5 Simple Ways To Get Rid Of Rats Fast In Your Home

Rat on faucet in messy kitchen. Pest control

Rats have been a nuisance for longer than we have been on earth. Rat-like creatures were even roaming the earth with dinosaurs! Fortunately, there are some easy ways to rid your home of rats fast.

You can quickly rid yourself of rats with at home trapping and using pets to eliminate outside rats. Pesticides, and fumigation are best done by a professional. To prevent rats, keep your hedges trimmed, entrances sealed from the outside, and make sure all food sources are inaccessible to rats.

If you want to know more specifics about keeping rats away, read on! We will discuss safe ways to rid your home of them, as well as how to prevent future infestation.

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Different Types Of Rats In Your Home

beautiful wild brown norway rat, rattus norvegicus

There are two main types of rats, the roof rat, and the Norway rat. They are both very social creatures and rely on where humans live for food and shelter most of the time. COVID heavily affected rats when humans stopped interacting and leaving their houses as much because it caused a decrease in food and shelter.

According to the UC-IPM, there are a few ways you can tell which type of rat you are dealing with.  

For starters, the roof rat, otherwise known as a black rat, is a much smaller rat, sometimes even confused with a mouse. However, they have incredibly long tails, longer than their bodies. These rats are avid climbers and you can find them in places like bushes, trees, attics, ceilings, and walls.  

The Norway rat, otherwise known as a brown rat or even a sewer rat, is a much beefier rat than the roof rat. They look much larger and they are not nearly as good at climbing (although they still can). They like to burrow in places like under woodpiles or garbage piles, in fields, and basements.

While you can find a Norway rat just about anywhere, you can usually only find a roof rat in a warmer climate, often near the ocean. Also, Norway rats are much more social, so they live in populated areas even more so than the roof rat (like apartment buildings).

Although rats are so social, they can turn on their own. Rats have an enormous appetite, so large even that they will turn to cannibalism if completely necessary. Both types of rats also reproduce like crazy, so in any rat case, a minor problem can turn into a large one quickly.  

Rats Coming To North America And The United States 

How did rats end up here, anyway? Although they have been around in some sense for millions of years, they are not native to North America at all.

Even though Norway rats have Norway in their name, they are actually from Asia. Both types of rats came from Asia. The Norway rat got its name after appearing in England on a ship from Norway, although they got on the ship in Asia.

These rats made their way over to North America and the United States in the 17th and 18th centuries and have been here ever since. While they are invasive, there have not been efforts to wipe out their entire populations.

Why Do Rats Like Your Home?

Rats near open container with pasta on kitchen counter. Household pest

Knowing why your home is a hot spot for rats is important when knowing how to rid yourself of them. Rats are very social creatures, as stated before, and they thrive on human interaction to survive. They get food, water, and shelter from humans.

The NPIC discusses different ways you can reduce the appeal of your home to these furry vermin. For starters, you can ensure you are cleaning up any clutter, such as food or waste. Rats like to use things like paper and cardboard to make their nests, so reducing any sort of clutter will help.

Also, properly dispose of your food in a rat-proof container. Make sure the food in your house is not easily accessible to rats. You can double bag it, put it in air-tight containers, and make sure your cabinets shut tightly.

Rats love to hang out in unused cars because it is just close enough to human interaction to get what they need without being caught. If you have unused cars around your home, check on them regularly to make sure there are no rats in them. Rats are known for chewing up car wires, so check those too if you suspect rat activity.  

Other animal life attracts rats as well, so if they can sense things like dog droppings in your yard, they are more likely to want to stay around your home. Make sure you do not have dog water or food outside, and sometimes even bird feeders will cause issues. 

How To Know You Have Rats In Your Home

While rats might be one of the largest pest problems people deal with, they are pretty easily spotted within the home and the traces they leave are fairly noticeable as well. Being a larger animal, they have a harder time hiding than an insect.

UC-IPM states you can tell if you have rats in your house because they will leave droppings almost anywhere they go, but they will be the most concentrated near the nest. They are small, round and brown, and resemble coffee beans or raisins. 

