Rats and How to Live Without Them

You’re awakened in the night by a persistent sound of gnawing, chewing, scratching, or scurrying.  It’s unnerving when you realize there are wild animals living in your home (I mean other than the children).

And the problem is not just that they disturb your sleep – there are genuine health concerns.  Rodents are bearers of plague, hantavirus, salmonella, and other diseases.  Their urine and fecal matter can contaminate food and water supplies.  Rodents can also damage wires, pipes, sheetrock, and even structural elements of your home.

But fear not.  There are ways to evict these unwanted tenants.

First order of business is to eradicate the existing population.  If rats are in the attic, substructure, garage, or other parts of your home, trap lines should be set in the places where they travel and nest.  These traps can be baited with nuts, dried fruit, peanut butter, or other such tasty snacks.

Oh, don’t forget to check the traps, dispose of the bodies, and re-set the traps.  I know it’s not pleasant, but it must be done.

Try to avoid the urge to use poison bait.  You may get lucky and the rats will get sick, go outside, and die.  About half the time, however, they will die inside, creating odors, attracting flies and hide beetles, and generally make your life more uncomfortable than when they were alive and well.  Additionally, the rats that were kind enough to go outside may be eaten by domestic pets or woodland critters which can make them sick or even lead to their death.

Next, locate how the rats are getting into your home and seal these areas.  Check for gaps under doors and where wires and pipes enter the home.  Repair any compromised foundation or attic vents and inspect the roof junctures for holes into the attic space.  This step, called exclusion, should be done immediately after setting the trap lines.  It stresses the rat’s environment and increases acceptance of the traps.  If the trap-set and exclusion are done correctly, the entire infestation can be eliminated in 3 weeks or less.

Now you’re almost done.  The only thing left to do are nearly intuitive.  Trim foliage away from the house, cover the trash cans, and don’t leave the pet food out at night.

So, there you have it.  Following these steps should allow you to reclaim mastery of your abode, or at least to enjoy a good night’s sleep.

Sweet Dreams!