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How To Get Rid Of Rats? Oh Rats!

Updated on October 8, 2010

Oh Rats!

Whether you have a rat infestation or you have spied one rat in or around your premises contained in here is a wealth of information and a story or two about vermin rats. Once you have a rat problem you have to get rid of rats, there is no choice in the matter. Although since the first time I spied a rat I have gone on to have several pet rats dealing with rats as pests is extremely problematic rather than enjoyable. A rat infestation is a very serious matter and if you have only seen one rat, that can only mean that there a dozens more about that you do not see. Rats not can not only cause a lot of damage they also carry disease. Prior to actually seeing a live rat my only knowledge of them had come through the story of the Pied Piper read as a child. In my teens and since I had many opportunities to fully comprehend just how deeply the villagers came to appreciate the Pied Piper of Hamilton.

Rat Race

If you have no time for rat tales and you need information rat now, not mousy now, scroll down for the solutions to your rat infestation.

Vermin Rats

What follows here is an account of how a family of 'city slickers' found out how their new, idyllic country life could be changed overnight by the discovery of one dead rat. It was thirty-five years later that the first pet rat came into my life. Both first rats were to be the first of many - that is the thing about rats, you never have just one.

We moved to the country to fulfill my mother's dream of having her own horse. The fulfilling of this dream and our subsequent move to the country came about as a result of my father, after a night of drinking, having purchased a half Arab, half Welsh pony for me and our having nowhere to keep it on our manicured city lot. Establishing ourselves as responsible horse owners is a story unto itself and I mention it here only as it relates to our run ins with rats. Once the stables were built and the horses housed my father's next surprise for his unsuspecting family was the purchase of two piglets. A piece of plywood was put down on the floor of a tie stall, shavings were thrown over top and my father and brother built a trough. We inherited the job of cleaning the sty and 'slopping' the pigs. My father's job it seemed was to dress and act the part of a gentleman farmer which he did with great gusto.

The piglets were cute and friendly and wagged their curly little tails at the sight of their two reluctant caretakers. They soon became very ugly, stubborn and cantankerous and extremely smelly. Where we had first been very reluctant to consider their fates we now relished the thought of pay back in the form of dinner. I was the first one to discover that their was something else revolting about them as well. I had gone into a stall to feed one of our horses, an Arab mare, when I noticed she had two puncture marks on one of her flanks. Looking around her stall for a possible source of the wounds my horrified eyes landed on a dead rat. What ensued thereafter was nothing short of an all out war.

Rats Wars Is Star Wars Spelled Backwards

If you find yourself in a starring role in the war against rats there are some things you ought to know before engaging in battle.

  • For every rat that you see there are 20 or more rats that you don't see
  • Rats are attracted by pig slops
  • Rats tunnel under pig sties
  • When attempting to shoot a rat inside a barn it is quite likely that you will miss the rat and blow a hole in the barn door instead.
  • Swinging madly at a rat with the butt of a shotgun, as my father did as he and said rat raced across the field will not result in a dead rat but it will shatter the butt of one's great, great grandfather's shotgun should it connect with a rock.
  • When you stealthily send the now shattered antique shotgun off to a costly specialist to have it restored and expect to be quiet as a mouse about it ensure that your children are in on the 'secret'.  Not doing so is likely to result in turning one of your offspring into an unwitting rat when they happen to mention the incident in front of a uniformed spouse.
  • Trying to trap rats in a bunny cage when they go in after the baby bunnies is futile. This because anything a rat can get it's head through (and this includes some very small places indeed) the rest of the rat's body will follow.
  • When attempting to trap rats in a bunny cage it is imperative that you be aware that a pack of rats know no fear and will not hesitate to launch themselves at you.
  • That sending your seven year old brother running for the house to get your mother will not help - for two reasons. One the rats have already escaped the bunny cage and are now chasing you and your little sister. And two, mum will panic and run down to the stables in her housecoat as she tries to stuff shells for a 22 rifle into a 33. This does nothing to handled the rats and only results with a trail of 22 shells from the house to the stables.
  • Said trail of bullets is to a screaming mother and her two screaming daughters as bread crumbs were to Hansel and Gretel when in the confusion of being chased by a flurry of angry rats they have lost all wits and need someone or something to point the way to safety.
  • Keeping pigs in a stable is a very bad idea

