How To Control Rats
The Problems of Rat Infestation
With so many rats around in the UK, there are many varied problems caused in different situations. In this sheet we try to cover those most common rat infestations experienced by the general public.
Rat control is difficult in many cases but can be achieved using either rat poison, rat traps, electronic devices or a combination of these rodent control and eradication methods.
The main task to achieve in any rat control programme is to identify the source of the problem and if that cannot be identified, then you have to eliminate the food supply, other than the rat poison you are going to employ to achieve riddance.
Harbourage reduction can also result in rapid control of rats, if they have nowhere to hide, they will soon depart, providing the food source is not too easily accessible.
Rats need water too, ensure there is no easily available water ie: dripping tap. Unlike mice, rats cannot survive without regular water supply.
Rats in the House
Next you have "sticky boards". These are inherrently cruel in use but, when you consider that a rat could chew through an electric cable and set your home on fire, the cruel and quick method may be worth consideration. We always suggest that this is the "last resort" as the rat will certainly suffer whilst retained on a rat catcher sticky board. Boards usually come with pre-bait in the glue but you can improve performance by adding some kind of attractant to the centre of the board. A nice nut placed in the middle may make it impossible for a rat to resist the temptation. You need to check glueboards very regularly, at least twice a day and humanely despatch any trapped rats. I don't think we want to go into how you will do that.
Information for Rats in House
If you have rats in your home, we feel sorry for you. Wild Rats living alongside you are not desirable and must be eradicated as soon as conditions allow.
Firstly, the priority is to try to find how they entered the property, as without doing this, you may not be able to totally solve the problem. Even if you clear the current rat infestation , rats may return in a month, a year or even 5 years down the line.
If you live in a rural area then it is likely that a fault in the structure of your property has allowed the rats access. Check for broken air bricks in external walls, forgotten holes in brickwork where maybe a new sink or toilet was installed and pipes run through the wall. You are looking for any hole of 2 inches (50mm) or more as a young rat can enter via a 2 inch hole!
Check under the eaves for holes. Internally, check around the whole ground floor flooring to see if there is any possibility they came up from under the floor. Pull washing machines, tumble dryers, cookers and other movable items away from the walls and check the flooring underneath and skirting boards. Remove kitchen kickboards to see if there are holes in the floor where rats could get under the kitchen fitted cupboards.
Prior to doing all this inside the house, it may be a good idea to leave the house entry doors open, should you disturb the rat in opening up kickboards and moving out cookers etc. you may be lucky and the rat will escape out of the door.
Seal any holes that you find. The best way to do this cannot really be covered here but if it is possible, use a good quality filler with broken glass fragments mixed in. This will prevent the rats chewing back through, however, ensure to check after 24 hours that the rats have not re-entered by chewing through the unset filler/mortar Pro-Active Rodent D-fence (proofing sealant)
If there are holes in floorboards, then maybe a metal tin lid could be affixed over the hole, alternatively, replace the damaged boarding.
If the rats have come up from under the floor,, it would be a good idea to remove a few floorboards and have a good look under the floor to identify any evidence of rat activity. Holes in the ground under the house (the oversite) should be investigated, particularly if there is no soil deposited around the holes, this would indicate that there may be access from underground. (see our DRAIN section below). Check you house plans for old sewers that may exist under your home.
Finally check the roof to see if there is any evidence of rat activity up there. Look for damaged items (gnawed) and perhaps droppings, however, droppings will normally be in just one area as rats like to have a toilet area, unlike mice who defecate anywhere! U.V Torch
Please also be aware that, if you live in a semi-detached or terraced property, there is a possibility rats may be intering your property from the adjacent home.
You need to think carefully about how you are going to deal with these rats. Using rat poison within the home or underneath the home can be problematic. If a rat dies in an inaccessible area, the smell of the rotting rat carcass will be horrendous, so beware.
Your best options are, live catch rat traps, break back rat traps, sticky glue rat traps (last resort) and of course rat poison. The most certain method is to use rat poison but you do carry a severe risk of there being odour and fly problems at a later date. Ona Gel (Linen)
So, it is trapping. There are numerous live catch rat traps on the market, we have found people have varying success depending on how carefully they set the traps and how clever their rat is at avoiding being caught! Good baits are, bacon, chocolate, nuts (particularly peanuts in their shells), siliconed to the rat trap treadle plate. Peanut butter is good on break back rat traps, sometimes called rat snap traps. Apple, tomato and potato are also often used with success against rats.
