Top tips on how to get rid of rats

A notoriously destructive and stubborn plague, rats require patience and determination to eradicate.

How to deal with rats, from Country Life

Rat infestations

Rats can cause huge damage to crops, carry deadly diseases to humans and cause huge damage to properties. Their numbers have exploded to around 70 million in the UK and with many councils now charging households for pest control, you will want to avoid rats ever becoming a problem.

How do you know if you’ve got rats?

How do you tell whether you have rats? The answer is If you see a rat, you’ve got rats; if you see rats you’ve probably got an infestation. Other tell-tale signs such as droppings, rat runs and the gnawing of wood are also key indicators. The trick is not to attract them in the first place so don’t leave food accessible in plastic bin bags, put meat into compost or allow bird table spillages to accumulate.

How do you get rid of rats?

To get rid of rats is not easy. They are ingenious, suspicious and generally move at night. However, rats need two things: food and water. If you can cut off their supply to these the rats will disappear. Rats, unlike mice, are dependant on a regular water supply. If this is not possible you are going to have to kill them.

How to kill rats

Poisoning rats

Unquestionably poison is the most effective way of dealing with a rat infestation. Poison is obtainable at garden and farm supply stores. The best method is to put the poison in a series of rat boxes and place them between their holes and their food or water source or where there are signs of droppings.

Rats are suspicious and it may take a week for them to accept the box as part of their environment and start using it. The poison should be checked every three to four days and replaced as necessary. It is vital that the poison is kept out of reach of cats, dogs and other animals. Most rats that take poison will die in their holes, but any found should be disposed of, preferably by burning. In some cases, it is worth taking the poison to the rats and to do this I was taught to put some poison in a ball of cling film and put it into a hole, covering the opening with a brick. Some rats are becoming resistant to poison and it is worth trying different makes over time.


Due to their suspicious nature traps should be baited for a week, replacing bait as it is taken before setting the traps. Traps have the advantage in that you will not end up with a dead, stinking rat under your floorboards, but it is not generally a successful method if you have got a serious problem.

Other methods of rat removal  

Get a cat – cats kill vermin, but the best ratters tend to be farmyard cats that live out of the house and ‘work’ for a living.

Get a terrier – terriers can be very effective, if used in conjunction with various devices for smoking out rats of their holes.

Electronic devices

These emit electromagnetic waves and/or high pitched sound waves inaudible to humans. The jury is still out on these but, if you have had your house invaded, I would certainly try them. I know of people who swear by them.

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