Winning Rat Wars - Lock And Load

Winning the war on rats takes some intestinal fortitude, as with any war on anything one must have the guts for it. As rats do not often show themselves you are often fighting an invisible enemy and you must employ well hidden means to do so.

The best way, of course, to handle a rat infestation is to not attract rats in the first place.

Rats are attracted to:

  • Pet food this includes livestock feed
  • Food waste
  • Bird seed - bird feeders draw more than feathered friends
  • Pet waste
  • Fruit Trees and Berry Plants
  • Standing water
  • Compost Piles, Wood Piles and Storage Sheds
  • Crawl Spaces and Attics

Paper and plastic do not keep rats out.  Use metal trash cans and metal, glass or ceramic containers to store both people and pet food and metal feed bins for livestock feed.  Seal and secure any areas that rats may use for shelter and nesting.

Do you want to get rid of rats naturally?  Of course you do but I mean naturally as in without use of chemicals or poisons. 

Natural Rat Remedies:

  • Cotton balls dipped in peppermint
  • Well used kitty litter
  • Pellets containing predator's scents
  • Powdered rat repellents
  • Ultrasonic repellents
  • Peanut butter baited traps - it is important not to set the traps for a few days.  Replace the peanut butter as needed in order to allow the rats to get comfortable with the traps before setting them

The chemical and poisonous means of killing rats must be used with extreme caution as they are also harmful or lethal to children, pets and wildlife.  These methods should only be used when there is no danger of a child or a pet, other animals or birds coming into contact with poisonous pellets or bait. 

Rat poisons contain many dangerous chemicals, including strychnine, warfarin, sodium fluroacetate, bromethalin, zinc phosphide, and arsenic.

I Don't Mean To Leave You Dangling but.....

You will find my pet rat stories and the joys and heartaches of having a rat for a pet in another hub


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    • Jessy George profile image

      Jessy George 4 years ago from Nashville, Tennessee

      Best electronic mouse traps available in USA - top 5 list read

    • raisingme profile image

      raisingme 4 years ago from Fraser Valley, British Columbia

      Thanks to all for your feedback and comments. Glad some of you had a laugh and some realized some solutions. I apologize for my neglecting to get back to you. Haven't been on hubpages much since my husband passed away two years ago and my dad the year following. Heart wasn't in it.

    • rdsparrowriter profile image

      rdsparrowriter 4 years ago

      Very useful. I'm sharing it in my hub, I hope you don't mind. Voted up.

    • raisingme profile image

      raisingme 5 years ago from Fraser Valley, British Columbia

      Nice tip! Thank you.

    • profile image

      Elaine 5 years ago

      Mix canned cat food & peanut butter. The cat food is toxic to rats & the peanut attracts them to eat it.

    • profile image

      Lioness 5 years ago

      I loved this hub! It had me laughing out loud :)

      Thankfully, we don't have a rat problem - however, on our acreage rats and mice were common. (No rats inside though!)

    • profile image

      Becky 5 years ago

      I have only seen one well sorta. I here it!! My cats here it too!! Why isn't it afraid of my cats??? I am terrified!! Glue traps are not working, it actually has been chewing on it!!! So I bought a regular old wooden one, it has been chewing on it!!! I am so scared!!! I am not even kidding!!

