1. Find and block the pathways rats use to enter your home.
You can’t get rid of rats if new rats come in as fast you get existing rats out. Learn how to get rid of rats. Locate the passageways rats use to enter your home by walking the perimeter of your home, looking for fresh rat droppings. Look for burrows under outside walls and in embankments. Check for rain gutters that connect directly to the sewer system and make sure the top of the gutter is screened so rats cannot climb up onto your roof. If you have rats in your attic then read this article: Rats in the Attic: What Do You Do?
2. Find and block the pathways rats use to enter your grounds.
Look for broken manhole covers, broken sewer pipes, and open garbage containers anywhere within 50 meters (50 yards) of your home. Make sure plastic bags filled with trash are not left out overnight and that there is no crawl space underneath large community trash bins where rats could live and feed on spillage. If you can’t secure the cooperation of the city and your neighbors in correcting these problems, be especially sure to find and block the pathways rats use to enter your home.
3. Don’t let rats share bird seed.
Norway rats, the more common brown rats (the IDPH provides more facts about this rat), are great climbers who love to visit bird feeders at night. They may even catch the occasional bird. Make sure you don’t scatter bird seed on the ground and make your bird feeders rat- and squirrel-proof by using baffles on the bottom of a feeder you place on the ground or PVC pipe (which is too slippery for rodents to climb or crawl across) if you hang the feeder off the ground.
4. Don’t let rats share pet food.
Rats love cat and dog food. The easiest thing you can do to protect open pet food containers from rats is to feed your pet from a stainless steel bowl. The sides of the bowl will be impossible for smaller rats to climb.
It also helps to place open pet food containers in the middle of a room. Only the hungriest rats will venture into the middle of a room to feed, and they will only want to risk the run to the food bowl at night. Simply placing your pet’s food bowl in a secure container at night reduces the risk it will feed rats. Placing a pet food bowl against a wall at night, especially in a corner, is an open invitation to rats to feed.
Automated pet feeders also reduce feeding by rats—but it’s necessary to check them daily to make sure your pet is being fed.
5. Don’t provide rats water.
Rats need to drink as well as to eat. They drink water from water bowls for pets, buckets, sinks, pots and pans, dishes for potted plants, window pits for basements, clogged rain gutters, bird baths, and old tires. Don’t leave open water containers out at night inside your home. Don’t over water plants. Use stainless steel water bowls for indoor pets or set automatic pet watering devices to give your pet water during the day.
6. If you put out traps, make sure they are parallel to and touching a wall.
Rats like to run along side walls. They prefer to be able to dart away at the last moment, leaving a predator to plunge into a solid object. If you place a rat trap in the middle of a room, only the hungriest and weakest rats are likely to seek the bait. More rats can be placed in traps alongside a wall than in the middle of a room.
The reason to place the trap parallel to the wall, the long side of the trap against a wall, is that rats pick up their food with their paws and nibble the middle. A baited trap placed perpendicular to the wall presents the food in a position that traps one or both paws but not the body of the rat, leaving the rat to wriggle free and savvy to your plans.
7. Handle Rat Zapper traps with dry newspaper or dry paper towels.
Rats can smell human scent on a Rat Zapper that is placed with bare fingers, especially when the human placing the trap is sweating. Handling the trap with paper when it is set out and when it is picked up reduces odors that might alarm the rats and send them scurrying safely away. Gloves won’t work because it’s necessary to touch the outside of the glove while putting them on.
8. Rinse steel Havahart traps with hot water after each release.
It’s impossible to carry the Havahart trap by hand or in your vehicle without coating it with human scent, and rats in distress leave their pheromones in the trap while they are waiting for their release. Be sure to rinse scents off the trap before reuse.
9. Only put out rat poison in enclosed spaces that don’t open to the outdoors.
It doesn’t do any good to put out rat poison if new rats can come in as fast as the resident rats are exterminated. And you don’t want sick rats dying in your walls, underneath your floor, or in your attic. The best place to use rat poison is in a large, enclosed storage room or garage you can completely block off to rodent entry. Keep pets and children out of the room until the rats are gone, and be sure to use granular bait, never rat poison sprinkled onto food items. Rats will eat granular baits where the bait is set, making it easy to rid the room of poison when the rats are killed. They will carry food baits with them, spreading poison wherever they go.
10. Never lock a cat in a room infested with rats.
When it’s a battle between a cat and a pack of rats, the rats will win and kill the cat. Cats, especially kittens, also need their escape routes when confronted by multiple rats.