Next you have "sticky boards". These are inherrently cruel in use but, when you consider that a rat could chew through an electric cable and set your home on fire, the cruel and quick method may be worth consideration. We always suggest that this is the "last resort" as the rat will certainly suffer whilst retained on a rat catcher sticky board. Boards usually come with pre-bait in the glue but you can improve performance by adding some kind of attractant to the centre of the board. I nice nut placed in the middle may make it impossible for a rat to resist the temptation. You need to check glueboards very regularly, at least twice a day and humanely despatch any trapped rats. I don't think we want to go into how you will do that.
Rats in the Roof
Information for Rats in the Roof
This situation usually arises when rats have managed to escape from the sewerage system, either by exiting through a broken drainage pipe, or indeed, exiting via the Foul Air Outlet pipe that you see on older properties, usually near the bathroom or upstairs toilet and protruding up above the gutter. Rats can easily climb up this pipe from inside. The pipe runs down into a manhole and gives rats access from the sewers onto your roof, from where it is not too difficult to get inside the roof to find nice warm insulation. It would not be long before the rats found their way down the cavity walls and into the kitchen where your food is stored. Holes around sink waste pipes can permit rats to get into your kitchen from the wall cavities.
CHECK YOUR DRAINS - See Rats in Drains section of this page.
If the rats have not found a way down into the house from the roof, then the use of rat poison is probably your best option to gain control, although a rat trap may also be a good idea for the most rapid control.
Using poison to kill rats in the home is usually rather risky in that, if a rat dies under a floor or in a wall, then the subsequent disgusting stench can make the home un-inhabitable for several weeks, so beware using rat poion if the rats have access into the living area from the roof.
If you decide to use poison, you need to ensure that, firstly, you place sufficient rat bait to ensure that it does not all get eaten the first night, although rats are naturally hesitant to feed immediately and may wait a few days before trusting this new food source.
In the first few days of using rat poison to control rats, you must check the baits regularly as a shortage of rat poion to eat could cause the rats to feed on other food sources and disrupt your poisoning programme. We suggest to always secure the poison if buying blocks or sachets, rats tend to store food, you will therefore lose control as you will think they have eaten it. The best way to do this is to nail the sachets or blocks to the joists.
Rats need to eat the poison regularly each day in order to ingest sufficient quantities of rat poison to cause death. We would suggest laying around 400gms in 4 different locations (100gms each location) and checking daily for the "take". If all of one bait station has been eaten then place 200gms at this point. Top up other rat bait to the 100gm level if they have been eaten in any amounts.
After 5 days of using the rat poison bait, check the roof carefully for any dead rats, these should be removed from the roof and disposed of either by bagging and placing in your domestic waste bin, or burying 500mm deep in the ground.
Continue baiting until no further bait is eaten for 7 days you can then collect up the bait and store for your next problem, or carefully wrap and place in your domestic wate bin. It is bad practice to leave rat poison in position after an infestation has been cleared as, new rats may arrive without your knowledge and could eat a sub lethal amount, this can be the start of resistance to the poisons building in the rat community.
Rats in the Garden
Information for Rats in the Garden
Having rats in your garden is quite common and nothing to be too concerned about.
If you live in the country it will probably be something you have encountered before, however, in urban areas, discovering rats in your garden can be a shock.
Usual sources are compost heaps, either yours or an adjacent neighbour's, and drains ( see DRAIN section)
There is no better way to dealing with rats outside than to use rat poison in a bait form. The important consideration is, where to place the bait and ensure it does not threaten non target animals, ie: the neighbour's cat.
The simple method is to place bait in a proper rat bait station, which is designed to allow rats in to feed but to prevent non target animals like hedgehogs and cats from accessing the rat bait.
If you neighbours also have pets, it would be advisable to inform them of your actions and to reassure them that you are using conventional rat bait stations in your treatment programme. Although trapping may be a consideration for outdoor control, you can very easily catch birds and other mammals and therefore we always suggest poisoned rat bait for outdoor control.
Rat throw bags are useful for outdoor use as you can throw these underneath a shed, where other animals are unlikely to venture.
When you see a rat in your garden, try to work out where it may have come from and investigate closely to see if there are burrows and runs, rat runs are evident by a beaten track where they continually travel to and from a food source or cover area. Nothing grows in this track because rats continually urinate and this will keep rat runs clear of vegetation and give the rats a scent to follow when travelling in the dark.
Place plastic rat bait stations adjacent to the rat runs or against fences and shed.
