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Rats: How to Get Rid of Rats for Good!

Rat populations, specifically Norway and Roof rats, are on the rise all over the United States, particularly in urban areas. Known as carriers of disease, these creatures are drawn to areas of dense human population where they can easily find food and places to establish nests.

While historically associated with the spread of bubonic plague, rats do not themselves transmit the frightening disease. The creatures are instead the means by which the fleas that carry the plague pathogen are exposed to humans.

Rats do spread other diseases which put human health and safety at risk. These include leptospirosis (which damages liver and kidneys) spread by their urine; Lymphocytic choriomeningitis (viral illness that can have long term physical effects) transmitted through both rat saliva and urine; and rat bite fever. Most of these diseases and illnesses are also transmittable through rat feces.

The very idea of a rat infestation is the stuff of nightmares for most of the general public and the first impulse is to kill the rats or find someone who will. The pest control industry is seeing rapid job growth due to the increase in rat infestations nationwide.

There are humane and inhumane methods for rat control. Humane techniques may or may not result in the death of the animal; inhumane means end inevitably in death, usually prolonged and painful.

Humane Rat Control Methods

Animal rights advocates recommend attempting to live in harmony with rat species whenever possible. This is accomplished by rat-proofing a property to make it less attractive to rodents on the theory that prevention of a problem is always the cheapest and most effective way of dealing with it.

When animals must be removed from an already infested property animal rights activists suggest the use of non-lethal traps. These traps capture the animals alive and unharmed and must be immediately followed by the release of the rats outdoors. Release does not mean dumping the rats miles away from point of capture but rather within 100 yards of the original location. Rats released farther away than this are more likely to die or be killed due to their unfamiliarity with their surroundings.

Live capture traps must be checked frequently—as often as hourly—to protect the rats from injury, dehydration and starvation. Release should also occur as quickly as possible to avoid stressing the animals to the point of injury and death.

DOING IT Humanely and Permanently

When there is no alternative to a rat infestation other than extermination, there are means and methods that are considered more humane; dispatching the animal quickly and as painlessly as possible. Most of these involve direct contact with the animal and involve dispatching rats one at a time.Many people find it difficult to regard rats and mice as anything other than dangerous pests that should be killed without conscience and which are unworthy of any kind of compassion.

• Asphyxiation: Euthanasia using carbon dioxide (CO2) is the only method approved by the American Veterinary Association for home use. Vinegar and baking soda when mixed together produce C023 gas. When combined in the proper amounts these common household ingredients produce C02 levels that will first anesthetize then kill the rodent. In addition to the vinegar and baking soda, an airtight container must be secured to contain the carbon dioxide gas and animal.

• Cats are natural predators of rodents; rat terriers were specifically bred over centuries to catch and kill rats. How humane this method can be is a point of debate, but it has the advantage of being the most natural way to totally get rid of these rodents.

Snap trap rat traps: This is the old tried and true mechanical mousetrap technology, only with a larger trap to accommodate the species’ larger size. If properly loaded and set the spring action of the trap kills instantaneously.

• Electrocution traps: are fairly new inventions marketed as a “green” alternative to the use of rat poison. These devices lure the animal into a containment chamber and automatically administer a lethal electric shock.

• Cervical dislocation involves physically restraining the rat belly down on a hard surface. A quick, decisive yank on the tail that results in the sound of ripping or popping should result in a quick death. This is not a method for the squeamish and if not performed correctly can result in great suffering for the animal.

Even these so called humane methods of rat extermination have significant drawbacks. Cervical dislocation requires having first mastered the technique so that death is instantaneous and involves direct contact with the rat; asphyxiation requires getting the ratios of vinegar to baking soda exactly right and snap traps may result in the animal being caught by paw or tail rather than killed outright resulting in great suffering.

Non-Humane Rat Control Methods

These include:There are any number of methods for killing rats which are not only inhumane; most are downright violent and some are illegal.

