Rat Control and Prevention Tips for Do-It-Yourself Homeowners

No one wants to be stuck dealing with a rat infestation. Not only do they breed quickly and all year round, they can destroy entire homes through their incessant chewing of walls, electrical cords, and pretty much anything they come across. They can also carry fatal diseases like leptospirosis and salmonella.

In short, getting rid of rats takes far more work than necessary, which is why it’s better and more economical to prevent rats from the beginning. If you're concerned about rats in and around your home, here are some effective ways to prevent and control them:

Rat-Proof Your Home

  • Set up snap traps or glue traps around basements, attics, garages, and closets, which are the most common areas rats are known to frequent.
  • Consider replacing as many areas of your home with stronger materials like metal sheeting or concrete. Even rats can’t chew their way through these areas.
  • Keep it dry. Like most pests, rats thrive in moisture and will use it as their source of water and a place to hide amongst pipes and drains.
  • Keep a tight lid on garbage and compost bins. The smell can attract rats, who don’t mind foraging trash for food.
  • Seal up cracks and keep the windows and doors tightly sealed.
  • Keep any tree branches away from your home, especially near your roof. Rats can use branches to gain access to the exterior of your home, and from there, they can invade the interior, particularly attic spaces.
  • If you have a fireplace, make sure to inspect it often and keep draft inducers sealed properly.
  • Use galvanizing mesh to seal holes in the drywall. Rats may be able to chew through caulk, but not metal. Likewise, employ galvanized mesh screening over any exterior vents that your home may have.
  • Use natural herbs around the home’s foundation and in windowsills to repel rats. Peppermint, citronella, and spearmint are known to ward off rats and other pests.
  • If you have a cat, take some of its litter and place it near any entryways or holes in your walls. Since the cat is a natural predator of rats, the odor will cause any rats to avoid the area.

It's important to note that you are not advised to ever handle a rat in your home. A small bite or scratch from a rat can lead to a severe illness, and virtually all rats will react by biting or scratching if a homeowner tries to grab them. This can be especially dangerous if you're dealing with an entire colony of rats at once. If you do receive a bite or scratch from a rat, it is incredibly important to seek medical attention at once.

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