How to Get Rid of Rats
Rats are capable of hosting many parasites and are common vectors of deadly diseases. The black plague was responsible for killing over 25 million individuals, where rats and rodents were labeled as the primary hosts. Rats are much larger than mice and are most active the hours after sunset and before dawn. The two most common in the United States are the Norway and Roof rat, the key difference being a preference of shelter. The roof rat prefers to inhabit attic spaces, but both are capable of climbing and burrowing. For the most part, rats are scavengers and require up to 10% of their body weight in food per day. Another point worth noting in rodent control is that rats must have daily access to water.
Rats will obtain moisture by licking the condensation off pipes and eating foods around the home. Dog food, as an example, is packed with moisture and can offset the need for a viable water source. Damage to furniture and household plants is often witnessed in residences with rodent activity, as is the abundance of tiny black poop pellets. Gnaw marks on such items is common with rats and other rodents and as part of their foraging behavior, they will sample multiple objects within a home before settling on a consistent source of food. As a result, one of the key components in rodent control encompasses the use of poisonous baits or rodenticides. The other component is proper sealing and exclusion.
Before you can get rid of rats, it’s important to narrow down their point of entry. How did they enter the home? The most common point of entry is through the garage, as it's one of the most poorly sealed areas in any home. Crawlspaces provide shelter from heat and rain, are high in moisture, and popular locations for breeding. Adults only require a hole the size of a quarter to gain entrance. They are capable of entering attics through climbing up neighboring trees and downspouts. Check around doors to make sure they are properly fitted and sealed.
The trapping of rats is more difficult than it seems. Neophobia is the fear of new objects, an instinct that causes rats to avoid newly placed traps and objects. Outside of basic foraging behaviors, rats will follow a basic path throughout the home. This path is often delineated by a series of droppings. Traps like glue boards (big sticky boards lined with a strong adhesive) are excellent for catching rats and mice and commonly used in the professional industry.
- Inspect every room and every closet. Rats are natural burrowers and can gain access to the inner walls of your home by destroying the carpet in unused closets. This is very common.
- Rats need to drink water every day. A good starting point for any rodent inspect is to look around common sources of moisture. This includes behind refridgerators.
- Follow the rat droppings. Placement of traps and baits should be limited to areas where activity is prevalent. Peanut butter or sunflower seeds can be combined with glue boards to increase their allure.
- Baits should have zero competition. Make sure any items left on your pantry floor are out of reach, rats are excellent climbers. Remove bags or bowls of pet food as well. Any bait containing Bromadiolone at 0.005% concentration should prove to be effective.
Baits can be purchased at nearly any market. Make sure to keep any rat poison out of reach of children and animals. It's best to avoid using baits inside altogether, because if the rat dies inside your walls, it will smell terrible for weeks. Baiting in attics is typically an exception. However, when placed around crawlspaces, there is some risk of a lingering stench. Snap traps can also be used in place of glue boards, but many find this to be inhumane. Sticky traps, when combined with olive oil, will lose their adhesiveness allowing homeowners the option to catch and release.
To prevent future occurrence, rat bait should be placed around the perimeter of the home in large secure boxes to keep it dry. They should be replaced every 2 months or they will get moldy and lose their effectiveness. One common household remedy to securing the attic from re-infestation is to stuff the downspouts full of steel wool. On some occasions, infestations will be limited to detached portions of the home, like shops and sheds. Bags of bird seed should be placed on inaccessible shelves and replaced with sticky traps.