• Blunt-force trauma: this method of dispatching a rat is considered the least humane and is prohibited by law in many jurisdictions. Blunt force trauma can be administered by picking a rat up by the tail and bashing its head against a wall, placing the rat in a sack and striking with a mallet or hammer. Usually the animal is not killed with the first blow and must be repeatedly struck.

Shooting with a projectile: While this might seem more humane than blunt force this method depends on hitting the rat in the brain stem on the first shot using a BB or air gun, or using guns that fire bullets. There will be blood and tissue splatter which can spread disease; suffering will be extreme if the first shot is not a kill shot. There is always the possibility of missing the target entirely and endangering others with a stray shot or ricochet.

• Freezing rats alive: placing a rat in a container and putting it in the freezer may seem more humane than shooting or beating it to death, but it is not a quick and painless death for the animal.

• Sticky glue traps are trays or boards which have been sprayed with industrial strength adhesives. These devices capture rats and mice when the creatures walk into or across them. Death takes days and is usually the result of a combination of dehydration, starvation, exhaustion and stress. Struggling may result in tissue tearing and other trauma. These types of traps are cheap, but can also trap beloved pets and beneficial animals and insects.

• Drowning: Again, less violent and seemingly more painless than other methods, but still inhumane due to the time it takes a rat to drown (which can be several minutes).

• Rat Poison: although still used by many consumers and pest control companies, rat poison does not provide a quick or painless death. Whether anti-coagulant based or chemical, poisons can take up to a week to actually kill the animal during which time they will suffer horrendously.

Rat poisons and sticky glue traps are currently still legal means of extermination in most areas, but the use of other inhumane methods of killing rats can and does result in legal fines and jail time in many jurisdictions.

Best Way to Get Rid of THESE CRITTERS according to…

Animal rights advocates such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) advocate means and methods which do not involve death. Killing rats according to these animal activists only removes the problem temporarily—get rid of one and another will inevitably and quickly take its place.

First and foremost, these groups stress the importance of controlling the problem before it begins by reducing the attractiveness of a location to rats. Making a house impervious to rats is the single most important action that a property owner can take to prevent rat infestations.

Suggested actions to take to rat-proof a structure include:

• Keeping living areas clean and free of easily accessible food and water sources. This means cleaning up food spills as they occur; storing food items in gnaw proof containers; keeping food preparation areas diligently free of grease and food debris; repairing leaks in water pipes and fixtures immediately on discovery and avoiding areas of standing water as much as possible in and around the house.

• Sealing off rat points of entry in buildings and homes. Rats are opportunistic and ingenious; they take advantages of cracks and crevices as small as a quarter to gain access to structures. Roof rats have also been observed using phone lines to gain entry via small openings in house eaves. Basements with wooden floors and openings in building foundations are other points of vulnerability.

• Do not feed pets outdoors or have food dishes permanently positioned outside the house. If there is no alternative to outside feeding, pick up dishes and food debris promptly and thoroughly after pets have finished eating. When storing pet (or human) food in sheds, garages or basements sturdy plastic, glass and metal containers must be used.

• Do not maintain a birdfeeder near the house. The spillage from bird feeders is a huge attractant to rats. Either feed birds only in times of severe weather when they cannot forage for themselves or station feeders away from house, garage and other outbuildings.

• Keep grass cut and bushes at least 18 inches away from the outside of the house. This exposes points of available entry and makes it more difficult for rats to roam about unobserved. This action will also reveal burrows and nests near the house and should help with removing rats in backyards. Rats like most wild creatures avoid high exposure areas.

• Keep woodpiles away from the sides of homes and garages. Wood stacked against the side of a structure can allow rats to burrow into structures unseen or hide existing points of entry. This will pre-emptively eliminate the possibility of rats in walls by cutting off a prime avenue of access.

