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How to Deal with a Rat Problem

Rat in a wine glass

Rats! The word alone is enough to make some people leap onto furniture and whip out their phones to call the exterminator. The first instinct is usually kill, kill, kill – but all that does is take care of one or two particular rats, it doesn’t really take care of a rat (or rodent) problem. Traditional methods of extermination also come with certain risks. For example, the problem with putting down poison is that it poses a danger to your family, especially young children and pets. The problem with lethal traps, like glue traps, is that they are overwhelmingly cruel.

So, how do you get rid of a rodent infestation? Humanely, of course.

Proactive is better than reactive

Prevention is better than cure, so the best way to get rid of rats is not to invite them in the first place. Rats will go where the food is, so make sure that you don’t leave any scraps or waste lying around where they are easy pickings for rodents. Store all food in secure containers – really secure. Rats have been known to chew through tough plastic so consider using tins or glass containers instead.

Ensure that your larder or pantry is secure and that there are no cracks or holes in the wall that little claws can leverage. Even a one inch gap is enough for a rat to gain entry.

Don’t feed your pets outside and if you do, don’t leave their food lying around after meal times. Also don’t leave their food near open doors, as this is an open invitation.

Never leave any rubbish lying around, not only does it make good food, but it makes for good nesting, or at least nesting material.

Rats are accomplished chewers, especially wires. Protect an exposed wiring around your house using trunking and, if possible, keep your car in a secure location where rats aren’t going to crawl up into the engine and chew your brake system to shreds.

Cover your vents with wire mesh or heavy-gauge screening so that they don’t tempt the tricky little critters.

“Home remedies”

You can always try some “home remedies” to prevent a rat problem from developing. Care2 provides some tips that may or may not work:

  • Peppermint appears to be quite a popular ingredient in rat-prevention. You can sprinkle peppermint tea or oil on your rubbish, keep a cloth of it in your pantry or place peppermint-soaked cotton wool behind plug sockets to keep away rats and mice.
  • An apple cider vinegar and water mixture sprinkled around your house is said to keep rats and mice away.
  • Ultrasonic devices fall under this category because they work wonders for some people and do absolutely nothing for others. They might be worth a shot, however, before you resort to any drastic action.

Once rats have settled in

Rats are wily creatures capable of outsmarting common man. If they manage to circumvent even your best laid plans, there are some humane options available.