Rats can get inside just about anywhere. They climb well, and they love to chew. Rats cause serious damage to buildings by chewing through walls, vinyl and wood, and they can cause electrical fires by chewing through wires.
If you don’t have a positive sighting of a rat on the premises, its presence can be determined by the trail of droppings it leaves behind. Rat droppings are dark, oval pellets about a half to three-quarters of an inch long. Gnaw marks in and around plumbing pipes and brickwork are other indicators.
The most common types of rats are the Norway rat and the roof rat. Norway rats are capable of coming into buildings through sewer lines and gaining entrance to the house through the toilet. Roof rats run along electrical wires and gain access through the attic.
Things You'll Need
- Snap rat trap, live trap or other trap
- Mortar, caulking or metal mesh
- Tabasco sauce (or other hot sauce)
- Spray bottle
- Rubber gloves
- Broom and dustpan
Find out where the rats are. Look for a high density of droppings.
Bait your traps with peanut butter. Peanut butter is hard for rats to steal.
Set your traps. These rodents travel next to walls. Set traps so the trigger plate is adjacent to the garage wall. Be sure to set the traps out of the way of human traffic, as rat traps are significant and could break a finger. Consider the different kinds of traps that will work best for you. The classic snap trap with spring-loaded wire will kill the rat. Poison and poison pellets can be used but are a danger to children and pets. Also, the rat won’t die instantly and may hide within the walls of your garage.
Plug all the holes on the exterior wall with mortar, caulking or metal mesh. Look for spaces of approximately half an inch between pipes and wires. Be sure to place adequate material to prevent the rat from chewing through. After plugging the hole, spray a stream of Tabasco sauce in the area to deter future visits.
Clean the area. Remove all sources of food. This includes any bird seed and dry pet food. Place them in airtight metal or heavy plastic containers. Remove any areas that rats can hide in such as trash, wood piles and old furniture.
Sweep and dispose of all rat droppings, as they may become "food" for other rats. Spray all areas with a disinfectant such as Dettol or PineSol.
Check and reset your traps weekly. If you have caught a rat, put on rubber gloves to remove and dispose of the dead animal and the trap.
If an infestation is obvious, seek professional help from an exterminator.
Tips & Warnings
- When applying caulking, use expandable foam caulking.
- Sticky traps and live traps can also be used.
- Keep your bird feeder away from buildings and clean up pet dishes to avoid attracting rats.
- Prevent rats from gnawing your bird feeder by attaching a collar around the pole.
- Attach a string or rope to the trap, as sometimes the trap and rat may go missing.
- Rodents are generally afraid of hawks, eagles and owls. Purchasing a large plastic owl may help deter future visits.
- If you see a rat, do not approach it. It is a wild creature and will defend itself, causing you injuries or illness.
- Set the trap on the floor and then arm the trap. Avoid moving the trap while it is set, as doing so may cause serious injury.