5 Best and Proven Ways of Getting Rid of Rats: Is Repelling More Effective than Killing?

Do you want to know what is the most effective way of getting rid of rats: repelling, poisoning or electrocuting? Scientists say there are four effective methods of rat control: exclusion, habitat modification, trapping and poisoning. Trapping and poisoning provide control of an existing rat problem, when exclusion can provide long-term control. There is no single solution for rat problem. You can slowly but steadily poison rats, electrocute them or keep away from your house with the help of electronic ultrasonic repellent or natural repellent sprays. Which way suits you best?

There are many types of rats and their cousins, mice, but only two types of rats which could be distinguished by their appearance and habitat are people’s main enemies:

  • If you see large rats which gather in trash cans, hang around your house, settle in the kitchen, basement or in your car, then most likely these are brown rats (a.k.a. common rats, street rats, Norway rats, sewer rats or super rats). 

brown rat infestation

  • If smaller rats are seen running under the ceiling, in the attic, on the roof, then these likely are black rats (a.k.a. roof rats, ship rats or house rats). They are encountered less often than brown rats, but are just as irritating as they damage the wires and chew TV antennae. If these rats live outside, they damage crops. They are especially fond of cereals, citrus and other fruit; that’s why they are sometimes called the fruit rats.  Roof rat signs include smudge marks on surfaces from oil and dirt rubbing off their fur as they travel. Because of their propensity to climb, look for these smudges up high on structures, e.g. between rafters, as opposed to marks along walls near the floor which could be made by other rodent species. Because they are often living overhead, between floors or above false ceilings, there is less tendency to see signs of roof rat tracks, urine, and droppings.

black rat infestation

It is thus most likely that your house is infested with the most populous brown rats. They cannot be exterminated in one day, but if you use the most effective means of getting rid of them (which are the same for all types of rats) and try not to let them into your house, you’ll be able to clean your place.

How to define: a rat or a mouse?

  • Entry holes left in the walls or floors by mice are smaller in diameter than those of rats (1½ inches in diameter for mice, 2 inches or larger for rats). 
  • Mice and rats leave droppings along their runways, in feeding areas, and near shelter. Mouse droppings are usually about ¼ inch long, whereas those of rats typically are ¾ inch long. (USU)

Table of Contents:

5 Most Effective Ways of Getting Rid of Rats

According to the The University of Arizona effective methods of roof rat control include exclusion, habitat modification, trapping, and poison bait. The use of traps and/or poison baits can effectively provide control of an existing roof rat problem, but using the methods of exclusion can provide effective, long-term control by preventing roof rat infestation.

Here are 5 popular ways of getting rid of rats:

  1. Slowly but steadily poison rats with poisonous rat baits and hope that they will die far away from your house.
  2. Electrocute them. Resort to this full measure once you’re in despair and if you want to handle them without gloves, use electronic traps. They give a quick and 100% proven result.
  3. Keep rodents away from your house with the help of electronic ultrasonic repellents.
  4. Spray natural repellents along the perimeter.
  5. Plant some plants which rats are driven away by or use homemade and biological methods.

While practically all existing devices and chemicals against rats can be used outside, you have to be very careful with them in the house. That is why at first we will describe all of the existing means of combating them, and at the end of this article, we’ll pick the safest ones for indoor use.

Using Poison Rat Baits: Blocks and Granules

This is just what we’ve mentioned in the very beginning: poisonous baits cannot be left indoor near small children who can naively try and eat “the candy” lying on the floor. Most popular rat baits at the moment are Havoc, Tomcat, Farnam and several other brands’ products often used with special bait stations. When speaking about outdoor rat extermination, it is important to place the poison not randomly but right where you saw some rats.

