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Professional advice and resources for nuisance rat problems.

How To Get Rid of Rats

SUMMARY: Step-by-step guide for getting rid of rats in a house or building:

Step 1 - Inspect the entire house or building, and find any and all entry holes, as small as 1/2 inch.

Step 2 - As you find these areas, seal them shut with steel mesh, which rats cannot chew through.

Step 3 - Only after the home is entirely sealed shut, go into the attic space and set wooden snap traps. Bait is not important, but location is crucial. Set on rat runways, marked with droppings.

Step 4 - Every day, remove trapped rat bodies, and re-set traps. In just 2 or 3 days, all will be caught.

SUCCESS - Once you hear no more scurrying noises in the ceiling or walls, you know you've done it!
FAILURE - If you still have rats, it means you failed steps 1 & 2. You must find the remaining holes.

Step 5 - Optional. Clean and disinfect the attic, which is now full of dangerous rat urine, feces, etc.

DO NOT - Use rat poison. It not only fails to get the job done, it usually causes extra problems.
SHOULD NOT - Use glue boards. They aren't very effective, and they're inhumane.
DO NOT - Use any kind of repellent spray, powder, sound box, flashing lights. These gimmicks fail.

Need rat removal in your town? Now serving over 400 US locations - updated for 2016. After you read the below information, in the event that you wish to hire a rat removal company, you may want to see how much does rat removal cost?

How To Get Rid of Rats: There is a great deal of wrong information and ignorance regarding rat control. Many extermination companies and people resort to poison use for rat control, and this is a big mistake.  For a list of many reasons why you should never use poison to get rid of rats, read my rat poison page. In short, poison does not solve the problem and creates many additional problems. 

The proper way to solve a rat problem is by stopping the root of the problem.  If you want to get rid of rats in your house or attic, you must first find out how they are getting in, and seal off those entry points permanently.  Once that is done, the rats should by physically trapped and removed from the building, as seen in my photo to the right.  It's also a good idea to clean and decontaminate the mess that they've made.

Please read my below information, and my rat blog which is full of examples of rat removal jobs I've done, and is useful information regarding rat and mouse control.
Click for my rat removal photo gallery.
Click my awesome rat removal journal blog!

To get rid of rats permanently, you need to follow four important steps, as shown in the below graphic. First, you need to perform a full inspection of the home, from top to bottom - under the house and on the roof, anywhere rats or mice can find an entry point. A mouse in the attic may have gotten in at ground level. Next, every last entry point that rats and mice can use - and they can squeeze through amazingly small areas, must be sealed. Seal with steel, something rodents can't chew through. They can even chew through concrete. Next, you need to perform rat extermination, but under no circumstances use poison. What is the best way of how to kill rats? Not with poison, but with actual rodent trapping, with snap traps. There are many effective brands, but with many years' experience, I like the wooden Victors the best. If you have rodents in the attic, then you have to set the traps in the attic, on the rat runways. Trap placement is very important. Look for the droppings, runways, and brown fur grease. Rodent removal is a very exact science, and it must be done correctly if you want permanent rat eradication.

Rat info: The most common nuisance rats are the more northern Norway Rat, or Brown Rat, and the more southern Roof Rat, also known as the Black Rat. Rats are commonly associated with urban areas and people. They will go wherever they can find food and shelter, and that often includes buildings. Although they may look large, they need only a tiny hole (the size of a quarter) or a 1/2 inch crack to fit through. Black and Norway rats will consume many different types of plant and animal foods. They also contaminate food with their urine and feces. Rats are carriers of many different types of diseases, they contaminate food, and sometimes bite. Rats are primarily nocturnal. They keep a surprisingly small home range, and don't wander about very far. Even though they often live for less than a year, they can and do breed in large quantities.

Mouse info: The house mouse weighs less than an ounce. It can fit in a crack of only a quarter inch. They can and do get everywhere. If your house has food and has any small openings, eventually mice will find their way in. House mice eat many types of food but prefer seeds and grain. Mice are primarily nocturnal, they can dig, they gnaw like all rodents do, and they can produce a tremendous number of offspring. The methods of control are the same as rats, except that even greater care must be taken to find the small entry areas.

