How Do You Get Rid of Rats?

by | Jun 18, 2024

Rats are unwelcome guests in any home because they cause property damage and pose significant health risks due to the diseases they can spread. These adaptable and resilient creatures are experts at surviving in various environments which makes it extremely challenging to eliminate them once they’ve settled in. If you’re dealing with a rat infestation, you’re likely searching for effective solutions to get rid of these pests and keep them from returning.

Getting rid of rats requires a multifaceted approach that starts by addressing the root of the problem: removing their access to food, water, and shelter. By understanding rat behavior and the reasons they invade human spaces, you can implement effective measures to drive them out and prevent future infestations. From identifying signs of a rat problem to employing various methods such as traps, natural predators, and exclusion techniques, this guide will provide you with all the information you need to reclaim your home and maintain a rat-free environment.

Table of Contents

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How to Know if You Are Dealing with Rats

Knowing whether you are dealing with rats is crucial for effectively addressing the problem. Rats can be distinguished from other pests like mice by several telltale signs. Identifying these signs early can help you take prompt action to eliminate the infestation and prevent further damage.

Here are some common signs that indicate you may have a rat problem [1]:

  • Live rat sightings
  • Black pellets that are roughly a quarter to half an inch long
  • 1 – 2 inch holes in baseboards and other building materials that have gnawed edges
  • Areas along the base of walls that are covered in smudge marks due to oil and dirt on a rat’s fur
  • Scratching noises coming from inside walls, attics, and vents
  • Odd behavior from dogs and cats as they notice rat activity due to heightened senses
  • Burrows openings near foundations
  • Ammonia smell from rat urine
  • Rat nests that are made of shredded materials like paper, cloth, and insulation.

By looking for these indicators, you can determine if rats are the culprits behind the disturbances in your home and take appropriate measures to address the infestation.

Why You Should Get Rid of Rats

Rats pose significant risks to your health, safety, and property. It’s essential to act swiftly once you identify their presence to prevent these problems from escalating. Here are some compelling reasons why you should get rid of rats promptly:

  • Rapid Reproduction: Rats multiply quickly. A female rat can start reproducing at just two months old and will start giving birth to a litter every six to eight weeks. This rate of rapid reproduction can result in a minor infestation turning into a major problem in no time.
  • Health Risks: Rats carry diseases [2] that can be transmitted to humans and pets. These include Hantavirus, Leptospirosis, Salmonellosis, and more. Their urine and droppings can also worsen conditions like allergies and asthma.
  • Property Damage: Rats can cause extensive damage to your home by gnawing through electrical wires, insulation, and even structural components. This can result in expensive repairs and increase the risk of electrical fires.
  • Food Contamination: Rats can contaminate food storage and preparation areas which can result in diseases spreading. This contamination poses serious health risks, especially in homes and restaurants.
  • Unpleasant Odors: The smell of rat urine is strong and unpleasant and can permeate your home after enough has been collected.

How to Get Rid of Rats Outside

Getting rid of rats outside requires a combination of natural deterrents and habitat modification. One effective method is to introduce natural predators into your backyard. Adopting an outdoor cat or installing an owl nesting box can help keep rat populations in check [3], as these predators will scare away and reduce the number of rats through predation. Owls are nocturnal hunters which makes them especially useful for tackling rat populations because rats are primarily active at night. Additionally, eliminating rat burrows is important as it deprives rats of shelter. These burrows are typically a few inches wide and can be filled in by placing soil as far inside as possible then compacting the loose dirt with a shovel.

Getting rid of rats inside your home involves staying vigilant and employing effective methods such as setting traps followed by sealing entry points and maintaining a clean environment to ensure they don’t return once they’re eliminated. Here, we’ll explore some of the best techniques to help you achieve a rat-free home.

Rat Traps

rat in a live trap

Rat traps are some of the most effective and straightforward methods for eliminating rats from your home. By strategically placing traps where you suspect rat activity, you can significantly reduce their population. Here are the different types of rat traps you can use:

  • Snap Traps: These traditional traps are widely used because of their effectiveness and affordability. They work by snapping shut when a rat triggers the mechanism, instantly killing the rat that activates the trap. Snap traps are best placed along walls and in areas where you have seen signs of rat activity [4].
  • Sticky Traps: Also known as glue traps, these consist of adhesive-coated boards or trays that immobilize rats when they step on them. While these are effective, they are considered inhumane because the rat can suffer a prolonged death from dehydration and starvation [5].
  • Electric Traps: These modern traps lure rats into an enclosed chamber where they are killed instantly by a high-voltage shock when they step or come into contact with a metal panel that is connected to an electric current. Electric traps are considered more humane than snap or sticky traps because they ensure a quick death. They are also easy to use and can be safely placed in homes with children and pets.
  • Live Catch Traps: These humane traps capture rats alive which allow you to release them far from your home. Live traps are ideal for those who prefer not to kill the rats. Ensure to release the captured rats at least a few miles away to prevent them from returning to your home.

