This will take a few minutes reading. However, understanding the ways of rats and why they come into your house and garden in the first place. Helps make sense of the methods outlined in this
article to deter and get rid of them.
Rats are never far away from our homes! We are there source of food and shelter. If you have recently seen one in or near your home or garden then it is likely to be living nearby and is
searching for food, access and shelter. It is unlikely to be alone either, rats live in extended family groups.
Why are rats attracted to my home and garden?
Rats are attracted into your home and garden by three things food, shelter and access.
Let's look in a bit more detail at what food rats eat, type of shelter rats need and the access we provide for rats to get into our home and garden. And how to get rid of rats.
What foods do rats eat?
They eat all the stuff we eat.... And more.....
Fruit and Berries are rats favourite food. Rats are drawn by the smell and sweetness of raspberry, blackberry, apple and pears when the fallen fruit is left to rot on the ground.
Grains and seeds are natural rat foods even seeds from your flowerbeds or leftover ripened broad-beans from the garden. Bird Feeders where about a quarter of the food ends up on the floor
"Rats love them". They also get into garden sheds where you have stored grass seed, or the worst scenario-crawl all over and eat unprotected cooking and baking ingredients like rice.
Nuts, rats love nuts, they are a high-protein energy source and rats will seek them out.
Meat, rats will eat all types of fish, poultry and red meat. Rats don't hunt for meat unless they are starved of the stuff they prefer, they just eat whatever meat they find.
Pet Food is a real treat for rats containing all the nutrients needed to keep cats and dogs and rats fit and healthy
Plants, Plant seeds are a favourite food. However, rats are born survivors and if hungry will eat just about anything they can get their teeth into from grass and weeds to small twigs and
bits of bark.
Food and animal by-products, yes rats will eat anything to survive even things that to us would seem non-edible, such as worn clothes and leather. They will nibble and test and if the taste
or smell is OK and the rat is hungry enough they will eat it.
Food scraps and rubbish. We have shopped to much and cooked to much to eat ourselves, don't want it and throw it away. Rats love it especially bread, cheese, meat, fruits and vegetables and
Takeaways that end up over someone's garden wall.
Salt, rats love salty food.
Where do rats shelter?
Rats choose to live somewhere that is dry, offers protection from predators mainly cats and dogs and with reasonably access to food.
Cluttered cupboards in your home offer all three of these, try to keep floors clear of clutter especially linen and anything rats can make nests from.
Chicken coops and rabbit hutches offer shelter and food, try not to store food under the hutches and keep the space between the structure and ground clear.
Garden sheds, again try to keep floors clear of clutter. If the shed is built with a gap between the base and the ground. Leave at least one side open for inspection and possibly access for a
dog or cat if you have one. Make sure all food is stored in secure rat-proof containers.
Compost bins and heaps provide not only food, but a dry warm and fairly safe place to live in. Not much you can do about blocking access, apart from maybe covering the heap with chicken wire.
Ponds. Rats need to drink. If you have bushes or a rockery around the pond it may, but is unlikely, be enough to provide shelter for rats to set up home. Personally I would keep the pond for
its benefit to your garden wildlife.
Decking. Fit removable panels to decking and other platforms and check underneath regularly.
Garden rubbish. This is something you can and should do something about by removing all rubbish, old planks, settees and sections of galvanised panel, anything rats could shelter under from
your garden. Persuade scruffy neighbours, you know the ones, rents paid by the rest of us, the ones with sofas, lager cans and old fridges all over their front garden. To clean up their act. If
they make excuses, "late for the social" or "tired up all night watching my massive flat-screen TV" etc. report them to the council.
Cavity walls. Rats love living in cavity walls, they are safe and dry with easy access to your kitchen. They get in either through a hole in your external wall or an underground drain. This
can be complicated if you live in a terraced house or semi-detached property as the problem may be coming from the neighbours side.
The list could be endless, but shelter alone will not attract rats they need food too I/E, a shed in the middle of a field won't sustain rats, whereas the same shed in the middle of a farm will.
Simple really isn't it. Cut off the rats access to food.
Access (how to stop rats getting in to a house)
Rats are poor climbers, but make up for that in the clever ways they get into your home. Using ivy and similar climbers to climb up and in, even using a
down pipe as a back rest to climb between the wall and the pipe. Full-grown rats can squeeze through a 3/4 inch gap.