How do these baits work? They attract rats and mice with a pleasant smell, and after a rodent has feasted on poison, it dies of internal hemorrhages or a kidney, liver, or heart failure (it depends on the type of poison). It would be best if it died somewhere outside, as consequently you will face the nasty dead rat smell, which will worsen unless you find and throw away a rat’s corpse. We recommend you to read our review of the 5 Вest Chemical Rat and Mouse Poison Baits where we list the best proven and most effective rat baits.

best poison rat baits

How to Catch a Rat: Electronic and Live-Catch Traps

Electronic rat traps are considered to be the most modern and effective traps nowadays. They electrocute a rodent when it touches a metal plate inside the trap: the rat’s death is not long and painful as it would’ve been if you used regular snap rodent traps, it is instant. The rodents are lured with food baits, such as nut paste, dog food, seeds etc. These traps are powered by the batteries, which allow them to be placed in the yard as well. Read our review of TOP 6 Best Electronic Rat Traps and Rat Zapper Classic vs Rat Zapper Ultra Rodent Trap to learn about most effective electronic traps.

the best electronic rat trap

While electronic units use the “trap & kill” principle, live-catch rat traps are not aimed at killing the animal. They are usually used against those animals that you’ll feel sorry for and which can’t be killed, such as raccoons or squirrels. Certain models are useful for catching rats as well. Obviously, the animal won’t voluntarily walk behind the metal bars, so you’ll have to use natural baits (the sort that are used in electronic traps). Later on, a rat won’t be able to get out of its cage. If you feel sorry even for such nasty rodents as rats, use Havahart X-Small Live-Catch One-Door Animal Trap, and set them free far away from your home.

How Do Electronic Repellents Help You to Get Rid of Rats Outside?

Electronic repellents repel rodents with ultrasound which cannot be heard by humans, and which makes rats panic and run as far away from its source as possible. These devices are quite effective if you’re looking for an alternative to killing rats with traps and poisons.

Ultrasound repellents differ according to the way they’re powered: through an outlet, with regular batteries or sun batteries. We won’t focus on the latter type, as solar powered repellents are usually used when getting rid of moles and gophers. They’re not really effective against rats. The other two types of repellents are designed for indoor use mostly, and there the effect is maximized. Nevertheless, they can be somehow useful against rats in your backyard given that you change the batteries often or find an extension cord to plug the repellent into an outlet. Also remember to consider protecting the gadget from water, as most of such devices are not waterproof.

The following two repellents have proven best for use both indoors and outdoors: Hoont™ Powerful Electronic Outdoor/Indoor Repeller and Yard Sentinel Repeller.

Hoont™ Powerful Electronic Outdoor/Indoor Animal & Pest Repeller - Motion Activated [New Version]

Hoont Electronic Indoor/Outdoor repeller

This device is a 3-in-1 unit, as it can repel the rodents with ultrasound, audio signal and with powerful flashing LED strobe lights flickering. The manufacturer claims that this product is effective against many animals, such as deer, birds, rabbits, rats, mice, squirrels and others. An incredibly high rating of 4.9 stars out of 5 makes us think that this device for ~$49.95 is truly effective. Read all of the customers’ feedback to understand whether you need to buy this repellent.

Yard Sentinel - Electronic Pest & Animal Repeller with Ac Adaptor & 30ft Extension Cord

Yard Sentinel Electronic Animal RepellerWe consider Yard Sentinel Repeller to be a universal outdoor repellent, as the users who were able to get rid not only of rats, but also of squirrels, raccoons, deer and even birds in their garden thanks to this ~$39.99 device leave positive feedback. Read about this repellent in more details in our Yard Sentinel Repeller Review and see for yourself whether it will do for liquidating your rat infestation.

How to Choose the Most Effective Natural Rat Repellents

Rats are not worthy of spraying dangerous chemicals around your lawn. This is probably only acceptable when fighting mosquitoes. In case of rats, you’ll do with organic repellents such as sprays and repellent bags, which are convenient to use and which won’t make you fear for the health of your kids and pets.