Ideally, these simple, effective measures result in natural population control by denying rats sustenance and shelter. Rats can and do live in areas of high human population density undetected and without creating significant public health hazards when these methods are assiduously employed.

35 Responses to Rats: How to Get Rid of Rats for Good!

  1. Mary says:

    My barn has become infested with a large number of rats – 40 plus and still reproducing. I believe this is due to chicken feed that I was not able to clean up during a very cold winter. I think a DIY method is not suitable for this many. Friends want me to sue poison but I do not want to. I am think of hiring a rat catcher expert who uses snap traps and guarantees his work.

    Can you give me advice on the best way to proceed.

  2. John says:

    Kill all RATS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Death to the Devils critters!!!

    • Sylvester says:

      I have huge rats that’ve chewed through a solid wooden door to enter an outside storage room, chewed their way into the wooden eaves, into two different parts of my roof. I deposit poison, wait a few days then seal up the holes with aluminum/metal sheeting, cut to size and foam stuff sealant. They just move to another part of the house!I have a cat and dog, but keep them away because of the poison. Yes, kill ALL rats! Humane, nothing. They serve no useful purpose, just cause damage and spread disease.

  3. Tina says:

    rats have become rife around and in my chicken houses and run?? How can I get rid of them ??

  4. Cynthia says:

    I think I have rats under my shed unfortunately it’s NOT. On a cement slab. I have a dog but these critters are wicked quick. I don’t want to use poisons because of my dog and I don’t really want her to catch them, afraid of diseases.

    I’m thinking of putting chicken wire down into ground all around the shed but how deep do I have to go? I took my dog away for the weekend and my husband caught 4 in rat traps. Ugh!

  5. Stephie says:

    :( I don’t want to make any rats suffer. I had pet rats when I was younger, and while I know there’s a difference between domestic and wild rats, I never want to hurt an animal. I can’t believe that those non-humane methods have actually been used by people, those are awful. Cervical dislocation is absolutely horrendous and disgusting. I’ll try to rat-proof my home first, but if I still have trouble, I’ll contact my local humane society and ask them for advice on what they suggest.

    • Law says:

      Wild rats and pets are the same, however they can become problematic due to fast rate of breeding. I had a company seal up our home after I humanely caught them in a humane trap.I release them in a colony we created far away from people but near a river in the country. The colony we made was just little rat houses for their shelter. While others may think relocation is inhumane because it’s unfamiliar to them, I feel it’s my best option to prevent infestation and suffering from Neighbors poisoning them and to place them back into the ecosystem, nature’s life cycle all while giving them the best shot to survive by the place they’re taken, shelter we provided, at the same place together. The colony houses we built are plastic containers with entry hole and emergency exit hole with torn tshirts inside. They can be hung in same tree, or in brushy area near water source. Don’t relocate during rainy time. They need to get acquainted with new place with less hindrance as possible. I trap many at a time to relocate together. After each one I catch. I empty the trap into large plastic trash can that has the rat house already in the trash can with food and a small bowl of water with a rock in it so it won’t tip over. After a night of catching several, we make a trip to this same location. It’s an easy release because they are always in their little rat house together by the time we arrive. We take the trash can in our jeep or van to location, once there, take trash can to the colony site, then simply take out the rat house and place it among other rat houses or hang in tree. This may be a lot of work for some but there is no other way for me because I can’t kill them. Knowing that they’re back in nature with some survival help in place,I’m at peace with it because nature is God’s design and I just give it over to HIM without me having to snuff out any creatures life. These rats have never been in our home but in the attic, probably because of our cats. We only had to do this a few times a year until we had the attic sealed. The process has become very simple and quick once we established the “how to”. Even though our house is sealed, we still do this because neighbors poison and they show up in our backyard dieing for days so when we start seeing them around ( cuz I feed birds) we start ‘operation rat relocate’ once again.I hope this helps someone(: haters need no reply, I do me & you do you, boo (: except for the caring who have helpful tips for me(:

      • Dana says:

        Do you mind sharing how you catch several at a time? I have what sounds like the same issue as you and just want to get them out of my house before any real damage is done. Also, considering how easily they get in I’m not sure how to ‘seal’ my house for prevention. Its just me in my house and I’m a little scared of the dark attic.

