How to Get Rid of Rats Under a Building

Learn how to stop and prevent a rat infestation under your building.
Learn how to stop and prevent a rat infestation under your building. (Image: "rats" image by Christopher Martin from

Rats are one of the most difficult pests to rid from a home or building. Once rats gain entrance to a structure, they have an ability to reproduce rapidly, producing up to a dozen offspring in a matter of days. Nevertheless, while a rat infestation under a building may pose a problem, full remediation of an infestation is quite simple with a little time and the proper tools.

Things You'll Need

  • Snap traps
  • Cheese or peanut butter
  • Mothballs
  • Steel wool pads

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Locate the crawl space. The crawl space is an area that is under a building and is usually accessible from the interior basement or from the exterior under a porch or near a basement window. This is where rats usually gain entrance to a building and have set up colonies.

Look for rat colonies. Rat colonies are areas where offspring are produced and where rats interact with each other. Colonies can be identified by areas that contain excess rat feces as well as rats’ nests. Nests are constructed of shreds of paper and various scrap material that is similar to that of a bird’s nest.

Set up snap traps. Snap traps are by far the most cost effective and successful method of capturing rats. Place the cheese or peanut butter bait onto the snap mechanism before actually setting the trap. It is important to place only a small amount of bait onto the snap trap. If too much bait is placed on the snap mechanism, this will attract more rats while giving them an opportunity to feed without disturbing the snap mechanism on the trap. Once you have placed the bait, you can begin setting up the snap traps.

Place the snap traps near and around colonies. Be sure that your placement of the snap traps does not disturb any of the existing materials that the rats have accumulated. This way, the rats will be more likely to revisit the same areas they have already occupied.

Check the snap traps periodically. If you have caught any rats, you can then dispose of them and reuse the traps to catch any remaining rats.

Place your mothballs. After a few weeks you should see the number of rats in your building decrease. This is the time to place mothballs. It is important that you use old-fashioned mothballs that contain the active ingredient naphthalene. The chemical naphthalene depletes red blood cells in the body, which makes rats sick, resulting in them avoiding the area. Place mothballs in the crawl space and on the exterior of the building to keep rats from returning indefinitely.

Seal up any entry points. Rats may have chewed through wood to gain access to your building, therefore, this must be replaced to keep rats from gaining access in the future. You may also plug up any holes with steel wool pads.


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