snap traps, like this snap trap by Tomcat. It is specifically designed to kill rats and works both indoors and outdoors. You can use it multiple times, and it’s small size allows you to fit it in tighter spaces more easily.
However, this is a kill trap and requires baiting and consistent monitoring so you can dispose of dead rats regularly.
How To Get Rid Of Rats Using Home Remedies
LIke many rodent pests, rats are repelled by the overwhelming smell of peppermint oil.
Rats are intelligent, curious rodents who, when left to their own devices, can multiply quickly and cause thousands of dollars in structural damage. Luckily, there are plenty of home remedies you can use to help keep rats from destroying your home.
Let’s take a look at some of the best ways to repel and remove rats using products you already have in your kitchen pantry.
- Essential Oils
Rats are repelled by a few different strong smelling oils. Some of the most effective oils you can use to repel rats include castor oil, citronella oil, peppermint oil, and tea tree oil.
Experts recommend soaking cotton balls in these essential oils and placing them around your home where you have noticed rat activity like your basement, attic, crawl space, and in the back of cupboards and cabinets.
- Onions or Garlic
Onions and garlic are strong smelling bulbs that repulse rats and mice. You can slice one fresh onion and place it around entry points and exit points, as well as any places you may have noticed rat activity. However, you will have to throw these onion bits away after two days and replace them with new, fresh onion slices to keep them from rotting. We should also note that onions are toxic to pets.
Garlic is another method you can use for how to get rid of rats, however garlic is also toxic to pets. That said, garlic may require less maintenance as it doesn’t rot as quickly as onions, yet it has the same rat-repelling effect. You can either slice fresh garlic and place it around your home or boil fresh garlic and water together to make a spray. If you have pets in the home, a garlic and water spray is the safest option.
- Instant Potatoes
Using instant potatoes is a pet and kid safe way to poison and kill rats. You can simply spread instant potatoes around entry and exit points or leave it anywhere you notice rat activity.
Once ingested, the instant potato flakes inflate in the rat’s stomach, which in turn kills it. However, this method could result in you having dead rats in your home or in your walls, which could cause other problems if their bodies are not found and disposed of quickly.
The smell of ammonia is strong and unpleasant, so it’s no surprise it would repulse and repel rats. One of the best recipes for how to get rid of rats using ammonia is as follows:
- 1 quarter of water
- Two teaspoons of laundry detergent
- 2 cups of ammonia
- One bowl
Mix the above ingredients into a bowl and leave the bowl in rooms or areas you have noticed rat activity. Of course, use this method very carefully as the above ingredients are toxic to children and pets.
Mothballs are another tried and tested method for how to get rid of rats using home remedies. They have a strong smell and can be purchased at nearly any supermarket or grocery store.
Just put mothballs around your home, near entry and exit points, in attics, crawlspaces and basements to ensure rats and other pests like mice and squirrels stay away.
However, keep in mind that mothballs can be harmful to humans and pets, so use these with caution and keep them out of reach of children.
- Crushed Red Pepper Flakes Or Cayenne Pepper
Crushed red pepper or cayenne pepper work in similar ways and are a great tool you can use when looking for how to get rid of rats using home remedies. Both are great deterrents because they can irritate a rat’s eyes, nose, and paws when walked through.
Simply sprinkle the pepper or cayenne around your home near entry and exit points, in your attic, crawl space, basement, and other places you notice rat activity.
- Introduce Natural Predators
Last but not least, one of the easiest methods you can use for how to get rid of rats is to introduce natural predators. Rats are notoriously frightened of cats, so if you are in the market for a new furry friend, why not adopt a kitty?
If you prefer not to commit to a feline friend, you can always purchase some kitty litter or place hawk or owl feathers around your home in places you notice rat activity. The scent of their natural predators will help repel rats and keep them away.
Rat Behavior And Habits – Facts You Should Know
Rats are popular pets in many American households and are highly trainable and affectionate.
When rats invade our homes and yards, it’s difficult to see them as anything but pests. However, did you know rats actually play a very important role in our ecosystem? Furthermore, many people find rats to be fascinating, loving, and even snuggly companions.
Here are a few interesting facts about rats we bet you didn’t know.
- There are 51 species of rats in the world
That’s right. There are 51 known rat species in the world and rats can be found on every continent except for Antarctica. The most common rat species in America is called the Brown Rat.
