Home Remedies for Rats

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When you think of rats, New York City is one of the main destinations that usually come to mind. There is the notion that rats are invading the sewer and subway system when the reality of it all is that the majority of rats live in burrows at ground or basement level. Rats seek out places to live that offer them their basic necessities to eat, drink, live and safely move about. If you find yourself with this unwanted pest, perhaps home remedies for rats can help.

Common Rat Information

It is the Norway rat (Rattus norvegicus – also known as the brown rat or sewer rat) that makes a home in both urban and suburban neighborhoods. The rodents are dangerous to your health because they not only eat and contaminate food, but they also have the capacity to spread diseases to humans and pets [1]. The pests also damage buildings and other property with their gnawing and burrowing.

The Norway rat is brownish in color and husky in build. It weighs about 11 ounces and measures between 13 and 18 includes long. The underside of the rat is usually gray to yellowish-white. Rats will eat nearly any kind of food, but they are most attracted to fresh grains and meat. In order to survive, the pests require ½ to 1 ounce of water on a daily basis. The rodents are also equipped with a keen sense of smell, hearing, and taste.

When a Norway rat needs to find food or shelter, it will climb. and if they are lucky enough to locate an opening larger than ½ inch across, they are able to gain entrance into a home or building. When rats mate, they can produce litters of 6 to 12 young, which are born 21 to 23 days after mating. In about three months, the newborn rats have reached reproductive maturity. The rats can live for up to 18 months, but most die before they reach their first birthday.

Causes and Symptoms

Rats are more likely to settle in at your home if you have pet waste odors, outdoor food bowls, broken garbage containers, BBQ grills, compost bins, vegetable garden waste, or backyard fruit and nut trees [2]. Signs that you have a rat living about your surroundings include the detection of rat droppings or evidence of fresh gnawing. The rat will also leave behind footprints and tracks in muddy or dusty surfaces.

Rat Home Remedies

When approaching a rodent problem, a suggested course of action should include searching for evidence, cleaning up after the pests, cutting off their food supply, shutting them out of your home, and then eliminating their presence altogether. Home remedies for rats can help you say goodbye to unwanted houseguests by using everyday, household supplies. A few to consider include:

a) Steel Wool:

When you’re looking for an inexpensive material to seal the small openings in your home, consider steel wool – something that rats cannot eat through. Use steel wool to fill cracks in the floor, stuff between baseboards and walls, as well as block small entryways in pipes and vents.

b) Clean Up:

A clean and tidy home gives rats fewer places to hide and reduces the number of food sources for the rodent.

c) Trash Cans and Garbage Lids:

Garbage cans should have hard plastic lids that make it difficult for rats to reach your trash. Also, make sure there are enough trashcans available for inside and outside your home (or business) so that garbage does not accumulate and attract rats.

d) Kitchen-Ready Rat Bait:

When baiting a trap for a rat, keep in mind that banana, bread, cheese, and raw bacon are especially tempting to this rodent.

e) Landscaping:

Remove tall weeds and overgrown shrubs to reduce the number of places close to the ground that a rat may hide or nest in.

f) Fill in Cracks and Holes:

Inspect your home for cracks and holes that could become a rat’s new home. Fill and seal openings found in the foundation of your building, sidewalk, and under doors [3]. Use durable materials for repairs and sealing, such as metal, concrete, and heavy welded wire.

g) Eliminate Nesting Sites:

If a rat has no place to hide or nest, it is more likely to look for shelter elsewhere. Some locations to consider include stacks of firewood, brush and debris piles, dense shrubbery, ground covers, and ivy.

h) Eliminate Water Sources:

Rats gravitate to places where they have access to water, especially when they live in a dry climate. It is important to eliminate the typical sources of water for a rat – both inside and outside of the home. Fix leaky faucets and repair damaged irrigation lines. Monitor water bowls for pets. Remove any sources of standing water, such as flowerpots and old tires.

i) Clean BBQ Grills:

The odor associated with BBQ grills is especially enticing to a rat. They will eat any residue left behind from scraps of meat and fat. If you can, store your grill in a secure shed when not in use and diligently remove any grease and food debris.

j) Proper Bird Seed Storage:

If you like to feed birds around your home, make sure you practice good seed storage, which is a decent way to deter rat activity. Choose a metal, rodent-proof container to store your seed, and place in a location that is hard for rats to reach.

k) Latex Gloves:

Rats are equipped with a keen sense of smell, so they are better able to detect the scent of humans. They will avoid a trap that has the scent of a human. When handling and setting traps, use latex gloves to mask your odor.

l) Bleach and Water:

Rats are notorious for spreading disease. As soon as you spot rat droppings, sweep the floors, and then clean all surfaces with a 50/50 mixture of bleach and water. Wear gloves while administering this home remedy for rats.

m) Peanut Butter and Boric Acid:

Boric acid has a reputation for killing pests. When baiting traps for rats, use a mixture of peanut butter and boric acid. Place peanut butter in a disposable container and add in at least 1/8 cup of boric acid. Mix with a disposable fork or knife. This will make a decent rat trap bait. You can also roll the mixture into pea-sized balls in the palm of your hand, and then position the “balls” under cabinets and behind appliances. The “balls” should not be in a place that kids and pets are able to reach. Don’t forget to wear gloves when preparing and handling this home remedy for rats.


[1] http://www.idph.state.il.us/envhealth/pcnorwayrat.htm
[2] http://www.wbu.com/education/rodentremedies.html
[3] http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/html/pr2008/pr070-08.shtml