If you are hearing noises at night, like rustling in your pantry or shuffling in your walls or ceilings, this is a good indication that you probably have rats. Rats like to move at night because they are nocturnal, so if you are hearing anything going bump in the night, it might be rats.

Have you noticed your cat is bringing home more rodents than usual lately? While it is okay to be proud of your pet, this might mean you have an infestation. The more rats they bring in, the more rats you have around.  

If you can see that your garden vegetables or fruits have nibbles out of them here and there or that you seem to have more burrows in the dirt than normal, rats might be in your area. This is an easy way for them to get food from you without getting caught.

You might notice a greasy or oily residue on things like stair railings or corners on your floors molding. This is where a rat has rubbed its body against these structures and can tell you where they might stay in your home.

If you see any of these signs together, it is a strong indicator that a furry, four-legged nuisance is on the loose. Seeing the signs and understanding them is the first step in fixing the problem.

If you have rats specifically in another part of your home, like your shed, take a look at our article: 7 Ways to Keep Mice and Rats Out of Your Shed

How To Get Rid Of Rats In Your Home

Get rid of rat using bait.

It is important to know it is safest and most effective to call a professional for help when getting rid of rats. While it might seem like a simple task, these creatures can carry disease, and rat bites are common. By using a professional, you are ensuring not only your safety but everyone else’s as well.

If you cannot call a pest control specialist for help, you have other means of getting them out of your house as well.

Ultrasonic Sound Can Deter Rats

Starting from least invasive, according to the University of Missouri, using high frequency or ultrasonic sound can help deter rats from wanting to stick around. Rats cannot handle the noise, but humans cannot hear it. By putting devices that make these sounds in your home, rats will want to hit the road, but you will not have to do any of the dirty work.

The Bectine Ultrasonic Pest Repeller comes in a pack of 6 so you can ensure your entire home is covered. They plug right into an outlet and have an optional light. These devices also claim to consume less power than other alternatives.

Personally, I’m not the biggest fan of ultrasonic repellents as they’re effectiveness can widely vary and there were some existing claims refuting their effectiveness. However, they’re relatively easy to use compared to other methods so it’s worth a try on your part.

Your Pets May Hunt Rats

You can also use cats or dogs to help eliminate your problem. Many people consider this hunting a natural occurrence, one of the more ethical practices, and are more comfortable with this than using traps or pesticides. Your animals can get exercise from this as well, but you want to make sure you monitor them to ensure they stay healthy.

Let your animal, specifically your cat, outside for a few hours a day and they’ll help take care of both your mice and rat problem.

Use Scents To Repel Rats

Rats have an extremely strong sense of smell which they use to find nearby food, water and shelter. While there are quite a few scents that will actually repel rats long term, rats are commonly repelled by mints, most notably, peppermint.

The strength of the peppermint, typically peppermint essential oil, will mask any potential food sources nearby causing confusion for the rats and will keep them away.

You can learn more about using scents to repel rats in our article: 15 Scents That Rats Hate (and How to Use Them)

Use Traps To Get Rid Of Rats

Mouse hole on the wall and mouse traps with cheese around, 3D rendering

Next, there are two main different traps you can use. A snap trap and a glue trap.  

A snap trap is the most accessible because you can buy them almost anywhere, at the grocery store or the hardware store, anywhere. Most commonly, they consist of a block of wood with a metal spring-loaded mechanism. The spring snaps shut on the rat when they take the bait off of the platform.

This is the more ethical of the two traps because it is quick. When setting these traps, you want to set out multiple and put them in places that the rats frequent often. You can bait these with things like cheese, peanut butter, hot dogs, and crackers.

If you use snap traps, ensure other DO NOT have access to them as you don’t want anything to get caught in the trap.

The Victor M201 Rat Trap is probably the most iconic. They are made in the USA and are safe for household and business use.

Your second choice is a glue trap. Glue traps are sticky strips used to catch pests as they move across them. They are comparable to one of those sticky tapes you hang from the ceiling and catch flies in the summer.

These are less ethical because they can take a long time, whereas a snap trap is instant. These also have a downside of not working in places there is dust because it will stop the surface from being sticky enough to work.

Again, the same as the snap traps, keep these in out of reach areas.