  6. Anthony says:

    My sister has a rat in her backyard coming from a neighbor’s yard and her grandson plays in the yard. What can be done to get rid of the rat?

  7. M says:

    Maybe adopt a few rescued feral cats. Some feral cat rescues look for people with barns to take care of cats they rescued that have been vaccinated and fixed. Housing a few of those would significantly reduce your rat population since it’s likely that an infestation could come back in a barn. That’s one reason people used to have many cats on their farms.

  8. J says:

    We have found rat droppings in our garage in florida but have not physically seen the rats. We also have seen chew holes in vents around the base of the garage so know that is their point of entry. We have not seen any evidence or droppings inside so at this point they have remained in the garage. What is the best way of getting rid of them. Typically we see roof rats here but since they are coming in the garage and not seen or heard signs of them in the attic thinking they may be Norway rats? We tried to seal the vents with steel mesh but they gnawed right through it to come back in. There is not food in the garage and never has been so not sure why they are trying to get in there at night. Our garbage cans are outside but in heavy plastic containers that are supposed to be rodent proof. any help would be greatly appreciated.

  9. Sylvia says:

    I’m in Surrey BC and believe a Norway rat arrived in a dishwasher a friend gave me. It found it’s way to the hot water tank enclosure that is very tight to the tank. To keep it from roaming I’ve been feeding it dog food kibble. The cat can’t get to it. Help!

  10. Dave says:

    Im for the blunt force trauma method. Traps, shovels and what have you. Let the tree huggers hug rats but I am going to e rat ocate them. Basically put them out of my misery.

  11. Yomna says:

    These are some listings you can try:ASPCAAnimal Protective ServicesAnimal ControlIf all else fails, call the plcoie to find out who to contact or call a veterinarian he/she should be able to tell you who to call.References :

  12. deepu says:

    Big rats are spoiling the drainage system and gathering the mud in the pipes making the drain blocked. In spite of keeping the tablets of rat killing also we are not getting rid of the rats. Do these big rats spoil the basement of the house. We are afraid of them. Pl. solve our problem

  13. Ouida says:

    the rats are in my home again. husband and I are 68 and not in best of health. how do we get rid of the rats before they make us sick? we also have what they call field rats and they are also in our home. PLEASE HELP

    • Gav says:

      I have a rat in the loft of my house, I have snap traps in there for about 3 weeks but have had no luck. Over the week end 7/9/15 I located a nest with 6 baby rats, but no mother

  14. Alan says:

    A rat in my kitchen last week and no sign of him since. I have set all the traps and a cage and he hasn’t come back.

  15. neil says:

    i have rats in my home in waun wen swansea

  16. Kim says:

    how do you get rid of a rat if its hiding behide your fridge?

  17. Valerie says:

    Rats are disgusting. I don’t believe in humane treatment of such a vile creature. I have killed over 100 rats in my house and garage. I even have one residing in my couch. I don’t understand what is attracting them to my house. I will use whatever means necessary to eliminate them. They are good for nothing, like mosquitoes. Maybe I’ll try the baking soda and vinegar. PETA needs to take a chill pill :)