Rats are attracted to your home because they want a safe place to live and breed, protected from predators and with plenty of food. Blocking access to food
and shelter will help get rid of rats and stop them returning. However, following these tips blocking access for rats will help put your mind at rest too.
If the rats have got into your house you will need to find and block the entry points. Look for broken air-bricks that can be fitted with framed mesh. Gaps under doors or in door-frames can
be fitted with bristle strips.
Cut back vegetation the rats climb up to get access through gaps in the eaves or up the wall using a drain pipe as a back support. The bottom of drain pipes can be fitted with rat-deterrent
drain pipe guards. Rats can chew through most things so fit materials that are rat-proof. Check every few weeks for signs of gnawing.
Service pipes and plumbing through external walls make access easy for rats to get into the house. Rats can get through one inch gaps around pipes where the cement has fallen out over time.
An up and over garage door provides easy access for rats (not much you can do about the gaps around the door). However, try to minimise the places rats can hide once they are in. By, if
possible, leaving a gap between the wall and storage cupboards, etc. Keeping it as clutter free as you can. Rats will also head for the kitchen or utility where they usually get behind washing
machines, fridges or freezers.
Rats will only feel welcome in your garden and home if you welcome them, by providing food, safe shelter and easy access. Make them as unwelcome as you
reasonably can. Cutting out the supply of food is the best way to make your home unwelcoming to rats.
Nasty facts about rats that will make you want to get rid of them.
Rats cause serious problems;
If you think you have rats in your garden or even your house, you probably have! Whilst staking out a garden where the householder suspected rats might be
living I saw about 20 rats all scurrying about together.
Rats spread diseases. The most serious
is Weils Disease, a potentially fatal disease transmitted by rats to humans and domestic pets via bacteria in the rat's urine.Symptoms of Weils Disease (Leptospirosis) NHSRats also transmit Salmonellosis, rat-bite fever, listeria, toxoplasmosis and toxacaria to humans.
How is disease transmitted by rats?If the Weils bacteria gets into your bloodstream the
resulting infection can be fatal if not recognised and treated. If rats urinate in damp long grass or around garden ponds the bacteria can remain active for up to a month. The bacteria gets
into the bloodstream via cuts and grazes so children crawling around on hands and knees in a rat infested area are particularly at risk. Poor hygiene also plays a part, ingestion from
contaminated food dishes and by not washing your hands properly can transmit the disease.
Rats damage your home?Rats can cause a lot of serious damage if they get into your house by gnawing through soft metals such as lead and aluminium, thick wood like supporting
beams even breeze blocks and electrical wiring leading to fire risks.
Neighbours. For the reasons above leaving rats to get on with it is not an option. A garden full of rubbish and part eaten fast food makes the
perfect habitat to attract Rats and is unfair to neighbours.
Luckily most of us find the
nearby presence of rats disgusting and even frightening and hearing them scurrying within a cavity wall or loft at night will bring about urgent remedial action.
the quickest way to get rid of rats is to trap or poison
Before we look at ways to trap or poison rats, a few more facts about them;
Rats are mostly nocturnal with poor sight, but their sense of touch, hearing and smell are very well developed and they use these very successfully to be alerted to danger.
They are naturally wary of new objects and this can cause problems when you set the traps, as they will ignore them for up to two weeks.
Rats are mostly active at night. It is unusual to see much rat activity during daylight hours unless they are disturbed or food is scarce or living in an area with little disturbance.
Rats live close to their food source and tend to follow regular routes, something to bear in mind when setting traps.
Rats breed even faster than rabbits in the right conditions I/E. plenty of food and water and undisturbed cover for rearing young and escaping from cats and dogs. Rats start to breed at
around three months old and produce about six litters of around 6-11 per litter each year.
The Pros and Cons of poisoning or trapping rats
The Pros and Cons are;
Rat poison. Pros: Poisoning can be a very effective way of dealing with rat infestations. Cons: Can be a problem where children and pets are present. You also have no control
over where the poisoned rat will eventually die. Indoors you could be left with the foul smell of a rotting rat carcass in a wall or ceiling cavity.
Live Rat traps. Pros: Trapping rats is my favoured solution, but remember rats are very wary of anything new or out of routine. So the traps will need to be left for at least a
week for the rats to get used to them. Cons: The downside to using the live trapping method is you will be left with a live rat to kill humanely.
