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How to Control Rats [2019 Guide]

How to Control Rats

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How To Control Rats

Rats are one of the most successful species on the planet. They are found worldwide and are such a pest because they cause structural damage, spread disease and invade our space in search of food. The most common species in Europe are the Norway or Brown Rat, and the Black or Roof Rat, although the latter is restricted mainly to port areas. There are roughly twice the number of rats in Britain as there are people. They live alongside us and can transmit harmful diseases such as Weil’s Disease, Murine Typhus and Salmonella.

What types of rats exist in the UK and how do they behave?

There are two main species of rat that can be found in Britain. They are the Brown Rat, aka the Common Rat and the Black Rat, also known as the Roof Rat. The brown rat is the larger of the two rats, usually weighing over half a kilo and measuring 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.

On the other hand, the Black Rat weighs half as much and is much shorter. It is a dark grey in colour rather than black and has a thinner body and pointy nose. Although all rodents climb well, black rats are truly excellent at scaling walls thanks to extra pads and digits on their paws.

Rats are very clever creatures and they have developed many unique characteristics, which make controlling them slightly more difficult. All rats have developed a strong sense of smell and touch along with very acute hearing. They are sensitive to sudden loud noises and communicate amongst themselves using ultrasound.

All rats are fiercely suspicious of any change in their surroundings, so any control measures should take this into account. To catch a rat you need patience. The sudden appearance of bait boxes or traps, or a change in their arrangement will make rats very wary.

Rats need food, water and shelter and will inhabit any area of your home that provides this, such as your roof, wall cavities, under floorboards etc. It is essential to ensure sufficient rat proofing to prevent any infestation.

Why control rats?

Rats have a long history of being dirty creatures and this is certainly true. They carry diseases, which can spread to humans, they can inflict structural damage to homes and they can ruin commercial reputations. Certain conditions and locations can increase the chances of a rat infestation, if you discover this is the case then it is important to follow appropriate steps to control the rats.

What types of rat poison are available?

Block Baits

Block baits, as their name suggests are waxy cubes containing the active ingredient that will eradicate you rat problem. They are highly recommended because they are really easy to use, clean and easy to secure. Our rat poison block bait contains either 0.0025% difenacoum or brodifacoum.

Block bait is designed to be used within bait stations, making it easy to place. The baits are uniquely shaped, so that rats receive a lethal dose as quickly as possible, they are highly scented with a fragrance that is irresistible to rats and they have a central hole, so that the blocks can be secured to the metal rods that come with every bait station.

Baiting using block bait within a bait station is the most responsible way to bait, because it ensures that the poison is kept away from any non-target species and is better for the environment.  Also, the bait is securable, so it cannot be dragged away.  Block bait is available to buy in various pack sizes to suit whatever requirement you have.

Romax D Block Bait

Romax D Block Rat and Mouse Killer are poison bait blocks for amateur use against rats and mice. They contain 0.0025% w/w difenacoum and are designed to be contained within bait boxes

Ideal for

  • Indoor and Outdoor Use
  • Rat and Mouse Infestations
  • Bait Stations

Rentokil Rat & Mouse Weatherproof Blocks

Rentokil Rat and Mouse Weatherproof Blocks are a 'ready to use' rodenticide bait for amateur use, containing 0.0025% brodifacoum.

Ideal for

  • Indoor and Outdoor Use.
  • Rat and Mouse Infestations.
  • Bait Stations.
  • Sewers.
  • Environments that are particularly wet

Tips for baiting

  • Rats are shy of new things, so for maximum control, avoid tidying before baiting and once placed, avoid moving the bait boxes.
  • Use natural and familiar materials to protect the boxes, to encourage the rats inside.
  • Replace water damaged or contaminated bait every 2-3 days.

Loose Bait (grain)

Our loose bait comes in handy ready to use sachets so it is really easy to place. Containing 0.0025% Brodifacoum or bromadiolone sachets can be thrown into inaccessible places, where rats will readily chew through the packaging to get to the bait. If preferred, sachets can be opened and loose bait used in bait trays or bait boxes, but as this leads to a high scatter risk, it is imperative that there are no non-target species in the area.

Rodex 25 Whole Wheat Bait

Rodex 25 Whole Wheat Rat Poison comes in 150g sachets of whole wheat containing 0.0025% w/w bromadiolone. Each sachet contains enough poison to kill several rats.

