“Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.”
You hear the squeaky noises. You feel the smell. You catch a glimpse of a grey ball of fur, disappearing as fast as it appeared, and you pray that this is not happening. We have some bad news for you: this is happening. Your home is being infested by rats.
Don’t think they’ll go away, because they won’t. At the moment you actually see one of them is almost too late, they are there, they are nesting and they are multiplying. The reality is as bad as it sounds. Although these first words might make you sick, we only want to raise awareness about this matter, and help you choose the correct steps and actions to solve the problem, in the best and fastest way possible.
Why do you have rats?
You are a clean person, you mown your lawn, don’t leave the dog food scattered all over the place, and the garbage collectors are never late. So why do you have rats?
Naturally, rats are opportunist omnivorous feeders. Guided by their acute olfactory sense, they can smell anything that could be a possible food source. A bird feeder could be a great incent, even if it’s not reachable, since the birds always spread some of the seeds while eating.
Disgusting as it sound, rats could eat dog and other animal droppings, spreading numerous diseases.
Keep in mind if you are dealing with rats infestation to keep anything that could constitute their food, out of the way. Lock pets and bird food in tight plastic containers, meticulously clean all the areas that can provide shelter (bushes, basement, pavement blocks), make sure the trash bin is always clean and take the garbage out of the property as often as possible.
Rats have taste aversions, which basically means they learn to distinguish between poisonous and clear food, next time avoiding the food that makes it ill. More so, they could associate poisonous and toxic food with places, teaching them to stay away from the dangerous areas.
Vomiting is impossible for rats, so they developed a small fear for new foods, called Neophobia. The first time they encounter a new food they will only eat a small portion for testing. Although a rat can’t vomit, they still have a simple trick to counter poisoning by eating clay in large quantities to dilute the bad food or poison. This is the reason why some poisons are not effective.
Environment and home impact
Since rats food consists of almost anything organic, nothing is really safe. They can contaminate livestock food, humans food, gnaw through cardboard, plastic and wood packages, cause a mess by gnawing on electrical wires, door ledges, walls and ceilings for nesting. Rats can spread numerous diseases such as murine typhus, leptospirosis, salmonellosis (food poisoning), and ratbite fever.
Rats often decimate bird population, by invading their nesting places and eating the eggs and small chicks. A species of rat, called ricefield rat, lives in the Southeast Asia and produces massive damage through the rice crops. Because neither the roof rat nor the Norway rat is native to the United States, their presence in the wild is very detrimental to native ecosystems.
If you don’t take immediate action rat infestation will get soon out of your hands. Fortunately there are plenty of counter-measures to solve this problem. Some of them are humane, while others just focus on eradicating the rats. Depending on your needs and preferences, you can opt for traps, poisons, or other humane (or not) repellants.
5 Rat Traps Proven to Work
Cage trap. If you humanely want to get rid of the rats, this might be the best solution, although not the best trap. Its design and functionality are simple, easy to set and use, and it’s doing the job. Not suitable for a large number of rats, because you need to reset the trap every time its mechanism is activated. This trap requires a bait, it won’t work without it.
Glue traps. This method works better if you already know the rats paths. If you don’t know how to find these paths, check out this article about rats behavior and types. The system is as easy as it sounds, spreading some specific glue on a piece of cardboard would do the trick. You could also add some bait to increase the efficiency of this system. Another plus is that it’s able to catch more than one individual, but this is not a trap that should be used if releasing the rodent is intended. The rats will die trough asphyxiation and dehydration.
The funnel trap. The rat is conducted through a dome shaped funnel, directly into the cage. They can get in, due to their extreme flexibility, but can’t get out because of the tips of the wires from which the funnel is constructed, which are poking them and keeping them from escaping. Proper bait is a great plus to the efficiency, being able to hold more than one rats inside. We put this into the humane traps category.
The rat is killed by electric current when it steps on the metal plate. Powerful high voltage electricity is stored in the system’s batteries and bursts into the victim when it makes the contact between the plates, or the plates and ground. It’s a quick sudden death, and we might categorize this into the humane section. Also this rat trap can annihilate more than one rat at a time.
Snap traps. We are all familiar with them, and their usage. It’s brutal, it’s messy sometimes, and we don’t recommend it. Still it could come in handy when desperate times call for desperate measures. But we still don’t recommend it. The mechanism is fairly simple: a small metal bar kept in tension by a spring will activate when the rat will touch the bait, snapping the rat in the back and immobilizing it to the trap. Most of the times the hit will snap the rodent’s backbone, killing it instantly, but not necessarily. Another big flaw is that it can only catch one rat, which needs to be removed manually.
Another efficient way to eliminate rats is poison. The rat poison spectrum could vary a lot, depending on their action method and ingredients used. We will split this into three large categories.
3 Most Used Rat Poisons
Anticoagulants are blocking the vitamin K cycle, reducing the ability of the rat to replenish essential blood-clotting factors. The capillaries suffer the most damage, making them more permeable, causing diffuse internal bleeding, which will gradually kill the rat. The main reason for the slow killing is to avoid the rat’s neophobia, which was mentioned earlier, and avoid long term taste aversion which alerts the rat the bait is toxic.
There is also a stronger version of this poison which is used in a single dose, mostly when rats become resistant to the lighter version, referred as superwarfarins.
Metal phosphides are considered a fast single-dose killing agent. The main ingredient is zinc phosphide, which after ingestion in reaction with the digestive acids will release the extremely lethal phosphine gas, killing the victim in 1 to 3 days. It is mostly used in areas where rats became resistant to anticoagulants, and overcame the bait shyness. The garlic-like odor attracts are efficient as they do not repel the rodents, but have a repulsive effect on other mammals. Birds are not sensitive to the smell, making them susceptible of poison ingestion, so keep this in mind when administrating this rat poison.
Hypercalcemia is toxic to rats for the same reason they are important to humans: they affect calcium and phosphate homeostasis in the body. In large doses it increases the calcium absorption from normal food, calcifying the internal organs (kidneys, stomach walls and lungs) and leading further to heart problems, internal bleeding and kidney failure.
Calciferols are synergistic with the anticoagulants, making each more effective when used together. Don’t mix them at home, there are plenty ready-mixed products on the market. Don’t use this poison in your pet’s reachable area, it is known to be extremely toxic to them too.
If you don’t want to deal with traps or poisons, you could use various rat repellents.
The two major types most used are electronic and botanical.
An electronic repellent is a device that uses ultrasounds on a high frequency, which is annoying to rodents. The ultrasonic repellants requires no poison, do not put the user in direct contact with rats and their possible diseases, and makes no sound, although some people might hear them “humming” or “chirping”. These devices are not very eco-friendly, since they run on electricity and are built from plastic. Also they could bother other house or farm inhabitants, such as dogs, cats and even large animals like horses.
A botanical repellent uses plant-based materials and volatile oils that are offensive to rats, to drive them away from the property.
Rat infestation is a serious matter that could easily get out of your hands. If you are uncertain what to do, please reach a pest control company and let the specialists handle the problem. You may also browse our website and find the best solution to your specific problem. We try to cover all the areas and explain the solutions in detail for any type of rats, their habits, nesting places, trapping and repelling systems, and poisons spectrum.