Got rats in your home? – here’s our guide to getting rid of ’em!

July 11th, 2012

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We’ve covered ants and cockroaches, now here’s your one-stop, everything-you-need-to-know, flat-out awesome how-to guide for getting rid of rats.

Ahhh, rats. Sneaky, cunning and the ultimate survivors. Slimy, stinky and disease-ridden. Sort of the lawyers of the animal kingdom.

And, of course, particularly drawn to places like kitchens and laundries. Not only do they offer warmth and food – but potential sources of shelter … including that offered by your larger appliances.

We’ll preface this guide with a warning: beware of easy solutions. You may need to attack them on several fronts, using several different methods.

You didn’t think they’d leave just like that, did you?

Find out where they get in and block up these access points

Ultimately, the surest method. Our one undisputed DIY solution. It’ll involve you systematically hunting through your house for a rat access point – thereby physically blocking them out of your home.  Suggestions for filling gaps include caulk, steel mesh or steel wool.

Also make sure to trim shrubs and tree branches away from your home – these are also ways rats will get into the upper levels of your house.

Remove food and shelter

Rats are the equivalent of that annoying flat-mate you had during uni. They’ll eat just about anything – and will devour all sorts of things which don’t belong to them. Run a check through your home for possible food sources. Compost piles, bird feeders and pet food bowls are some of the obvious ones.

Once you’ve done all that, it’s time to take care of the blighters that are already in your home …

Let’s run through some options:

Get a cat

Visit your RSPCA for this all-natural pestilence controller.  There are loads of kitties in need of a loving home and most of them are ferocious killers (see right). True, there will be some hard-to-reach places the puddy-tat won’t be able to get to. And although some say just the scent of a cat is likely to scare rats off the patch, we suspect a lot of rats are tougher than that.

… Incidentally …

One suggestion we’ve found on-line is that if you aren’t interested in getting a cat, borrowing the soiled kitty-litter of someone who does and scattering it about the place will be enough to ward of rats. Not only are we sceptical about the power of smell to get rats of your house, but it will involve asking someone for soiled kitty-litter. Get a cat.


Okay, so these are a little cruel, but they are environmentally friendly (well, apart from to the rat). You know the story – a bait, such as cheese or a sirloin steak in mushroom sauce with a side of chips and salad, is used to lure the unsuspecting rat into the trap which spring-snaps and squishes them. It is a bit nasty – and karma would have you pick up the rat’s corpse after the execution.

Pretty revolting and you’ll need to keep doing it repeatedly if you have an infestation. When handling the corpses, make sure to wear rubber or latex … uh, we mean on your hands.

… Aaaaand, this is where it starts getting a little controversial.

Electronic rat repellent

Billed as a safe and reliable way to get rid of rats … using a pulsing electromagnetic field. It attacks the auditory and nervous systems of rodents – and shouldn’t harm you. The standard device will plug into a wall. Manufacturers promise that it sounds like Justin Bieber to the discerning rat – and will soon have them scrambling for the exit. However, the jury is out on whether they actually work. Checking things out on-line reveals a split between those who think they do what they say on the side of the packet and those that say they are ineffectual. Results will vary…

All natural rat repellent

You will find a few of these options on the market. They can come in pellet form or spray and, as a rule, use odour to set up a bad vibe for the rat. Their effectiveness is contingent, so they say, on the extremely sensitive nature of the rat’s sense of smell. Can’t help thinking the rat is far too determined a species to be put off by something stinky, but we’ll be happily proved wrong.

Peppermint Oil

It’s said that rats despise the odour but is that enough to send them packing? Opinion is again divided. Those who advocate them recommend dunking cotton balls in pure peppermint oil. We don’t want to sound like a broken record – but we remain sceptical that smell-based chemical warfare will work in the face of a rat infestation.

… and what we wouldn’t recommend: Mothballs

Actually a popular anti-rat folk remedy. But be warned. Three things: mothballs are a known carcinogen (prolonged exposure can be linked to cancer in humans), they poison the environment, and … they probably won’t work.

If there are no tangible results, if the little blighters are still running up and down your walls (note, we are still talking about rats here, not your kids) … don’t prolong the agony: call in the professionals.

Aaaaaand, if that doesn’t work, it might be time to move house.

Feel free to let us know if you think we’ve missed anything.



Richie is a Sydney based writer with sophistication, flair and hair. Aside from blogging and writing for Appliances Online and Big Brown Box, he is also a new playwright who had his first play, ‘The Local’ performed last year at the Sydney Fringe Festival. He is also the wicketkeeper for the Gladstone Hotel Cricket Club and his favourite appliance is any 3D Blu-ray Home Theatre System that can be delivered to his house free-of-charge in the near future. He was the lead singer of Van Halen in 2002. Google+

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