Top 10 Tips for How to Get Rid of Rats:
  1. The most important thing, BY FAR, is to identify their points of entry into your house and attic. Seal all these entry holes shut, and the problem is solved permanently.
  2. When inspecting the house for entry holes, look at EVERYTHING, from the ground to the entire roof. Vents, pipe entry, A/C chase, ridge caps, every possible thing, as small as a 1/2 inch gap.
  3. When sealing shut the entry holes, use a combination of steel screen (1/4 inch hardware mesh is good) and a sealant like caulk to block off air flow, which rats use to detect openings.
  4. Only AFTER the entry holes have been sealed shut should you bother to start trapping and removing the rats. Beforehand is futile, and it's much easier afterward.
  5. There are many types of rat traps, from glue boards to cage traps to electric traps, but the wooden Victor Easy Set trap is the most effective trap.
  6. When trapping, bait is not important, but use a peanut butter smeared on the trip pan. The placement of the trap, along edges and along known rat runways (look for droppings) is the most important factor.
  7. Never use poison. It is horrible for both you and rats, and it's totally ineffective. Not all rats eat it. New rats just keep coming. Rats that die will die in your house, and cause a horrible odor. It does nothing to solve the problem long-term.
  8. Can a housecat or two help? If you have an outdoor cat who is a good hunter, this will keep rat populations down. But it's not foolproof.
  9. Should you keep your property clean, and free from clutter, garbage, or a lot of plant debris? That may help a little, but rats will also live in pristine, clean environments.
  10. Do repellents like predator urine or mothballs or sound machines help? No, not at all! They are sold online, with glowing inside job reviews, but they don't work. Go ahead and try them.

Nuisance concerns: Most people complain first about the noises that the hear in the walls and attic, the scampering and running and sometimes scratching.  They chew on wires, which can cause a fire hazard and anything else they can get their teeth on.. They eat your food and contaminate far more than they eat, often spreading diseases that pets and humans can contract. They leave droppings in the attic and everywhere they roam, and these droppings are also often disease ridden. They spread filth and pestilence, and many diseases are contracted via rats.  Some examples of rat diseases that can be spread by rodents are Salmonellosis (acute food poisoning), Rickettsia Pox, Hantavirus (via droppings), tapeworm, infectious jaundice, and tularemia. I highly recommend attic decontamination services if you've had rats living in your attic. I also recent wrote some articles about rodents in the walls of homes and buildings, including rats in the wall and how to get rid of mice in the wall.

Wondering how to get rid of rats? There is no magic spray or device that you can use to make rodents in the attic or house go away. Some people try to sell various rat or mouse repellants such as predator urine, such as coyote or fox urine to get rid of mice, but that doesn't work. They also try to sell ultrasonic sound emitters. These devices are worthless at eliminating rats. Some old wive's tales recommend the use of mothballs or ammonia-soaked rags to make them leave, but I've been to countless homes where these techniques failed - biologists know that these attempts won't work. The ONE AND ONLY WAY to take care of your problem is with trapping and removal of the animals, and in sealing up buildings to keep rats out. If you need to find a professional trapper in your hometown, just click our comprehensive list of hundreds of rat removal professionals, and you can have your problem quickly taken care of!

Above is a photo of a rat in an attic, running along the white blown-in insulation. I installed steel screen behind these ground-based vents in this house, and the rats were no longer able to get inside this house. It's okay for rats to live outside. There's no way to stop that. But if you want to get rid of rats in your house, or your attic, ceiling, walls, or any other part of a building, you have to find their entry holes and install a steel repair that will block them outside permanently. This is not an easy process, but it is the only effective way to solve a rodent problem permanently. No need to deal with years of ineffective and smelly (not to mention inhumane) poison or never-ending trapping. Seal the building shut properly, and the problem is solved forever, within a week or less. It's the only way to go! Ignore all the lousy advice online trying to sell you gimmicks like poison or sound machines or repellents or fancy traps. Just seal them out, and done!

Remember, you can use my above how to guide, and follow the five steps for getting rid of rats, if you want to know how to solve the rat problem yourself. But it is not very easy for people without experience. I am a professional who has performed hundreds of rat removal jobs, and it took me more than a year, and over 50 jobs, before I really started to get the hang of it. There are many subtleties when it comes to building architecture, rat behavior, locations of rat runways in attics, etc. Rats are creatures of habit, and getting to know their tendencies matters a great deal in solving the problem effectively and permanently. For this reason, although I do often encourage people to do-it-yourself in life, with rat removal, I am certain that a professional, with experience, is the best option.

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