How To Get Rid Of Rats


If there is one word guaranteed to send shivers down even the bravest of spines, it is ‘rats’! Warm-blooded rodents that are literally everywhere in the world, they seem to have survived all natural and man-made catastrophes known to man.

Thankfully, we rarely see them as they do not seek our company any more than we seek theirs but, due to a combination of weather and opportunity, rats can become an infestation quickly – and when you start to see them in your garden, garage, home, roof or outbuilding you simply must call for professional pest control help.

The problem with rats…
They chew and gnaw just about anything

With two massive front teeth, a rat can just about chew through most things, from soft furnishings to wood, cables and cardboard. This as you can imagine is a nuisance, as well as dangerous in some cases; a rat chewing through junk stored in a garage is one thing, chewing through electrical cables in the loft, is quite another.

They are prolific breeders, reproducing at an astonishing rate. Reaching sexual maturity at 5 weeks, the female rat has a 3 week gestation period, producing up to 5 litters a year. Commonly, each litter will have around 7 ‘baby’ rats, although a single rat can have up to 14 in one litter.

With a 3 year life span, it seems rats are lucky if they reach this ripe old age in rat years. Predators, fights with other rats and the pest control expert all contribute to a 95% mortality rate.

Despite these figures, the rat population is still thought to be fairly high, with estimates ranging from 10.5 million rats in the UK, to 81 million!

Rats also present significant health risks

Rats in, on or around your property need to be dealt with quickly and effectively to minimise the likelihood of you or your family becoming ill;

  • Weil’s disease – also known as mud fever, swamp fever, sewerman’s flu – is the commonly associated with rats and can present acute danger to human health. A bacterial infection, it is part of the Leptospirosis ‘family’, with many suffering from mild cases each year. Entering the body through cuts and scrapes, humans on coming in to contact with infected rat urine, for example, and can develop into the life-threatening illness known as Weil’s Disease. Thus kills 2 to 3 people per year here in Britain and can take 3 days to 3 weeks to incubate in the human body. Headaches, high temperature, tiredness and nausea are common symptoms, accompanied by a rash and hallucinations in some cases.
  • Salmonella – rats can also carry this bacterial infection, commonly associated with many other animals too from chicken through to frogs. Again, this can be a debilitating illness and can be avoided by washing hands thoroughly after handling animals, including pets. But, if you rats around your property, it pays to get rid of them.
  • Tuberculosis (TB) – often linked with the badger debate and cows, scientists have now confirmed that TB is endemic throughout wildlife, and rats are also responsible for spreading the disease.
  • E.Coli – there are many strains, some of which live naturally in the gut however, the strain that rats carry can cause severe abdominal pain; again, this illness can be life-changing, of not fatal in a large enough dose
  • Cryptosporidiosis – is caused by microscopic parasites in the faeces of rats; again having your home, garden, outbuildings etc. rat-free is only part of the solution. A thorough clean, whilst wearing protective gloves and mask is essential to eliminate possible sources of diseases carried and transmitted by rats
  • ‘Foot and mouth’ disease – recent in-depth work by scientists have discovered that rats spread this disease and so, with the effects of the last major outbreak still being felt across the British farming industry, it is imperative that rats are kept under control as tightly as possible
  • Hanatvirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS) – is common in rats across the United States and Asia, but in 2013, scientists confirmed that a male patient was suffering from Hantavirus in Yorkshire. At some point he must have been bitten, scratched or come in to contact with an infected rat – thought to have arrived in the UK on cargo ships from Asia and beyond. However, this appears to have been a one-off incident but shows that quick thinking, effective methods of pest control contained any further ‘outbreaks’.

How to get rid of rats

Although prevention is always better (and cheaper!) than cure, every now and then the rat population around your home or business can become so large that they are pushed from their natural habitats, seeking refuge and food in our properties or gardens.

Catching sight of a rat is a sure sign you have a rat ‘problem’ that needs to be dealt with; a professional pest control expert can deal with this quickly, effectively and discreetly, as well as giving you some advice on preventing future problems.

Rats can make their homes anywhere

How to get rid of rats in the house

Thankfully, rats making their homes in occupied houses or buildings is rare, but empty homes or businesses are a different matter! As prolific gnawers of just about anything, one rat over a period of time can cause a lot of damage; imagine the damage several rats could cause in only a few days!

