How to Get Rid of Rats Naturally

Millions of kind-hearted homeowners don’t want to live with rats, but don’t want to use killer traps, poisons, and predator animals, either. It takes a little extra effort to get rid of rats naturally, but it’s not impossible to remove rats without harming them. Before removing rats, however, it’s essential to make sure new rats can’t find their way in.

Make Your Home Inhospitable to Rats

2RatsBarMany people make major investments in high-tech methods of human rodent removal after they have made their homes an impenetrable fortress to rats. The problem with this strategy is that locking rodents out usually also involves locking rodents in, and the devices and chemicals used to repel rats only make them more anxious and agitated. Before you do anything else, take measures that will cause rats to leave your home voluntarily.

An indoor cat or dog is a minor deterrent to rat infestation. Cats sometimes catch mice, but only the most skilled feline hunters can catch a rat. In a battle between a puppy or a kitten and a full-grown rat, the puppy will lose and the kitten is likely to be killed. Most pets need even more protection from rats than you do.

Pheromones (such as those derived from lion urine) that are strong enough to drive rats out of your house may also be strong enough to drive you out of your house.

Fight rats with the power of sound. Much as dogs can hear dog whistles, rats can hear high frequencies that don’t disturb humans but that greatly aggravate rats. The mistake most users of devices such as the Pest Offense POBD-I-01 Original Electronic Pest Repeller is putting the device at a door leading to the outdoors, on a kitchen counter, or near a cupboard. Putting the ultrasonic rat repellent at a door just keeps rats in, not out, and putting it in the kitchen only causes rats to feed elsewhere in the house. Start with one unit in a corner of your home farthest from the doors and remove rats from that room. Keep that unit running, and add one unit per room, about once every other day, until you have chased rats out of your house. Be forewarned that rats may still come back in if you don’t follow up by closing entryways, as described below.

Don’t Provide Rats an All-You-Can-Eat Buffet

Another way to reduce rat infestations is simply to ensure they don’t find your home to be an all-you-can-eat buffet. Keep rice, grains, beans, and sugar in closed glass or metal containers rather than in the sacks in which they are sold. Make sure every member of your household makes a habit of closing the container. Keep breakfast cereals in solid containers or in the refrigerator. Don’t leave pots and pans or half-filled glasses out on the counter or in the sink, especially at night. Keep cupboards closed. And make sure everyone shuts the door tightly when coming in or going out.

Keep pet food in closed containers, and feed your pet from a stainless steel bowl—the bowl will be too slippery for rats to climb. Even better, feed and water your pets with an automatic system set to provide them with food and water during the day, when rats are not active, but not at night. Install baffles at the base of bird baths and bird feeders set on the ground, or use PVC pipe (too slippery for both rats and squirrels) to hang bird feeders above the ground.

Make Your Home a Rat-Proof Fortress

Rats are naturally cautious animals. They are not likely ever to cross a street. They do not like to cross open spaces. A rat usually ventures less than 50 meters (165 feet) from the place it was born unless it is carried to a new location by human activity. Homeowners who can secure a 50-meter radius around their homes have a good chance of keeping them rat-free.

Rats live where humans don’t care to spend their time, especially in the garbage and in the sewer. Garbage offers an endless source of food, and sewers offer vast corridors for escaping predators and finding new food sources. If you lock down escape routes for rats from trash cans and the sewer half the battle is won. Here’s what is essential for keeping rats away from your home.

  • Make sure any connection to the sewer system is rat-proof. It’s essential to let the city know when manhole covers are broken or sewer pipes are broken. The plumbing vent must open above your roof, not below it, and should be covered with rat-proof mesh (as described by the ICWDM). Since the drain-pipe vent maintains neutral air pressure so sewage drains away from your house by the force of gravity, it’s essential that the pipe be wide enough that a rat can’t get stuck. A rat blocking the sewer vent can cause sewage to back up into your house.
  • Make sure that trash it stored in rat-proof containers, especially at night. Plastic garbage bags of household trash or lawn clipping left at the curb overnight are an open invitation to rats to feed. Trash cans need a rust-proof lid, and the lid must be tightly closed except to put trash in and empty trash out. Large metal trash collection bins must sit directly on the ground to prevent providing a nesting place for rats feeding on spilled trash.
  • If your home is not built on a slab foundation, look for tunnels, burrows, and fresh fecal droppings at ground level around your house. If your home is built on a slab foundation, make sure doors and windows continue to fit during drought or rainy weather that may cause the soil underneath your home to shift. If you have a basement, make sure water does not accumulate in window wells and that all basement doors and windows are left shut, especially at night, and are airtight.

