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How to get rid of rats

Rat infestations can cause significant damage to homes and can ruin reputations of commercial premises if not dealt with so knowing how to get rid of them is key.

As Winter months being to draw in these mammals look for the warmth of homes to survive and find food.

What does the brown rat look like?

brown rat

The brown rat usually weighs over half a kilo and measures about 23cm.

The brown rat is unsurprisingly a brownish red colour, a hefty individual with a thick body and a blunt nose.

Its ears are smaller and rounder than its black partner in crime, and it has a shorter tail.

Are rats dangerous?

Rats are not necessarily dangerous to humans but can spread disease directly by contaminating food with their urine or faeces, or by biting.

Humans can also get ill where rats run across counter top or other surface areas where food is prepared.

They can also transmit diseases such as Weil’s disease indirectly through fleas, which if infected, can transfer the disease to other animals or people.

What attracts rats to your home?

rat eating food off leftover dirty plate

As the Winter months draw in, Rats being warm blood mammals look for for the comfort of warm homes to survive.

They also enter homes in the hunt for food sources such as rubbish bins, leftovers, messy kitchens etc.

Rats also need a daily source of water and if they can’t find it outside they will look to come indoors. Homes sometimes have leaky pipes creating the ideal source for rodents.

Signs of a rat infestation

When rats invade your homes there are noticeable signs and distinct noises you will begin to notice.

Rats operate at night so they will be hard to spot during, however these signs are good indicators of an infestation.

  • Rat droppings – dark brown and ‘rice’ shaped
  • Scratching noises – usually heard in ceilings and attics
  • Rub marks – grease and dirt on their bodies leave behind marks
  • Gnaw marks – rats love to chew on wires and other surfaces
  • Rat holes – rats are well known to dig for shelter and food storage

How to get rid of rats in the house

rat in house

It’s important to get rid of rats in your home due to the damage they can cause and diseases they can carry.

If you are certain you have a rat infestation you have several options including block bait, grain bait, spring traps, electronic traps and more. Each option is best suited to each individual situation.

However, in general spring traps are good to place in high activity areas due to their instant killing mechanism.

Grain bait can be used in bait trays, block bait can be used in bait boxes and grain bait can be placed in harder to reach areas.

Remember, whenever baiting make sure you keep poison and traps well away from children, pets and non-target species.

To stop rats getting into your home we recommend proofing up common access areas. You can read more about rat proofing below.

How to get rid of rats in the garden

rat in garden

To get rid of rats in the garden you first need to try and identify particular areas of high activity.

Rats like to hide in shrubbery, bushes, under sheds and other concealed spots so check these areas first.

Once you have identified these areas you can start baiting with your preferred poison. We recommend using a rat bait station to protect non-target species and stop poison getting wet or blown away.

If rats are hiding under sheds and you can’t fit a bait box or trap underneath you can use grain bait sachets as these are much thinner. The rats will gnaw through the sachets and consume the poison.

When implementing measures to deal with rats in your garden make sure you do so carefully and away from children, pets and other animals.

How to get rid of rats in the roof

rat in roof

Getting rid of rats in the roof is more difficult than other areas of the home due to accessibility issues and other restrictions.

One way you can deal with rats in the roof is by knocking a nail through rat poison blocks onto roof beams where activity is high. This helps secure the poison and stops it being dragged away.

If you can safely reach the roof / attic you can place rat traps such as the Trapper T-Rex or the Snap E Rat Trap. These fast killing, spring loaded traps will kill rodents instantly.

Read more on how to get rid of roof rats.

How to get rid of rats in the attic / loft

rat in attic

The methods to getting rid of rats in your attic or loft is similar to dealing with rats in your roof.

You will usually notice you have rats in your attic when you hear scurrying noises in the roofs.

If you can reach the attic or loft we recommend placing rat traps and bait boxes in high activity areas.

If you can’t reach then sachets can be easier to place and are just as effective.

How to rat proof your home and prevent future infestations

block off entry point to prevent rats

Rat proofing is very important especially during Winter to prevent rats entering your home.

Below are some tips to follow to make your home as secure from rodents as possible.

  • Keep your home clean and tidy and store dry food in containers.
  • Regularly sanitise surfaces and clean areas where food has been prepared
  • Seal up any openings in walls or other cracks using caulk or steel wool. Cover bigger openings by using rodent mesh.
  • Seal off air bricks by using an air brick cover.

Read our full guide on how to rodent proof your home here.


  1. We have rats under our shed, They dart back & forth, across the quiet country lane we live on, from underneath a closed pub. We’ve moved the bird seed into the garage as they were chewing through the bin inside the shed. We’ve put a bait box inside the shed & under our hedge where the run is. Also we’ve put some poison down a hole which goes under the foundations of the pub. My question is ….. I realise this is a problem we can’t eradicate totally as they are breeding in an inaccessible place (pub foundations). I want to set up a routine whereby I know how often I should do something, in order to keep on top of this problem. Up until now we’ve put bait into the boxes & then forgot all about it. By the way …. we have 2 dogs

    1. Hi Jenny
      sounds like you are doing the right things already. If you are feeding birds this will always attract rats and mice and to stop can be a tough decision for some people. It is important that you check bait boxes on a regular basis (weekly) to top up the poison and to check that it is being taken. If the bait becomes damp and spoils the rats will not feed from it and it should be replaced. You say you have dogs so keep using the bait boxes to protect them from secondary poisoning.

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