Fresh Cab Rodent Repellent (4 Pouch Box) Net Wt. 10 Ounce

These pouches for only ~$12.87 look like giant teabags which repel rats and mice through the plant fibers inside the pouch being naturally saturated with balsam fir oil and other oils. The product repels rodents both inside and outside the house. When using these outdoors, though, you have to change pouches more often and keep them away from moisture as the rain can wash away active substances.

Fresh Cab Rodent Repellent (4 Pouch Box)
Fresh Cab Rodent Repellent (4 Pouch Box)

Fresh Cab Rodent Repellent Pouches repels rats and mice through the plant fibers inside the pouch being naturally saturated with balsam fir oil and other oils. Use this all natural & non toxic repellent both indoors and outdoors.

Price:
$12.87

There is some negative feedback, but only 1% of consumers claimed that these pouches are useless when it comes to exterminating the rats. The rest recognize the effectiveness of the product. You can read their reviews on Amazon.com to verify this.

There exist lots of traditional animal infestation treatment methods, but once you start looking for a ready-to-use natural Animal Deterrent and Repellent Spray, you’ll find that no special products for repelling each individual species, such as rats, raccoons, squirrels, rabbits or other small animals/rodents are available. As a rule such items are marketed as universal ones and they contain multi-action active ingredients. 

More effective rat repellents you'll find in Best rat & mouse repellents review

How Do Repellents Work?

The scientists from University of Florida explain that “Most of these deterrents operate through one of several mechanisms: odor aversion, taste aversion, or fear inducement”. Pepper, peppermint, tarragon, garlic, various essential oils, castor oil, diatomaceous earth, and putrescent egg solids are considered to be the so-called contact plant origin repellents operate through the first and the second mechanisms. The third type of repellents contains the ingredients of animal origin, such animals' enemies urine (such as coyotes or foxes), dried blood and hair induce pests animals’ panic and make them flee, as confirmed by the University of Massachusetts Amherst specialists.

Yes, repellents look cool, especially for those who are lazy. We all wish for a miracle that once we buy a bottle of the product and spray it all over the place, all of the annoying pests leave for good and never come back. This is what usually the manufacturers of such repellents promise, they claim that the taste or the odor of a repellent will avert the pests and drive them away from any treated objects or plants. Is that really so? It is partly true, but there are several disclaimers to be taken into account.

Theoretically, any of the above mentioned ingredients is effective. However, without a systematic approach the effect doesn’t last long because the animal would get used to the stimulus and understand that it is not lethal.

Havahart, Shake Away, Eco Defense, Ortho, Bonide, Expel and others are the renowned brands manufacturing animal repellents. The ingredients of these products will likely differ, but their effect is pretty similar. The manufacturers constantly improve their products and constantly try to advance their effectiveness. We won’t recommend you any particular repellent as you can choose the suitable one by yourself in the Animal Repellents category on Amazon.com.

The prices for the Animal Repellents start from $12.

If you don’t want to rely on the short-term effect of the repellents, choose the methods of treatments which were approved by the scientists, such as poisons and traps.

The Best Homemade Natural Ways of Getting Rid of Rats

Rats can’t stand some of the plants which will serve as natural rat repellents if you plant them in your garden. Among these plants are peppermint, tansy, elderberry and other plants.

Many people also use peppermint oil as a means of fighting the rats. You are supposed to roll the cotton balls, soak them with this oil and leave them in your backyard. You’ll see the effect of this for yourself. Although the choice of these oils is truly immense, we recommend you to purchase the best one, such as Essentially KateS 100% Pure Peppermint Essential Oil for only ~$13.95. It’s a #1 Best Seller in Fragrance Collections, Candles & Home Scents category on Amazon.com.

peppermint oil repels rats

According to the National Institutes of Health, black (house) rats also can’t stand the smell of Eucalyptus Oil, so don’t spare this product and spread it generously in places where house rats have been spotted.