Rat Poisons and Rat Traps

For centuries, all rat poisons were “natural,” involving either caustic chemicals that eroded the rat’s digestive tract or potent herbal poisons such as strychnine and squill. The downside to natural poisons that kill rats is that they also kill humans and pets. Rat traps are a safer tool for rat removal.

Rat traps may either capture or kill. Glue sheets capture rats but leave them to starve, be eaten by other predators, or die from struggling to get off the glue. A rat zapper, for example, offer a swift and relatively humane end to the rats they capture. Havahart rat traps allow rats and other rodents to be captured and released to the wild.

Whichever kind of rat trap you choose, there are three keys to success

  • Place the trap against a wall. Rats don’t like to travel across open spaces.
  • Place the trap parallel to the wall. Rats won’t detour away from the wall to enter the trap door of a Havahart trap and they won’t be caught in a spring trap they approach from the sides.
  • Don’t handle rat traps with your bare hands, especially if they are sweaty. Rats can detect your scent and will avoid the trap. Pick up traps with several thicknesses of newspaper or dry paper towels to keep them scent-free.
  • Look here for alternative methods on How to Get Rid of Rats


  1. Patty G. says

    I am having rat trouble in my home. There are rats in my wall and I can even hear them scratching under my bathtub. I want to close the holes from the outside, but I don’t want to have them stuck inside my home. We recently caught one rat in a trap in the kitchen, however, it was still alive and my husband had to finish it off. We really hate using the rat traps, as this one rat wasn’t first my husband had to finish off. We know it’s necessary to get rid of the rats, but the traps are undesirable if there’s the possibility of them still being alive and writhing in pain. Poison is out the question since we have dogs. And now the other rats seem to be nesting in the wall, but not really coming into the rest of the house (we haven’t seen rat droppings and though we hate them, we’ve placed more traps, but to no avail). Is there any way to get rid of the rats that are in my wall? I certainly don’t want to close off any points of entry will all of those rats living there, but obviously, I can’t tear down my walls either.

  2. says

    Thanks for your question. You make a good point about sealing up holes and trapping rats inside; however, it may be the logical thing to do.

    By sealing off entry points, new rats won’t enter your walls. The existing rats will venture into your house looking for food and water, and this is your opportunity to trap them.

    We found the rat zappers to be the most effective rat trap as it will dispatch the rat and you don’t have to touch it while disposing of it.

    You can read more about it here:

    Before you go sealing up the entry holes, read these articles and properly prepare yourself:

    I suggest you don’t put this task off as it will only increase the problem. A stitch-in-time saves nine!

  3. emily says

    Im also having rat trouble. They are only in my kitchen and basement but they try to get at my birds we have almost did but someone in my house heard the birds cry and went out on time to save them. The rats have torn my whole kitchen sink,theres a whole near my birds cage and in one of the doors entrence. We want to get rid of these rats asap* but we dont want to put traps out,im an animal lover and it hurts to hear them cry when my husband kills them, though they are getting on my nurves please help me. My aon has told me to hire an expert to close every whole we can find but will that really work? Ive also heard of a spreay that they cant stand but will it work?? Also i have a small size dog she goes after them but im afraid she will get hurt..i need fast help..please let me know what i can do. Thank you

    • says

      Hi Emily,
      It’s hard for animal lovers to choose between birds and rats—but you can save your birds without killing the rats. First of all, you are right, you will need to close every hole that offers a passageway from the inside of your home to outdoors. There is a fairly long list of potential problem areas, but each has a solution:

      * Make sure that pet food, birdseed, cookies, crackers, cereals, candy, and bread are kept in closed containers (not just sealed in a plastic bag) at night. Birdseed in a bird cage does not have to be covered if it at least 12 inches (30 cm) from the floor. Do not leave bags of bird seed or pet food in the garage.