- Rats are highly intelligent, with many studies comparing them to dogs
Even wild rats have been known to exhibit incredible memory and the ability to learn. Rats are natural problem solvers, are highly curious, and become very bonded with their people when they are kept as pets.
- Rats are crazy good climbers
In fact, rats can climb straight up brick walls, scale telephone poles, balance on telephone lines, climb trees, and more. They can also jump as high as three feet.
- Rats reportedly attack around 14,000 people a year in the United States
Yeah, they may make great pets, but wild rats can be seriously dangerous. They can also carry a number of deadly diseases. Let’s learn more about the dangers of rats below.
Are Rats Dangerous To People And Pets?
Some rats can be aggressive, and most carry some very serious diseases.
The chances of being attacked by a rat are pretty low. That said, rats do reportidaly attack about 14,000 people a year, as we mentioned above. Rats also carry over 35 diseases, including hantavirus, Salmonella, leptospirosis, choriomeningitis, and Tularemia. Plus, rats carry fleas, which can be a secondary source of illness and disease to humans and pets.
Rats are also responsible for thousands of dollars worth of serious structural damage in homes each year, and can even cause deadly house fires when they chew through electrical wires.
The best way to avoid the dangers of rats is to make sure you take care of any rat infestation you have in your home. You should always wash your hands frequently, keep pantry food in air-tight sealed containers, and never try to pet or touch a wild rat.
How To Get Rid Of Rats For Good- When Is It Time To Call A Professional?
If a rat infestation grows out of control, it may be time to call a professional.
Keep in mind that rats are prolific breeders, and a small infestation can grow overwhelmingly large in a matter of months.
When you’re working on how to get rid of rats, you may need to be prepared to call a professional. A very severe infestation may require the help of a professional to quickly and effectively get rid of the rats. You then may need to contact another expert to help clean and sanitize your home or repair damage caused by the rats.
The biggest sign of a large rat infestation is the smell of rat urine. If you do smell rat urine, it’s time to contact an expert.
Tips On Preventing Future Rat Problems
You can prevent future rat problems by ensuring you caulk and seal exit and entry points.
Now that you know how to get rid of rats, let’s talk about how to keep them from coming back. Taking proactive steps to reduce future rat infestations is an important method in keeping your home safe and rat-free.
Some of the best methods of how to get rid of rats and keep them from coming back are as follows:
- Caulk And Seal Entry And Exit Points
Caulking and sealing not only helps to keep rats out, but it will also help keep other pests from entering your home like squirrels, mice, roaches, spiders, and similar pests.
- Fix Broken Roofs And Seal Crawl Spaces and Attics
Keep in mind most rat infestations begin outside. Rats tend to get into homes through holes in the roof, unsealed crawl spaces, attics, or windows. Do routine home checks and keep up on home maintenance to ensure rats and other pests can’t get into your home.
- Clean Often
Keeping your home clean and uncluttered will help you keep rats and other pests at bay. Sweep often, don’t leave dirty dishes out in the sink, and vacuum up crumbs.
- Keep Pantry Food In Airtight Containers
Sealing your food in airtight containers will not only help you on your mission of how to get rid of rats, but it will keep rats from sniffing out potential food sources.
- Pick Up Fallen Fruit And Vegetables In The Yard
Rats are attracted to homes and yards with fruits and vegetables in the garden because these are natural and easy-to-obtain food sources. You can help reduce the chances of rats in your yard and home by removing fallen fruit and vegetables as often as possible.
- Use Repellents Methods Routinely
Repellents aren’t just important when you are working on how to get rid of rats. Using rat repellents also help keep rats at bay. Whether you use natural repellents or home remedies, using them effectively will help deter and repel future rat issues.
We hope you now have a better idea of how to get rid of rats and keep them from returning to your home. Remember, rats can be dangerous to your health and wellbeing, so it’s important to take action as soon as possible once you notice a rat infestation.
Stay safe and best of luck!
Jack founded our blog after two decades of working in the pest control industry. His vast experience dealing with a wide array of pests allows him to diagnose issues quickly and get to the heart of pest problems quickly and effectively. He has serviced more than 2,000 homes over his career and there is hardly any pest situation that he has not seen before.