  18. RAMS says:


  19. Jay says:

    Rats occasionally crawl through my kitchen cabinets, helping themselves to my children’s treats. I caught one tonight in a live trap, and took it outside while I debated on how to dispose of it / dispatch it. Opting not to drown it, I instead sprayed it in the face with carburetor cleaner, which quickly forced a sedated and non aggressive state. I then bashed it upon the skull twice with a five pound sledge. Humane (enough), and final. Rats are pests, vermin, unwelcome, and should be disposed of accordingly. Live release of a rat is stupid and can be more inhumane that blunt force trauma, as a rat released outside of its comfort zone may suffer a long and agonizing death from starvation and/or the inability to quickly ascertain the surroundings and provide for its basic needs of shelter and food.
    Kill them all, as quickly as possible. Do NOT have mercy on them, for if you do they will multiply and dominate your living space until you break down and call someone with less compassion to deal with them. Do NOT poison them, unless you want to deal with the very real and likely possibility of rats rotting in your walls. Snap traps or live traps + dispatching methods of extreme prejudice.
    Kill. Them. All.

  20. jeff says:

    Give me break! People worrying how to humanly kill rats! Really? Rats will destroy and multipy like crazy. Risk of disease. Just kill them any way that works regardless. Ruthless lil bastards!

  21. CONNIE says:


    • charlie says:

      Ive read numerous sites that say to use peppermint soaked cotton balls. My son has tried it and it works. Its worth a shot. I have a drop ceiling and they get in through some holes that the squirrels chewed outside my house. The holes arw fixed now but they are stull getting in. Im trying the oil. Im desperate.

  22. ArtSpot says:

    Heard a rat in our walls a month ago, but we were going away for 2 weeks, so I put off calling pest control. When we got back, found the rats chewed a 4″ diameter hole into our dog’s hard plastic food container! We called a pest control company that did an assessment to sealing up all the entry points into our home (in the roof vents, roof eves, dryer vent & water heater closet). Later, we found behind our oven, a stash of 1 quart of dog food near one of the rat holes! Sneaky rats!

    We placed baited traps out for 2 nights without setting them (electric, plastic power snaps, & traditional wood snaps). Then after the 2 nights & pest control sealed all entries (which is also exits to our house), we set the traps. First night, we caught 1 rat with the electric trap. 2nd night, 1 rat caught with plastic snap & 1 caught with electric trap. 3rd night (last night), 2 rats caught with plastic snap & 1 caught with electric trap.

    Seems like hungry rats will go after traps when hungry. Seal all entry/exits on the exterior of your house. Secure all your food! Set traps.

    Don’t know how we will find out if we got all the rats, but at that point, we will seal up all holes leading into the interior of the home. I am crossing my fingers!

  23. L says:

    We have never had this problem before. We live in an older rural farm house and this is the first year we have had them in the house. We have had problems with them in the garage, but this year it seemed like they were gone. Well, they are back with a vengeance and we now have them in our house. We have no idea how many – we killed 2 – one with a snap trap and another one my dog caught and killed. We have traps set everywhere we can think of and we have not caught anymore, but we have one that is digging or chewing in our sofa bed couch and we have heard one in another area where we have some clutter we need to rid ourselves of, but otherwise no more have been caught. The traps have been set for 4 weeks now. We had pest control here and he put out more poison and set more traps, but still nothing. I don’t know what else to try or do – I live here with my elderly mother and I did not sign up for this by moving back with her after my father died. I read of a mix they say to try and the man who uses it swears by it – a mix of quick oats, raisons, and 20 minute mud or plaster of paris or Fix It All and he said they do not survive once they have eaten this. I do not look to go out and kill anything, but when they move into our home that is a different story and I will use any method to rid our home of them, so if anyone has any ideas, let me know. I am ready to move out!

  24. Amanda walker says:

    I just found out my at tick is infested I’m a single mom with 3 kids and a grand baby on the way I need help to get rid of them!!!! What can I do and I don’t care how it gets done I just want them gone!!!

  25. Elizabeth says:

    I live on 10 acres in Shelton, WA and have an awful problem with the Norway rats in my garage. They are eating insulation, paper, etc. I am handicapped and can’t get traps. I also have dogs which I’m afraid will go after them when they die outside. I think they come in through the chimney and garage doors. HELP!

  26. Anonymous says:

    No solution!

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