We like the Raco Pro Blocks The blocks are ideal as they mostly have a hole through the centre of the block so the block can then be slid onto a metal rod within the rat bait station, thus preventing rats from removing the blocks from the rat bait station. this means you will be able to see exactly what has been eaten.
When baiting for rats, it is important to maintain rat bait in the bait stations at all times, otherwise the rats may not consume sufficient rat bait to cause their demise. Check rat bait stations daily and refill continually for the first 7 days. After 7 days, activity by rats should reduce considerably and you may only need to check the rat bait every other day or so. Once the infestation has cleared, please remove the rat bait stations and the rat poison and store for possible future use.
Rats in the Drains
Information for Rats in the Drains
Drains are the source of many a rat infestation.
The image above is a rough plan of the drain that normally is the cause of rats escaping from the main sewer system into your home drain system.
The drawing shows a drain rod entering just above the drainage channel and although your drain may not appear exactly like this when you open the inspection chamber cover, the idea is that you know where to look for the all important RODDING EYE !
Houses constructed after 1955 are unlikely to have the infamous "Rodding Eye" so don't search for it if you own a young house!
You will find the Rodding Eye in the last manhole on you property, usually near the roadway and usually also having a small upstanding pipe nearby with a vented cap on it (usually square box like and in galvanised metal with a grid with Mica flap behind, on the front. This is the "Fresh Air Inlet" that vents your system to stop smells. The fresh air goes into the drain at this point and exits at roof level having picked up any bad odours which are then vented out at roof level via the "Foul Air Outlet" pipe, most commonly found exiting the roof just above an upstairs toilet/bathroom.
Now, these two pipes can be critical when dealing with rats. If the air vent grid on the Fresh Air Inlet pipe is broken, this will allow rats to both enter and exit your drain. Same goes with the Foul Air Outlet at roof level, however, this would more likely be an exit rather than entry point.
And, why are rats able to exit the drains in your garden/yard. Because rats are widespread in our sewerage system and the only point where they are prevented from entering your private drainage set up, is through the RODDING EYE or in modern drains, through the non return flap that is on the joint where your drain joins the public sewer.
Now, the Rodding Eye is a dry pipe just above the drainage channel in the last manhole on your property prior to the main public sewer (the main sewer is usually in the road outside your property).
The image on this section shows drain rods into the Rodding Eye. This may not look exactly the same in your drain but essentially, you will find the Rodding Eye in the wall of the chamber immediately above the channel, just at the point it runs toward the main sewer in the road. The Rodding Eye should have an earthenware cap on it. This is to stop foul smells coming into your system from the main sewer and also to give you an access point to rod any blockage that occurs between your system and the main sewer in the road. This RODDING EYE CAP, is like a teapot lid and sits lightly cemented into the top of the Rodding Eye. Only light cement is used so that the cap can be easily removed should rodding be needed.
Over time the cement softens more and any back pressure in the sewer can push the cap off. If the cap comes off it falls into the channel and can block the passage of your waste, eventually the waste water builds and begins running down the Rodding Eye instead of through its proper course. This may not be obvious when you lift your manhole/inspection cover but if there is more than 2 inches of waste water lying in the channel when you lift the cover, it is likely that the Rodding Eye Cap has blocked the pipe and you now have an open pipe to the main sewer. At this point, I will tell you that below the Rodding Eye is a "U" bend like in your home toilet, this stops rats coming into your drainage system but with the Rodding Eye Cap missing rats now have a direct route into your drains and any damaged pipes will allow them to escape either into your house or your garden.
THIS IS THE NUMBER ONE POINT OF ENTRY FOR SEWER RATS TO ACCESS YOUR PROPERTY.
If you find your Rodding Eye is not sealed, then seal with urgency, but remember that house built after 1955 will probably not have this system installed and these homes will rely on a small metal non return flap where your drainage pipe enters the main sewer in the road, and there is little you can do to repair that due to access difficulties.
If you have rats in your system on newer properties, the use of Non-Return Valves is your best rat prevention method. CLICK HERE FOR DRAIN REPAIR PRODUCTS
You may need to poison rats in the drains and we would suggest the use of Raco Pro Blocks for this purpose. They are less likely to go mouldy than loose rat bait.
If the benching is too angled to support the blocks, then you can either hang them on string from the top of the manhole or place a short board accross the benching and place/nail the rat blocks onto the board. Nailing will prevent the rats taking the blocks away and then you not knowing whether the rats have eaten the rat poison or not.