Choosing the right type of trap depends on your preferences and the severity of your rat problem. Each type has its advantages and drawbacks, so consider your specific situation to determine the most effective approach.

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Using natural predators is an effective and eco-friendly method to control rat populations. One of the most well-known predators of rats is the domestic cat. Cats have a natural instinct to hunt rodents and having a cat in your home or yard can significantly reduce the number of rats. Barn cats or outdoor cats are particularly skilled hunters and can help to keep rat infestations under control. By encouraging natural predators, you can maintain a balanced ecosystem and keep rat numbers in check without relying on harmful chemicals or traps.


Baits are another effective method for controlling rat populations. The primary bait types include anticoagulants and non-anticoagulants [6]. Anticoagulants prevent clotting and cause internal bleeding and non-anticoagulants affect the rats’ nervous system. Depending on the bait type, the rat poison results in either organ failure or internal hemorrhages. Bait stations can be used alone or in conjunction with other control methods to maximize effectiveness but once poison baits are consumed, a rat’s lifespan is reduced dramatically.

rat poison fact sheet

Here are some common types of rat baits and their uses:

  • Tamper-Resistant Bait Stations: These enclosed boxes hold rodenticide securely, preventing accidental poisoning of non-target animals and children. They are ideal for use in both indoor and outdoor settings.
  • Single-Feed Baits: These baits are highly effective in quickly reducing rat populations because they are designed to kill rats with just one feeding [7]. They come in various forms including pellets, meal, and blocks.
  • Liquid and Soft Baits: These baits can be particularly attractive to rats, providing an alternative to solid bait options. They are useful in dry environments where water sources may be limited.

How to Prevent Rats

Preventing rats from invading your home or yard requires a combination of maintaining cleanliness, removing attractants, and sealing potential entry points is essential. Here are some strategies to keep rats at bay:

5 steps to preventing rat infographic
  • Maintain Cleanliness: Regularly clean up food spills inside and promptly remove any food debris that falls during outdoor activities. Ensure all trash and debris are placed in tightly sealed trash cans and avoid leaving them out overnight. Clean pet droppings from the yard daily to eliminate potential food sources for rats.
  • Seal Entry Points: Check your home for gaps and holes, particularly around foundations, doors, and windows. Seal any openings and fill gaps in walls and floors with steel wool or copper mesh to prevent rats from chewing their way through again.
  • Remove Things That Attract Rats: Put away seeds, grains, and pet food in tightly sealed containers made of metal, hard plastic, or glass. Use secure composters and wildlife-proof trash bins. Clean up fallen fruit from around trees and use no spill bird feeders. Empty or cover anything that contains standing water that rats can drink. This includes bird baths, water bowls, and farm equipment.
  • Eliminate Hiding Places: Keep your yard tidy by removing weeds, trimming overgrown bushes, and keeping the grass short. Clear away trash, wood piles, and brush near buildings. Rats prefer dense vegetation for hiding, so a well-maintained yard is less appealing to them.
  • Use Natural Rat Repellents: Plant citronella and lavender around your home’s perimeter and keep mint in pots around your home to repel rats naturally. Regularly spray peppermint oil around your home’s foundation or sprinkle cinnamon or cayenne pepper around your foundation to repel rats.

Contact Absolute Pest Management if You Are Dealing with Rats

If you’re dealing with a rat infestation and need professional rodent control, don’t hesitate to contact Absolute Pest Management for your rat control needs. Our expert team is equipped with the knowledge and tools to effectively eliminate rats from your home and prevent future infestations. We offer comprehensive rat control solutions tailored to your specific needs. We have offices in Austin and Buda, Texas and serve all of the surrounding communities. Reach out to Absolute Pest Management today to schedule your first inspection and take the step towards reclaiming your home from these unwelcome rats.

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Getting Rid of Rats FAQs

  • How do I get rid of rats ASAP?
    • To get rid of rats as quickly as possible, use a combination of snap traps and bait stations placed strategically where you’ve noticed rat activity. Seal any entry points to prevent more rats from entering and maintain a clean environment to eliminate food sources. For immediate and effective results, consider contacting a professional pest control service like Absolute Pest Management.
  • What do rats hate the most?
    • Rats hate strong smells such as peppermint oil, ammonia, and vinegar which can be used as natural repellents. They also dislike disruptions to their environment like removing food sources and sealing entry points. Keeping your home clean and clutter-free further deters rats from making it their habitat.
  • What keeps rats away permanently?
    • To keep rats away permanently, maintain a clean environment by regularly removing food sources and clutter. Seal all entry points with materials like steel wool or caulk to prevent them from getting inside. Additionally, use natural repellents like peppermint oil and maintain well-trimmed outdoor spaces to eliminate hiding spots.
  • What scent will keep rats away?
    • Rats are repelled by strong scents such as peppermint oil, ammonia, and vinegar. Using these scents around entry points and areas where rats are active can help deter them from entering or staying in your home. Regularly refreshing these scents can enhance their effectiveness in keeping rats away.









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