If you’d like to view more options, take a look at our article: The 3 Best Types of Rat Traps to Get Rid of Rats

Use Commercial Pesticides Repel Rats

Next, you can use pesticides the rats can eat. According to NY Health, there are 3 main types of chemicals in pesticides to eliminate rats in your home. They include Warfarin, Chlorophenol, and Pival, which are all coagulants.

These pesticides need to be set out for at least 6 days. On top of that, it takes more than one nibble of them to fix your rat problem. Typically, a rat, depending on size, has to ingest these on multiple occasions for it to work.  

If you are using these pesticides, keep them in low-traffic areas of your home so they are not tracked through your house. They MUST stay away from pets and animals. Finally, you need to make sure that you dispose of these properly and read the packing thoroughly.  

When trapping or using these pesticides, you can place them in dark corners or behind objects. You can also put them on places you know the rats need to climb down from, like ledges or shelves they may use to get food or water. 

Use Fumigation To Solve Your Rat Issue

Finally, you can fumigate your home. This is something I would not recommend you do without professional help as it can affect any and all surfaces in your home and can cause you illness if you are not careful.  

After you get these rats out of your home, no matter what method you use, you need to make sure to clean your house properly. Since rats are big vectors for disease, it is important to deep clean anywhere they were and to check all of your food and your pet’s food to make sure it is free of any traces of rats. Check for droppings and clean them up as well.

If you’re interested, feel free to find a pest control professional using our nationwide partner network.

How Do Rats Get Into Your Home?

Rats are excellent climbers, they are speedy and they like to chew things up. They can swim and jump pretty high and pretty far. With all these skills, there are multiple modes of entry for them to get into your house. 

UC-IPM states that a rat only needs about ½ an inch of a gap to get into a home. Even if there is a small gap they can gnaw, they will do so to make the gap big enough so that they can squeeze through.

According to NY Health, rats can swim through sewers, and because of this, they can climb up through ground drains if you have them. They will also travel through pipes, so be wary of pipe openings.

Rats can get into your home through any sort of crack or hole, whether it be a crack in the foundation or even small holes by your doors and windows. If a rat can get its teeth through a hole or crack in your house and can gnaw it open, they can get in.

Rats can dig as well. They will dig holes under the foundation of your house to find an opening if they have to. These creatures can swim, jump, run, dig, chew, climb… what can’t they do?

While all of that is impressive, rats can get into your house by doing the most simple thing; walking through the front door. Leaving doors or windows open is the easiest and quickest way for a rat to get into your house and since rats reproduce quickly, it only takes two to cause a problem.

To physically prevent rats from getting into your home, take a look at our article: Can mice and rats chew through stainless steel mesh?

That’s All For Now!

While pesticides, fumigation, and using traps might seem like a permanent solution, it is not. Rats can usually find their way into a home again if they want to. The best thing you can do is to clean up your area.

By this, I mean you can clean up food that is left out, rat-proof your pet’s food, and clean up your garbage.

The UC-IPM suggests making sure you seal any holes or cracks that a rat might use to get in, even if it’s a small or tight fit because any opening can be made big enough.

Also, the NPIC says that trimming vegetation around your home and using things like door sweeps and weather strips can help make sure the rats stay out. Trimming the vegetation is helpful since rats are expert climbers, so eliminating their ability to climb into your home eliminates their chances of success.

Overall, the most effective way to keep rats out of your home is to take away the sources of survival they are looking for. Get rid of food and water sources left open (like pet food and water left outside), seal up cracks and crevices, and make sure you check areas next to high-traffic areas.

By taking all these steps, you can help prevent yourself from dealing with rats in the future. 

References

Clinton J. M. (1969). Rats in urban America. Public health reports (Washington, D.C. : 1896), 84(1), 1–7.

Kiyokawa, Y., Tanikawa, T., Ootaki, M. et al. Social distancing measures differentially affected rats in North America and Tokyo. J Pest Sci (2021).

Michael McCormick; Rats, Communications, and Plague: Toward an Ecological History. The Journal of Interdisciplinary History 2003; 34 (1): 1–25.

Philip M. Iannaccone, Howard J. Jacob; Rats!. Dis Model Mech 30 April 2009; 2 (5-6): 206–210.

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