How to Get Rid of Rats Without Harming the Environment

Three Parts:Removing Rats From Inside a BuildingUsing Environmentally Friendly DeterrentsPreventing Rats From Getting In

Like any other animal, rats have their place in their ecosystems and play a vital role as a predator and food source for other creatures. And while it’s possible to live in close proximity to wild rats without ever knowing or being affected, rats that get into a building may eat any food that’s available, chew through building and electrical materials, and can bring in fleas and other diseases. But using poison to kill rats in a home, school, workplace, or other building is also dangerous to the environment, people, and pets and other animals, and should be avoided. Instead, one of the eco-friendliest ways to get rid of rats involves rat-proofing buildings so they don’t get in to begin with, or trapping and removing any that have entered a building.

Part 1
Removing Rats From Inside a Building

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    Select a trap style. Rats that have entered a building do need to be removed before they can cause any damage, and the easiest way to catch them is with traps.[1] There are many styles of traps out there, depending on your intention:
    • Live traps are the most environmentally friendly and humane, because they don’t kill the rats. Instead, they trap living rats so you can relocate them.[2]
    • Glue traps are extremely inhumane. Animals caught in them often cause themselves severe injuries trying to escape, and they usually die of starvation or dehydration.[3]
    • Snap traps are a less inhumane trap for dealing with rats when you intend to kill the animal. They are spring-loaded and designed to kill the rat quickly. Use a metal or quality plastic one that can be reused.
    • Electrical traps are also less inhumane than glue traps, but are also designed to kill the animal.[4]
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    Place the traps around the building. Trap placement is very important when you're trying to get rid of rats. Once they’ve established themselves in a building, rats will tend to follow the same paths over and over again, so if you don’t get the traps in these locations, you may not catch them.[5] Place your traps:
    • Close to where you’ve found any droppings.[6]
    • Along the base of walls, at a 90-degree angle to the walls, and with the baited end closest to the wall.[7]
    • Out of the way of people, children, pets, and other wildlife.[8]
    • Two or three in a row, especially with spring traps, to stop the rat from just jumping over it.
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    Keep pets and kids away from set traps. If you have pets or children in the home, you should take extra precautions to prevent them from getting hurt with a trap. Instead of leaving the traps out and exposed, place them inside a lidded cardboard box. Cut a square or round hole (about three to four inches) in either side of the box, and then place the box where you would normally put the trap.[9]
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    Bait the traps. When you bait a snap trap, be sure the food is securely attached to the mechanism that trips the spring,[10] and use the least bait possible to prevent the rat from just running off with it.[11] There are many different foods you can use to bait a trap to catch a rat, but some of their favorites include:
    • Peanut butter (either mix it with oats or spread it over a cotton ball)[12]
    • Pumpkin seeds[13]
    • Apples, bananas, or other fruit
    • Meat, and especially bacon[14]
    • Vegetables, and especially corn[15]
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    Set the traps. Some traps, like a live or electric trap, you can set right away. But with snap traps, you may have to bait the trap once or twice before actually setting it. Rats can be quite cautious of new things in their environment, so if they set off a trap that’s baited and set without being caught, they won’t go near another one in the future. You can get them used to the trap by baiting it a few times without setting it, and allowing them to eat the bait.[16]
    • Once you’ve baited the trap a couple times and the rat has eaten the food, set the trap.
    • For some snap traps, you'll just have to pull the lever back to set them,[17] but with others you have to pull back the bar attached to the spring, then wedge the pin into the metal trigger.[18]
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    Release or remove the rats you catch. Never touch a wild rat without the protection of gloves, even if the animal is dead. With live traps, take the entire trap to a nearby field or forest, open the trap and let the animal escape.
    • To deal with a dead rat, wrap the body in two plastic bags, sealing each separately. You can then dispose of the body according to local by-laws, such as by burying it or throwing it in the garbage.[19]
    • If you happen to find a live rat caught it a glue trap, you can free the animal by massaging cooking oil or mineral oil around the glue where the animal is stuck. Eventually the oil will remove the glue’s stickiness, and the animal can then be freed and transferred to a shoe box for relocation.[20]