Bear in mind that cats are the main enemies of rats and mice. Of course, having a pet does not guarantee anything, but if it’s free to walk outside the house, then it’s likely to reduce the rat population to some extent, as cats are hunters by nature. Here is another homemade way of fighting rats which involves furry pets: use your cat’s urine as a natural repellent in the yard. This isn’t the most pleasant means of repelling rats, but it has proven to be quite effective due to the fact that rats are terrified by their enemies’ smell.

EXCLUSION: How to Prevent Rat Infestation: 5 Helpful Tips

Preventing a rat infestation in your backyard or garden is much simpler than getting rid of them and spending a lot money and energy on this pursuit. Bear in mind that rats love chaos, so:

1. Clean up the territory near the house more often. Don’t leave any trash, as both rats and raccoons can take advantage of it.

2. Watch the trees and bushes near your house, as rats are attracted by thick weaving and dry not groomed plants. If they make a nest there, they will most likely want to pay visits to your house in search of food.

3. Make sure there are no holes in walls or other manholes and openings. Any through-hole in the wall or the roof of the house or outbuildings is guaranteed to lead these rodents to your place, especially when it’s cold. Because roof rats are excellent climbers and can get through very small openings, try to seal all possible entry points. Use a metal net, such as Copper Mesh 20' Rats, Mice, Birds Control for ~$12.49 to cover all the existing holes and strengthen the “weak spots” such as old dog doors and window frames.

how to prevent rat infestation

4. Eliminate any sources of standing water in the yard: When brown rats can’t get into the house, they prefer a moist environment, like rivers. They can also settle somewhere by the stale water near your house. The thing is that rats are extremely dependant on water, and if the amount of liquid consumed by them is significantly reduced, they die. That’s why they need either water or moist nutrition.

5. If you feed your pets outside, don’t leave their food bowls there at night. Rats are especially active at that time and they won’t mind having some wet dog food. We don’t advise leaving any kind of food outside at night.

Rodentproofing. In considering rodentproofing, you must know that

  • Rats can climb the outside of vertical pipes up to 3 inches in diameter and any size if within 3 inches of a wall.
  • Rats can jump vertically 36 inches, horizontally 48 inches, and reach horizontally or vertically 15 inches.
  • Rats can jump 8 feet from a tree to a house if the branch is 15 feet above the roof. (Professor/extension entomologist Koehler and Kern, University of Florida)

How to Get Rid Of Rats in Your House

Let’s now choose the safest ways of getting rid of rats indoors. First, we have to say that you can use chemical substances at home, such as poison rat baits, but you have to do so with great caution if you have children or cats and dogs. If you haven’t got them, don’t be afraid of anything; you can contaminate the rodents in good conscience.  Here are some all-safe indoor use control methods:

Natural homemade control methods. You can use harmless natural control methods both outdoors and indoors, especially those which use such plants as peppermint, pepper, onion etc. Besides using organic products, remember that you can get a rat-catcher cat (remember that some lazy types such as Persian cats are never good at catching mice).

peppermint repels rats

Electronic repellents work best indoors, but there are two catches. First, it is desirable that the room where they are placed has as little furniture and as fewer carpets as possible, because they absorb ultrasound and thus reduce the effect of such repellents significantly. Second, you have to consider the area to be covered and study the repellents’ specs carefully, especially where a unitary coverage area is mentioned. This story cannot be cut short, so for more details refer to our Top 7 electronic indoor rodent repellents review.

Electronic traps which electrocute rodents are versatile when you have many rats at home and you want to exterminate all of them. It’s important to clean out the dead bodies in a timely manner, though, as the smell of decomposing corpses repels other rats as they would never get into a trap where somebody of their own lies. Also, change the batteries as often as possible, as this directly affects the trap’s productivity. The time-proven Rat Zapper Classic for ~$33.81 is #1 Best seller rat trap on Amazon.com. If you’re aiming for such a rat killer, make sure you get the best model.

best-ways-to-kill-rats