      * Make sure you control cockroaches. Both mice and rats will eat roaches and they will come back looking for more.

      * Keep corners free of clutter, especially in the garage, in mud rooms, in laundry rooms, and near doors.

      * Check for holes in the wall where utility lines come into the house, and caulk shut.

      * Make sure bedroom closets are uncluttered.

      * Make sure dryer vents (that let hot air and lint out of the dryer) are covered with wire mesh where they go outside the house.

      * Close the door behind you when you go out of your house, and make sure children and elders do, too.

      * Make sure there are no gaps of over ¼ inch (6 mm) at the bottom of a door.

      * Make sure there are no gaps of over ¼ inch (6 mm) at the bottom of windows or around window screens. If you open a window for fresh air, make sure it is screened and the screen fits properly.

      * Install bristles, or rubber or vinyl sweep seals at the bottom of your garage door. Technically, rodents can gnaw through bristles, rubbers, or vinyl but if they see or feel an unbroken seal, they will treat it as if it were a wall and keep on going.

      * Install compression seals on the top of garage doors.

      * Never store food next to an outside door.

      * Keep tree branches trimmed and at least 15 feet (about 5 m) away from your house or building.

      * Make sure all outside utility pipes are sealed where they come into your house. Mice and rats can climb several stories to find an unsealed utility pipe.

      As for sprays rats don’t like, chances are that you won’t like them, either. It’s very hard to find a taste repellent that works on rats, because they tend to puff out their cheeks to carry food. This keeps them from tasting what they eat.

      You could try putting out naphthalene (moth flakes or moth balls) and sulphur, but these products only work well in enclosed spaces, and they should not be used around food.

    • says

      If you are not a professional, then the chances are you will kill or harm other animals or yourself in the process. There are plenty of other options for you to consider. Have a look in our FAQ section, you will find a link at the top of this page.

  4. jayne bennett says

    I read that rats do not like to go near Cinnamon or other spices such as cumin or chilly someone said they dont like citrus smells either and lemon puts them of an area. I was told that chilli flakes in bird food puts rats of but does not harm the birds? it is sad that I have water for frogs and birds and feed birds I also have a dog. I detest poisons or cruelty but want to stop the rats coming into my garden, I have low immunity as does my dog.

    • Simon says

      Hi Jayne,

      I don’t like poisons either.

      You can try all the things you listed and let us know how you get on with those repellents. The problem with them is that they will rapidly loose their potency as they decay.

      First thing to do is keep a very tidy garden and remove any natural habitats for rats.

      The second thing is to place rat traps and keep checking if they are around.


  5. mila says

    Hi guys i live in apartment and boy has it been a pain removing these mice is horrible disgustin and sorry to say it like this but i dont mind them dyin on the traps they have caused enough problem in my home and to my childrens health. Ive covered homes they reopen ive had to clean my house,toys,floors,counters with bleavh everyday is frustrating. I think and hope im done with them ive done so much i even removed the insulation in my kitchen stove they ware nesting in there who knows how long!! So keep an eye kn that if you have mice in your kitchen!! I want to try the sounds thing to keep them away but i really think livimg in aparments make it so much harder to keep away and get rid of these pest what good does it do if only i control it and no one else does!

    • Simon says

      Hi Mila,

      I understand your problem and if everybody in the apartment block doesn’t do the right thing, then it does make life a lot harder. I would focus on making your apartment as unfriendly for mice to live in a s possible and definitely use an ultrasonic deterrent as part of your arsenal.

      Have you tried contacting your local authority to see whether they will take any action?

  6. sonya says

    hi simon,
    i had a strawbeeries in my 1×1 garden bed. a rat has been around and he bites into the strawberries. one bite for each strawberry.

    We are going to rat proof it …somehow.

    My question is:
    After the strawberries bitten have been removed an the garden bed rat proof …. is it still safe to eat the next lot of strawberries. im worried about diseases.


    • Simon says

      Hi Sonya,

      Any animal can brush against any fruit or vegetable and transmit something nasty. I personally would discard any item that has been nibbled and thoroughly wash all food stuff before eating.

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