Mosquitoes flying around

How To Keep Rats Away

September 07, 2022

By Daniel Baldwin, BCE, CCFS, CP-FS

Discovering you have a rodent problem in your home is disturbing and can become dangerous. Rats can carry disease directly and indirectly to humans through a variety of methods, including bites, contact with their waste deposits, and via ticks, fleas, or mites that live on an infected rodent. Learn how to keep rats away from your living environment by taking action and using some preventive measures. 

How To Keep Rats from Entering Your Home

Rats are attracted to the inside of your house for two reasons: food and shelter. They’re looking for a warm spot to nest during the coldest parts of winter or a safe place to give birth and raise their young. They’ll also need a food and water source during the time they spend in your environment. 

Try these three tips to keep rats out of your home this winter. 

rats eating garage out of a trash bag

1. Remove Food Sources 

These undesirable houseguests will eat any kind of food that’s available to them. Removing food sources is a top way to keep rats away from your home. This means keeping a very clean home, as rats will head straight for any trace of food, including the following: 

  • Bird seed and animal feed around the property
  • Crumbs on floors or counters
  • Cereals, rice, and vegetables that are not sealed in airtight containers
  • Pet food that’s not tightly packaged
  • Traces as small as tiny drops of dried juice stuck to a cabinet door handle
  • A few grains of sugar on a countertop

To keep food safe from rats, seal everything in containers that can be shut tightly. Clean counters, cabinet doors, and kitchen floors on a daily basis. 

2. Seal Up Points of Entry 

Rats can get into buildings through cracks in the foundation or even by slipping through holes that are as small as a quarter. They can also gain entry to your home through vents, small gaps beneath doors and garages, floor drains, and fan openings. 

To make it much harder for rats to find shelter in your home, fill holes and gaps all around the house, including the basement and attic. Rats prefer nesting in spots that are usually undisturbed by humans, sometimes even making their home in your walls. 

3. Remove Spots Where Rats Can Make Homes

Rats will set up their nests in your home where they can hide, sleep, and reproduce. If you remove spots where they can build habitats and hiding places, they are more likely to leave your home.

These critters love clutter, as it gives them spots to nest and to hide from humans. Remove newspaper piles and other piles of cardboard or paper from your home. Clean out the basement on a regular basis. Store your items on shelving that’s away from walls and off the ground.

rat on a wood board

How To Keep Rats Away from Your Yard

Once rats are attracted to your yard, garden, or the perimeter of your house, they have a good chance of attempting to come inside the home. Keeping your property well maintained can prevent rats from getting close enough to your house to see if they can get inside. 

To see if rats are currently foraging in your yard, look for evidence of rats around your property, such as:

  • Droppings: Their feces are often found near garbage bins
  • Burrows: Look for holes that are about 1–4 inches wide in the dirt or even in concrete. The burrows will have an entry and exit hole (although the exit hole may be hidden from view) and are often found beneath bushes. 
  • Runways: Rats run back and forth along the same paths when hunting and bringing food to their nests. They tend to run closely alongside walls and in grass, leaving oily track marks behind. You’ll see a worn path in grassy areas they frequent.
  • Night sightings: Go outside at night with a flashlight and check around trash cans to see if rats scurry away. If so, you can look for their burrows in the daylight.
  • Gnaw marks: Rats gnaw on trash bags and cans, trying to get at the foods inside. They’ll also chew on possible entryways to your home, such as around pipes, to be able to squeeze inside.

When these rodents don’t have places to hide and make their burrows, they will go elsewhere. To keep rats away, try trimming trees and shrubs. Mow your lawn and keep it short. Keep plants and shrubs away from your home’s foundation. Pull weeds so they don’t overtake your garden, and plant flowers and bushes far apart, which will make it harder for rats to feed and hide in them.rat poison being installed

What To Do If You Have Rats

If you find evidence of rats in your home or on your property, it’s time to take some active steps to control the situation. Call Hawx right away for a visit. We will be able to identify the areas of your property where rats are showing activity and target the nests and food sources.

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