A professional pest controller will not only have the know-how and inside knowledge of how rats move around, along with their habits, but they also have far more methods and ‘treatments’ at their disposal than what is available to the consumer, over-the-counter.

Rats, for example, skirt around the edge of a room and will soon detect if something new is in the area, thus avoiding capture! In this scenario, trapping or poisoning rats is a marathon, not a sprint.

Once the rat problem has been eliminated, it is important that measures are taken to stop rats from re-entering the building. This is best described as “rat proofing” and can be carried out by a professional pest controller.

How to get rid of rats in the attic

If you discover rats in the attic, then without hesitation you must phone a professional pest control expert. With important electrical wiring in the attic, it is too much of a risk to allow these creatures to carry on gnawing and nesting in the attic or roof space.

Again, the pest controller can quickly and effectively get rid of a rat problem, but there is much work left to do to make sure that all damage is spotted and repaired. Rats are not clean rodents, and their urine carries a bacteria which, if ingested by humans, can cause an unpleasant illness.

If the attic is used for storage, it may be that some of this will need to be removed and destroyed; electrical wires will need to be repaired along with any beams or trusses the rats may have gnawed at for nesting material. And, just like with rats in other parts of the buildings, you need to identify how the rats got in there in the first place … and then block it!

How to get rid of rats in walls

A common place for rats to live are in the small cavities within the walls of a property; in fact, many homeowners call pest controllers complaining they can hear scrabbling or scratching, assuming they have mice but can find no evidence.

Rats find their way in to wall cavities just by chancing upon a grill or ventilation point common to many house across the UK. This can lead into the wall cavity which is not filled and can be a rat ‘highway’, a generous space with wiring and structure they can grip onto and run around the building, undetected and, to a certain extent, at little risk of being captured.

Removing rats from walls is not something to be attempted by an amateur, as enthusiastic as you may be to rid yourselves of the rat problem. Small sections of the wall will need to be removed, with poison and traps laid in certain areas etc. Like the attic or roof space, ridding walls of rats can take some time, but all possibly entry points need to be sealed too, something a pest controller can do.

How to get rid of rats in the garden

To a certain extent, a rat being outdoors is the place that you would rather see them – if you had a choice – but, rats in the garden can present a problem, especially if they are in large numbers. Not only do you NOT want to see or look at them, or share your garden with them, they present a significant health hazard to you and your family.

Rats like our gardens for many reasons;

  • The increase in compost bins is a great source of food for rats
  • Likewise, the increase in urban households keeping chickens are also a great source of food
  • Disused drains near or underneath gardens are a great way for rats to move around unhindered
  • Rubbish bins, pet food etc. are also attractive to rats

However, if you plan on attempting to deal with rats in the garden yourself, you need to be aware of all the neighbouring domestic animals, wildlife as well as your own pets and children as rat poison is poisonous to everything, not just rats! Please do not leave poison in your garden exposed for other pets and animals to eat!

If you think you have a rat infestation in the garden, then calling a professional pest controller is the safest & more affordable move.

How to get rid of rats naturally

There are many ways and methods to get rid of rats; there are many products that you can buy over-the-counter too, with some more effective than others…

  • Invest in a rat’s natural predator, a cat – cats are great for staking claim to their territory and making sure rats and other rodents are not welcome visitors. This is a preventative method, however that will not suit all!
  • Making your home and garden less rat-friendly is also a preventative measure that works – seal compost bins and rubbish bins; do not feed the birds by throwing scraps on the lawn (use bird feeders); if you feed your animals outside, remove any uneaten food immediately. Check outbuildings regularly for rat damage and if you see anything that could indicate rats, call in a professional pest controller
  • Pest controllers deal in humane methods of rat extermination and control, as well as in the safe use of bait and poisons; they can also identify what could be encouraging rats into the home, garden or building, as well as installing other preventative measures to stop rat infestations.

In summary

Rats are everywhere but, can be more common in some areas than others; this does not mean, however, that we have to share our homes, gardens, attics or outbuildings with them!

If you see hear rats in your walls or loft, or see rats in your garden or outbuildings then the safest, quickest and most affordable solution is to call SOS Pest Control for friendly, expert advice and free quotations for all works proposed.