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If you’re the type of person who freaks out when you see a rat in the streets, then your worst nightmare is likely having rats take up unwelcome residence in your home. Not only are the rodents a nuisance, but they can carry diseases and be destructive. If you suspect or have confirmed rats are living in your house, you’ll want to remove them quickly. Luckily, there are plenty of ways you can get rid of them—and prevent future rat infestations. Here’s everything you need to know, including how to identify rats, the signs of an infestation, and products you can buy at your local home improvement store.
First, what types of rats infest homes?
ICYMI, not all rats are the same. The species that commonly cause issues in homes and businesses are Norway rats and Roof rats, according to pest control company Orkin. It’s worth noting that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention identifies Cotton rats and Rice rats, among others, as hosts of hantavirus. They can also find their way into homes. No matter what type of rats you have, you’ll want to get rid of them fast. But knowing which ones you have might help you locate where they’re hiding. Which brings us to…
Where do rats like to hide?
Norway rats (also called brown or sewer rats) tend to build their nests in underground burrows, whereas Roof rats are good climbers and like to build their nests in locations above ground. In general, rats can take refuge in walls, attics, basements, and even under furniture or appliances where it’s dark, according to Smith’s Pest Management.
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What are the signs of an infestation?
- You see them. Rats aren’t typically active during the day. If you do see one during the daylight, that likely means there’s a big infestation nearby.
- There are droppings. Unfortunately, fecal droppings are an easy way to spot a rat infestation. When you see them, Orkin recommends removing them—while wearing respiratory protection—and being on the lookout to see if more appear.
- You can hear them. If you hear scurrying or scratching inside of your walls, you likely have a rat problem.
- There’s damage to your home. Rats like to chew on wood, plastic, and other hard surfaces. If you’re starting to see gnaw marks around your home—especially if you don’t have a pet that might be the cause—then you might have a rat infestation.
How to get rid of rats in your home:
1. Seal gaps in your home.
Rats don’t need a huge entry point to get inside of your home. Make sure gaps that are ½ inch wide are covered up. Smith’s Pest Management suggests using wire wool, metal kick plates, cement, or caulk to fill these, and to check on them often to ensure they’re in good condition.
2. Get rid of clutter.
Any easy way to ward off rats is to get rid of their hiding spots and minimize the food available to them. This means moving objects away from walls, cleaning up clutter, keeping food in airtight containers, and putting trash in closed bins.
3. Use traps.
Trapping is a poison-free way to kill rats. All you have to do is use some peanut butter, unsalted seeds, bananas, or apples as bait. If you go for this method, make sure to put the traps in areas where you think the rats congregate.
4. Try natural deterrents.
As with most pest infestations, you can try a few natural deterrents with ingredients you may already have in your home. For rats, you can try spreading peppermint oil, cayenne pepper, black pepper, or cloves around your home’s exterior to keep them out. Inside, you can try spreading crushed pepper or spraying pepper spray near rat holes.
5. Call an expert.
If you want a fast solution and don’t want to bother DIYing rat control, call a pest management company. You’ll especially want to call up a professional if rats are in your walls, so they can get rid of them without causing more damage to your home.
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