Having rats in your yard can be just as bad as having them in your house. They can contaminate your garden, and they’re a danger to your kids and pets. And if you let them hang out in your yard long enough, it will only be a matter of time before they find their way into your home. If you act quickly, you can stop them from invading your home and keep them from coming back.
Here’s how to keep rats away:
Clean You’re Yard
Before you even think about traps or poison, you need to clean up your yard. The goal is to eliminate any and all hiding spots to make your yard less hospitable to rodents. Remember – rats hate being in open spaces. The less junk and overgrowth you have in your yard, the less likely rodents will be to find a place to nest and hide.
Keep your grass trimmed.
Remove piles of wood, junk, cardboard and other debris.
Seal gaps or holes in storage sheds and other outdoor buildings.
Cut off access to food supplies by removing fallen nuts, fruits and vegetables from the ground.
Make sure that your trash cans are tightly secured, and empty them frequently.
Use bird feeders instead of scattering feed on the ground.
Do not leave pet food out.
A clean yard that’s free of debris and overgrowth will be less attractive to rats. They’ll have nowhere to hide, and if you cut off their food supply, they’ll have even fewer reasons to stick around.
Lay Traps or Use Poison
Once you’ve cleaned up your yard, you can start tackling your rat problem. Traps and poisons are typically the most effective options if you want to kill the rats.
There are a few different types of traps to choose from:
Snap: A wooden, plastic or metal trap with a snap hinge that kills rodents instantly. The rat will have to walk into the trap to trigger the snap hinge. Bait (i.e. food) will lure the rodent inside. Traps must be large enough for rats.
Glue: A trap that uses a powerful adhesive to keep the rat in place. Just as its name suggests, rodents become glued to the trap, making it impossible for them to move.
Zapper: Zapper traps deliver a high-voltage shock to the rat, killing it instantly. In most cases, you never have to touch or even see the trapped rat.
Some people prefer to use poisons to kill rats. This may work well for outdoor rodents because there’s less of a risk of them dying in the walls. Poisons also allow you to kill a lot of rats at once.
In some cases, poisons can simply be scattered outdoors, but generally, it’s best to use bait stations to prevent children and pets from getting into the poison.
Just as there are different types of traps, there are also different types of poisons that kill rats.
Anticoagulants: The most common type of rodenticide. These poisons contain chemicals that interfere with the blood’s ability to clot. Anticoagulants are slow-acting, so it takes several days to kill the rat.
Bromethalin: A neurotoxin that targets the liver and brain. Rats die in a few hours after a single ingestion of the poison. This type of poison should never be used around pets.
Vitamin-based: Slow-acting, vitamin-based poisons flood the rat’s system with fat-soluble vitamins. The overload of the vitamin kills the rat after about a day.
It’s best not to combine traps and poisons. Choose one or the other when tackling your rat problem.
Also, when using poisons or traps, make sure that you’re using them away from water sources. Rats may still escape a trap or run off with poison, and they could potentially contaminate water supplies.
If you don’t wish to kill the rats, you can use a humane trap to catch them and release them far from your home.
The primary risk with the catch-and-release method is that you’re just handing your problem over to someone else. In all likelihood, the rats will wind up on someone else’s property or in their home. That’s not to say that we condone the killing of animals (we don’t), but depending on your location, catch-and-release may not be the ideal option.
With that said, you’ll find many humane traps available online and in home improvement stores. These are traps that simply catch the rats. But keep in mind that if you leave the rats in there for too long, they will die of dehydration and/or starvation. That’s even crueler than using a zapper or snap trap.
Live traps are usually made of metal and have a trigger mechanism that closes the door once the rat walks far enough inside. You’ll still need to use bait, though.
The most common and effective rat baits include:
- Peanut butter
- Dried nuts or fruit
- Nesting materials
When releasing the rat, make sure that you choose a place where the rodent can find shelter. Rats won’t survive for long when exposed to extreme temperatures.
Ideally, you want to release the rats late in the evening. These creatures have poor eyesight, so they’ll have a harder time finding their way back to your home if they’re released in the dark.
We recommend coming up with a plan for relocating the rats before you get started. Also, keep in mind that this method won’t be ideal for major infestations.