    • profile image

      Rose 6 years ago

      I live in a villa in Florida, I have a neighbor attached to me that had about 6 birdfeeders going at once. I had rat droppings on my window sills and all across the back of my house. I told her the bird seed was attracting the rats and mice. She got angry with me and said I was ruining her life, cause she liked to watch the birds eat. She said she would only put three feeder back and I said it would still attract them, she would not listen. I had to go to the management and they made her take them down except one with three stations on it. I had already trapped a rat that was very big. I put poison out and an electronic plug in, it helps. We were friends before this happened and now we are not, she said I ruined her life. The selfishness of some people is unbelieveable. Shouldn't there be a law that if you live in an attached dwelling in a condo area that bird feeders should not be allowed?.

    • daviddwarren22 profile image

      daviddwarren22 6 years ago

      Thanks for the information.

    • raisingme profile image

      raisingme 7 years ago from Fraser Valley, British Columbia

      Apparently that is how rats have travelled around the world - following our garbage. We be slow learners! We have had pet rats for 15 years and I agree "they are lovely intelligent creatures". Thanks for the visit Nell.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 7 years ago from England

      Hi, I have a friend who is terrified of rats, and we go shopping every week to Asda a big store in the next town. everytime we come out we have to run to the car because she is frightened that one will come at her! this may sound funny, but stupidly so many people go into asda and buy macdonalds, come out eat it, and throw the package on the ground! I have seen at least four huge rats sitting there in the car park with a macdonalds rapper in their paws! I actually thought it looked quite amusing as I have had pet rats and they are lovely intelligent creatures, but I had to remind myself that these ones were wild and dangerous. if they just cleaned it up, there would be no problem, cheers nell

    • raisingme profile image

      raisingme 7 years ago from Fraser Valley, British Columbia

      Yes it is however we have done much to damage their natural habitats along with their natural predators so we end up playing the game of survival of the fittest. Rats and mice can do so much damage to wiring that one not to mention the diseases they carry so one is left without many options when faced with a rodent infestation. I like that peppermint soaked cotton balls in the tunnels deters them from hanging about. Much as one would think I would be used to rats by now I was recently viewing houses with my daughter and son-in-law who are planning to purchase a new home. Guess who was the one that got startled by a rat that had been attracted by the bird feeders!

    • profile image

      Baileybear 7 years ago

      when my husband had bird aviaries (sp?), in the winter, mice would make tunnels underneath to steal bird seed. Only way he could keep them under control was to put poison in their tunnels. He borrowed a mice catcher which collected lots, but then he had to get rid of them and ended up having to drown them, and they bred faster than he could trap them. We are animal lovers and it is horrible having to get rid of animals that are pests

    • raisingme profile image

      raisingme 7 years ago from Fraser Valley, British Columbia

      Good for you with the neighbors. Poisoning does not only harm people's pets the poisons either by direct contact or through dead rats also kill all manner of other wildlife right on down through to birds and insects. We lived just over the border from WA as in 10 minutes from and I remember when the horrendous rains brought the rats indoors. They came in through the dryer vent. It got to the point where I was tempted to add a ferret to our growing list of pets - birds, degus, pet rats, dogs, cats, guinea pig, rabbits and fish.

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 7 years ago from Washington

      We had roof rats in WA state one year after horrendous rains - and they invaded the woodpile, and just about everything else. It was a terrible thing! We had dogs at the time and I must say malamutes are great mousers and 'ratters' - yikes. I did have to fight with some neighbors though over using rat poisoning - since the rats kept coming into our yard and woodpile, I did not want my dogs getting hold of one since the poison can cause bleeding out/hemorrhaging! I would have preferred to trap them all (ha ha) and take them to a nice wooded area where rats dwell, but alas, we killed our share (though not with the poison). I finally convinced my neighbors that it wasn't in the best interests of cats or dogs about!

    • raisingme profile image

      raisingme 7 years ago from Fraser Valley, British Columbia

      Thank you, it was hard won!

    • Doggie Devotee profile image

      Doggie Devotee 7 years ago from Danville KY

      you have some very good info here