What to Do If a Rat Is in Your House

Nothing’s more annoying than hearing squeaking and chattering sounds around your house. You feel something promptly move past you but you fail to catch a glimpse of what it is. Within the next few days, you start seeing tiny droppings around specific locations in your house. Unfortunately, these are all telltale signs of a rat or mouse infestation.

Rats are one of the most hated household critters and for a good number of reasons. They are known to spread over 35 diseases through direct contact or contact with their feces, urine, or saliva. Furthermore, they are one of the world’s most destructive pests, chewing through food containers, gnawing through electrical wires and insulation, chewing through wood, and causing immense damage to your roof. Did you know that in the US, rats cause damages to homes in the tune of $500 million to $1 billion yearly?

If you sight a rat in your house, chances are that there are others. It also means that your house provides them with abundant food and a cozy shelter. You need to get rid of them as soon as possible to minimize potential damages and eliminate health risks. Here’s how to accomplish that:

Figure Out Their Entry Hole and Seal It!

Rats do not have teleportation abilities – there’s some hole somewhere, where they’re gaining entrance. Looking for those holes can be challenging because small rats can fit into holes the size of a quarter! Therefore, you have to search through your entire house diligently.

Once you’ve located these holes, seal them up with materials like steel wool, hardware cloth, caulk, or cement. This helps to ensure that the rat doesn’t just chew its way back in.

Set Traps Inside

Setting traps before sealing the entry holes is fruitless – new ones just keep coming in. Identify where they’re activity is concentrated – like near their food source – and set the traps there. It is advisable to set multiple traps to increase your chance of capturing them. When using a snap trap, appropriate bait to use include peanut butter, bacon, and many others.

As a note of caution, never make use of rat poison. It is inhumane as it causes a slow and painful death. Furthermore, the poisoned rat retreats to a hidden spot in your house and you might have a hard time finding the carcass or you might have to deal with the putrid smell for quite a while.

The best idea for implementing properly useful traps is to, as said, place them in these areas of high activity but you should also think about placing not just one but many traps in this area to get the best results.

Eliminate Food Source

Rats are resourceful and resilient, especially when there’s the promise of food. That’s why you have to store all your perishable food like flour, grains, and sugar in steel containers with sealed lids. You should also ensure that you regularly use a vacuum to pick all food crumbs that might be lying around. Also make sure that your pet food is not lying around for too long, especially if it’s outdoors.

Eliminate Potential Hiding Spots

When winter approaches, rats love to reside near human settlements because of the warm shelter it can potentially provide. Things live leaf litters, woodpiles, old cars, and unkempt garages are perfect places for rats to live in. That’s why you should clear them. Also, cut off thick vegetation as they provide a good hiding place.


Several home remedies are natural rat repellents. Rats do not like the smell of peppermint oil, hot pepper flakes, and the pungent smell of onions, just as they despise the pungent smell of garlic and ammonia. You can strategically apply these ingredients to your yard.

Rat In House

However, note that repellents alone will not keep rats away. When there’s abundant food, rats are hardy and will put up with discomforting conditions. That’s why repellents should only be used after all attractants have been eradicated.

Introduce a Natural Predator

Having a natural predator in your property is also a great way to keep rats away. For instance, a rat will think twice about coming into your home if a dog is living there. Similarly, rats are the sworn enemies of cats. A pet cat can also help kill rats in your house.

To take it a step further, you may even introduce some corn or garter snakes in your yard to keep the rat population in check. Once they’ve accomplished that, they move on to other locations – which is great for you.


To be honest, rats are one of the most frustrating household pests to deal with. Their resilience, high fecundity, and destructive capabilities form a formidable stronghold. If all your efforts to get rid of them fail, then you have to bring in a professional rat exterminator before things get out of hand.

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