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Found a rat in your house? Here’s how to get rid of it

It’s the middle of the night, and you’re sound asleep. A noise jolts you awake, and you hear the pitter-patter of tiny, scurrying feet. A quick, anxious inspection of your space reveals a pile of droppings under your bed. You have rats living just feet away from where you sleep.

It’s a frightening thing to wake up to, and an unsettling thing to think about. But it happens to homeowners each and every day. Luckily, getting rid of rats is easier than you might think.

Here are a few DIY pest control tips to help you get rid of that unwanted critter in your house — quick and easy.

According to the pros at DIY Pest Control, the first step of rat control can be broken down into three parts — inspection, sanitation and exclusion.

Norway rats, a common household pest across the U.S., will often burrow beneath your home’s foundation and can consequently be found in basements, crawl spaces and other low-reaching areas of the house. Mice, on the other hand, more often nest in rooms, behind major kitchen appliances and even inside furniture.

From room to room, give your home a full inspection to narrow down where the pests are active within your home. Look for signs of droppings, the smell of ammonia, the sound of scurrying within your walls and any visible damage to your property.

Next, it’s time to seal off any entry points that could be giving the pests access to your home.

“Exclusion is an important rodent control technique,” DIY Pest Control reported. “It will eliminate the rats by making it difficult for them to enter the home or structure. Rats are easier to exclude than mice because rats are typically larger. Mice can enter an opening as small as 3/8-inch wide. All openings greater than 1/4 inch should be sealed to exclude mice. For rats, all openings greater than 1/2 inches should be sealed.”

For a quick (but temporary) fix, block any open space where rats may be traveling with steel wool.

Finally, sanitize your living space. Even a clean home can attract rats and mice, but giving your home a good spring cleaning will help suppress any lingering odors that may be attracting the pests.

Once your home has been inspected, cleaned and fortified, the next step is baiting and trapping. This process requires patience and a little know-how, but it can be done.

“Rats (especially roof rats) are wary of new objects, new foods, or environmental changes,” DIY Pest Control reported. “They are always exploring surroundings and notice changes, and are suspicious by nature. Their suspicious nature is why traps and bait stations may be avoided for a day or two. They approach new food or objects with caution. Within a rat colony, they may be a few extra cautious rats that manage to avoid traps or eating rodent baits.”

According to Smith’s Pest Management, the belief that rats should be baiting exclusively with food is a misconception.

“When we put out rat traps baited with food, they’re not very appealing to rats,” the pest control company reported. “While the myth is that putting a trap with peanut butter on it will attract a rat, that usually doesn’t work. The rats often enter trap boxes and bait stations because they like the cozy shelter. In our experience, you need to understand two things if you want to control rats effectively: They are curious, and they are cautious.”

For a rat trap to work, it needs to be baited with the scent of other rats, needs to give off the appearance of cozy shelter and needs to be placed somewhere near where they are already active. Once placed, a rat trap could take days, or even weeks, to be successful.

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