How to Get Rid of (and avoid) Rats

Author: Kurt Treftz, Cascade Pest Control

Rats are filthy and often aggressive. Plus they do thousands of dollars ($) in damage to homes and other structures all the time. Finally, they can spread disease.

Obviously, you don’t want rats or other rodents living with you. Rat and rodent control is a necessity to protect your home and your health. But rat control and extermination can be challenging.

Here’s Cascade Pest Control’s list on how to get rid of and avoid rats:

1. Identify the pest as a rat. It’s not always easy. For instance, squirrels too nest in attics and other parts of homes and leave droppings similar to rats. You need to make sure you’re dealing with rats. As for mice, mouse droppings are much smaller and their gnaw marks show tiny teeth compared to rats. Once you’ve established that it’s a rat infestation and not something else, it can be very beneficial to establish whether it’s a Roof Rat or a Norway Rat. Norway Rats have fatter droppings and they most often nest in the ground or under the house in a crawlspace. Roof Rats have ‘thinner’ droppings and are much more likely to nest in the attic or other elevated space.

2. Locate the rat activity and, if possible, locate the rat nest(s).

  1. Activity— Rat droppings are the best sign to look for, although other signs include rat gnawing and chewing marks—often on plastic garbage lids, and greasy rub marks where they brush up against a (light colored) surface. Rat activity could be anywhere, and although it’s not their nest, it’s likely where they’ll return again for traps or baits.
  2. Rat Nests—Sometimes you stumble into a rat nest while moving a pile of firewood or cleaning out a closet or shed. But most times rat nests are difficult to locate as they are often deep within crawlspaces, attics and even walls or between floors. Or they are nesting deep in the home’s insulation. Obviously locating a nest allows you to disrupt their comfort…or, help you better place traps and bait.

3. Eliminate food sources—Make it tough for rats to eat and thrive in your home.

  1. Insure your cat or dog’s food dish is empty when your pet is not eating. Even the smallest amount of pet food can sustain a rat for a long time
  2. Make sure your garbage can lid is always tightly closed and sealed. And don’t just pile it high when you have an extra amount of garbage. Promptly clean all spilled garbage. [Encourage your neighbors to do the same because rats will easily travel up to 150 feet from the nest in your home to eat at a neighbor’s house!]

4. Eliminate Easy Access for rats

  1. Close entry holes. ¼” hardware cloth is a good barrier to stop rats.
  2. Trim tree branches. Rats, especially roof rats, love to climb up on the the roof to access attic and other spaces to nest. Trim tree branches and avoid planting climbing vines that go up your outside wall to the eave or a balcony.

5. Set Traps. There are at least three kinds of traps for rats—snap traps, glue boards, and live traps. Trapping rats insures that you know where they are…and that they don’t die in a wall or some other place that results in a terrible odor.

  1. Snap traps are most effective and economical. Live traps are expensive and they are larger so they need more space.
  2. With live traps you catch the rat alive but then you’re faced with the ethical and legal problems of releasing a rat someplace.
  3. Blue boards are generally not recommended for rats as the glue board is itself a hazard and rats often don’t die but just remain glued in place.

When using rat traps you also have to select an attractant, a bait to entice them. Here are few successful rat attractants:

 – Peanut butter (or any nut or seed butter

 – Bacon or bacon grease

 – A slice of apple (especially for roof rats)

 – A tiny amount of canned fish or sardines (especially near lakes or salt water)

 – Don’t bother with cheese—it might work, but mostly in cartoons.

TRAP SAFETY—traps have their own safety issues. Be careful!

 – Snap traps can be a hazard to small pets, small children and the nose of a large dog.

 – Glue boards can be a suffocation hazard to small children, and they can get entangled in the hair of dogs and cats.

 – All trap types need to be checked periodically to avoid nasty smells and flies.

6. Rat Poisons, or Rodenticides—Rat poisoned baits are (most often) intended to kill rats and are classified, along with mouse poisons, as rodenticides. Rodenticides have their place in controlling and, especially, in preventing rat infestations. Rat poisons, when appropriately used, only allow a dosage that is harmful to rats, yet is generally not enough to be lethal to larger animals such as a cat or dog. However, rodenticides have a certain risk which must be mitigated. It is best to have a professional handle, apply and properly place rodenticides. Professional pest control operators most often use “tamper resistant bait stations” to keep pets, children and non-target animals from the bait.
If you do use rat or mouse poison—do not place it or store it within reach of small children or pets. Federal law prohibits misuse of a rodenticide outside approved label instructions and safety precautions.

7. Contract with a professional Pest Control company. If you want to learn and perform rat control on your own you’ll face plenty of challenges and have to get up close and personal with rodent filth as you inspect tight spaces to inspect a house or other structure. But if it’s not your thing to take rat and rodent control on as a persistent hobby you best call a qualified and licensed pest control company. Training for rodent control and using traps and bait safely may be best left to professionals.

Professional Rodent and Rat Control

Cascade pest control specializes in rat, mouse and rodent control. We’ve treated many thousands of home and businesses for rat infestations for about forty years in Washington State. Cascade places great emphasis on training our technicians in all aspects of rat control and rodent prevention. Cascade Pest Control provides rat control, mouse control, art/rodent exclusion, rodent damage assessment, and ongoing rodent protection service to prevent rat and mouse infestations from happening.

Cascade Pest Control provides rodent inspections and the control of rats and mice in Tacoma, Greater Seattle, Bellevue and the Eastside, Everett, Skagit & Island counties, Bellingham, Leavenworth & Wenatchee.

Western Washington 888-989-8979

Chelan County/Wenatchee Valley 509-590-9243

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