Snap traps. The old-fashioned wooden snap trap that kills the rat outright is the most effective method I have found in testing over many years. Pros: When the correct size is
used correctly it kills rats quickly and effectively. Traps are reusable and are basically effective forever until they're sprung, so they can be left in "problem areas" semi-permanently. Cons:
Can occasionally fail to kill outright and cause non fatal injury and bleeding. Possible to hurt yourself if the trap is sprung accidentally.
As we discussed earlier in this article over the long-term deterring rats by removing or denying access to all food and shelter is the best permanent solution.
How to use traps to catch rats
Live rat trap.
Live trapping allows you to humanely kill the rat or remove it well away from your property so you know it has gone.
Bearing in mind the habits and routines of rats we have discussed earlier. Place the rat trap on the route the rat takes to get to food. The more traps you set the more chance you will have of
Rats are very wary of new objects and will avoid them to start with, be patient and don't move them, an old object becomes a new one if you move it.
You can tempt the rats into the traps using bait. Anything edible will work including bread, chocolate, biscuits, fruit, I would avoid meat as you may attract more flies than rats.
The spring-loaded snap trap is a proven, effective way to trap rats. Snap traps work by snapping a metal wire over the rat's neck when it tries to grab the bait. It is important to choose a rat
trap that's big enough to kill the rats, using traps that are too small may maim the rat without killing it or lead to a protracted death from strangulation. I use the heavy-duty snap trap here.
Easy to bait - attracts rodents to ideal strike bar location
Economical and reusable for years of service
Easy to release - fingers never touch the rodent
Easy to set - vertical strike bar for quicker response time
You think you have seen a rat in the garden or heard a rat gnawing or scurrying around within a cavity wall or loft at night, ugh! And you now want to trap or poison it. Firstly, you will need to
find out where it is living and feeding and the route it takes getting from one to the other. The route may lead to neighbouring properties.
One way is to quietly position yourself at sunset and watch what happens. Rats have regular routines and you will get a fairly good idea of where to place the trap or poison.
Rats will also leave droppings in the house and remains of nesting materials and food they have carried to the area and this can help locate the rat. Never handle rat droppings as they could
contain disease organisms. Always wear disposable gloves and wash your hands thoroughly.
However, there is an easier way....
An easier way to find out where the rats are going in your house
A lot easier and quicker way to track rats is to use the fluorescent tracking dust featured here, it is really useful in
detecting rat activity. You sprinkle a small amount where you think the rat is active and then when it's dark inspect using an UV torch. The effect is a bit scary seeing how active rats can be
during the night. This will confirm entry points to the house and in dry weather can be used in the garden too.
More information about using Flourescent tracking dust at the bottom of this page or by clicking on the picture.
How to use rat tracking dust to track where rats enter and go in your house
Finding out how rats get into your property and where they go, to enable you to place the traps in the best place, can be difficult.
Sitting and watching in the dark or setting CCTV to record the rats scurrying around you property can work, However, by far the easiest way is to use fluorescent tracking
dust. The powder shows you exactly where the rats and mice have been and where they are going.
The Rat fluorescent tracking dust works by sticking to the rats feet, as the rat scurries about it deposits tiny particles of fluorescent dust with every step it takes. Each of the rat
footprints is then highly visible in simple infra red torchlight.
It is simple to use, sprinkle a small amount of the luminous dust around the area you think they frequent. This could be
where you have seen them, where there have been signs of gnawing, an area with droppings, holes or scratches, etc.
Next evening, wait until it is dark or draw the curtains and using the torch follow the trail of illuminated rat footprints to place your rat traps. Tracking powder can be used outside in dry weather.
This rat detection method saves time and money in the long run, as you will know exactly where to block entry holes and place traps. Meaning you won’t waste time placing them in areas where
rats never go. You will be able to place traps every 3-5 metres with pinpoint accuracy.
If you have got an hour to spare, read this online book of the account of the life and experiences of an expert
Rat-Catcher named Mr. Ike Mathews who caught rats as a professional for about 25 Years in the 1800s First Published in 1898.
"In placing before my readers in the following pages the results
of my twenty-five years' experience of Rat-catching, Ferreting, etc., I may say that I have always done my best to accomplish every task that I have undertaken, and I have in consequence...
" more from Ike Mathew's book