Part 2
Using Environmentally Friendly Deterrents

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    Get a cat. If you have a large infestation of rats that have already taken up residence in your home or on your property, there are green ways that you can get rid of them. Pet cats are one such way, as cats instinctively prey on mice, rats, and other rodents, and have been used for a very long time in agrarian societies to keep pests away from grain and food stores.
    • If you don’t have a cat, consider visiting your local shelter to see if they have any cats available for adoption. Inquire about whether any of them are known mousers.[21]
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    Get a dog. Like cats, some dog breeds-—particularly terriers—can be excellent rodent hunters. If you're more of a dog person and are able to take on the full responsibility of being a pet guardian, visit your local shelter and see what kinds of terriers they have available for adoption.
    • Not only will the dog be able to hunt any rats that are already on the property, but they will deter new ones from moving in.[22]
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    Install a barn owl box. Barn owls are found all over the world, and they love eating mice, rats, and other rodents. While you can't keep one as a pet to deal with your rodent problem, you can encourage a barn owl to take up residence near your property, and it will hunt and consume rodents in large numbers.[23]
    • Barn owl boxes are simple to make as a DIY project, or you can purchase them online.
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    Repel them with mint. Peppermint and plants in the mint family may act as natural repellents for rodents, and there are a few ways you can use them around your house to deter rats:[24]
    • Plant mint around your house, especially in any areas that you know rats frequent.
    • Soak cotton balls with peppermint oil and place them around access points, such as doors and windows.
    • Fill a spray bottle with one cup (240 ml) water and add in 25 drops of peppermint oil. Shake well, and spray this solution around the outside of your home, on doors, windows, and outbuildings.
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    Use rataway. Rataway is a specially blended and concentrated fragrance that’s designed to remove the odors left behind by rodents and other animals. While it may not get rid of a rat that’s already in your house, it will prevent others from being attracted by the smells left behind by rodents that have already been there.[25]
    • Rataway gets mixed with water in a spray bottle and sprayed on areas where rats have been, marked territory, urinated, or left other odors.
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    Avoid second-generation rodenticides. Second-generation rodenticides are poisons that will kill an animal with one dose, meaning other animals—such as pets—are just as likely to die from eating them as the rats are. Moreover, these toxins tend to stay in the body, meaning they can also poison scavengers and birds of prey.[26] Avoid rat poisons that contain ingredients like:[27]
    • Difenacoum
    • Difethialone
    • Brodifacoum
    • Bromadiolone
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    Try first-generation rodenticides instead. If you have a rat infestation and are looking for a quick fix, there are poisons out there you can use that will kill the rats without endangering other creatures. First-generation baits are highly toxic to the animals that consume them, but are much less likely to poison other animals as well. These poisons require several feedings before a lethal dose is delivered. Look for active ingredients such as:[28]
    • Chlorophacinone
    • Diphacinone
    • Warfarin or warfarin sodium salt
    • Sodium salt[29]

Part 3
Preventing Rats From Getting In

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    Eliminate sources of food. The best way to get rid of rats from around your property and to prevent them from coming back is to remove anything that might attract them, and this includes food, shelter, nest material, and even openings into your home. Rats will eat most anything, so avoid storing food outside. If you're going to store food in a garage, basement, or shed, store it in rodent-proof containers.[30] This includes:[31]
    • Pet food
    • Birdseed
    • Organic fertilizer
    • Fallen fruit and vegetables from the garden
    • Pet droppings
    • Water sources (fix leaky faucets and cover pools and drains)
    • Garbage
    • Compost (turn it frequently and use a pest-proof composter)
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    Remove possible habitats. Rats aren't as picky as humans when it comes to where they live, so where you might see a pile of trash, a rat will see a perfectly good home. Pick up, remove, or cut down anything from around your property that a rat might use to make a nest, such as:
    • Yard waste
    • Construction materials
    • Wood piles
    • Garbage and junk
    • Furniture and old cars[32]
    • Overgrown grass, weeds, and bushes[33]
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    Cover up holes and openings. Holes, vents, openings, and other access points into your home might as well be a welcome sign for rats and other creatures. On top of removing attractants from outside, it’s also a good idea to cover any access points that rats could use to enter your house. When doing this, be sure to use materials that rats can't eat through, such as wire mesh, concrete, or mortar.[34]
    • Plug all holes in walls and floors that are more than a half inch (1.25 cm) in diameter.[35]
    • Cover vents, crawl spaces, and access points.
    • Fill in gaps where pipes or lines enter the home.
    • Fix gaps in doors, windows, and siding.
    • Repair foundation cracks.[36]
    • Cover openings in the chimney, as rats can drop down onto the roof from tree branches.[37]


  • While rodent smoke bombs do exist, they aren't safe for the environment, humans, or other animals, and they are not meant to be used indoors.

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Categories: Rodent Control