Rentokil Rat Killer Grain Bait

Rentokil Rat Killer Grain Bait is a 'ready to use' rodenticide bait for amateur use, containing 0.0025% brodifacoum

Loose grain sachets are ideal for

  • Inaccessible Areas
  • Rat and Mouse Infestations
  • Bait Trays
  • Bait Boxes

Tips for baiting

  • Ensure that bait points are safe and there are no animals or children around who might consume the bait
  • Unless using the sachets in an inaccessible place, do not over-bait, as it is irresponsible and wasteful

Paste

Knockout Rat & Mouse Killer Paste

Knockout Rat and Mouse Killer Pasta is a non-professional use product for the eradication of rats and mice. It contains 0.0029% w/w Difenacoum and is designed to be secured inside a bait box. Each sachet contains a single 15g dose and has a fluorescent pigment within it, making rodent droppings visible under UV light, so easing the monitoring of rodent activity.

Knockout Rat and Mouse Killer pasta sachets can be used indoors or around buildings.  It is a nice clean option as it cannot be scattered like loose bait, and it’s less wasteful.  The sachets are easily pierced to skewer onto rods inside bait boxes.  The sachets are small, like a t-bag and they do a good job of maintaining the quality of the bait inside. Bait should still be checked every few days, and any damaged or contaminated sachets replaced with fresh.

Tips for baiting

  • Place the pasta bait, secure in a bait box, where rats are active, where there are droppings or inside burrows
  • Make sure the bait is always safe from non-target species, by using a box, or covering with drainage pipes, slates or boards.

What active ingredients are used in these poisons and are they safe?

Most rodenticides are either single-feed or multi-feed, synthetic, second-generation anti-coagulants. This means that they kill their target by preventing blood clotting. As such, they will not kill instantly, but will take a period of days, depending on the level of dilution of the poison by other foodstuffs. (A rodent eating 100% poison will die much faster than one whose diet comprises solely 20% poison). Where a poison is multi-feed, it is necessary for rodents to eat it at more than one sitting. Single-feed on the other hand, should be effective where the rodent eats it only once. A rat eats about 30g of food a day over about 10 meals, so 3g a meal. For a single feed poison to be effective, the lethal dose should be below 3g

The active ingredient is formulated on a food base, typically cereal, to produce a ready to use bait containing 0.005% w/w active ingredient.

Bromadiolone

Bromadiolone is a multi feed poison. When compared to other anticoagulant rodenticides, it has a good level of activity against the brown rat, and moderate levels of activity against mice. There are some pockets of resistance to this ingredient.

Bromadiolone is marginally more toxic to non-target 'farmyard' species than difenacoum. It is a potent poison to all mammal species and it is essential that all baits should be well protected from non-target animals. The best way to achieve this is by placing the baits in an approved bait box.

As with all anticoagulants, accidental poisoning with bromadiolone can be antidoted with vitamin K1

Difenacoum

Difenacoum is also a multi feed poison. It too, has a good level of efficacy against the brown rat, and mice. There are some pockets of resistance to this ingredient.

Due to the potency of difenacoum to rodents as compared to other non-target species, this active ingredient is particularly useful where domestic or farm animals are present in the area to be treated. This is a good active ingredient to use if you have pets. However, difenacoum is still a potent poison to all mammal species and it is essential that all baits should be well protected from non-target animals by placing the baits in an approved bait box.

Brodifacoum

Brodifacoum is a single feed poison. It is extremely toxic to all mammals and is legally only certified for indoor and professional use. This is a very aggressive single feed poison. It is 6 times more effective against rats than other active ingredients, and has no known resistance, but it is about 50 times more toxic to dogs. It should only be used when necessary and in very limited quantities.

What types of rat traps are available?

Snap E Rat Trap

With the Snap E Rat Trap, it's the end of the road for rats and other pesky rodents. The quick response time makes certain that once caught, the rat stays caught! Two pre-formed holes in the trap base allow for surface mounting. Your fingers never touch the rodent.

The Snap E Rate Trap has a very fast response time making sure once the rat is caught it stays caught! The trap features two pre-formed holes within the trap base so it can be mounted onto various surfaces to deal with any rat infestation. This rat killer trap is made from high quality materials making it much more durable than any other rat trap, it resists stains and odours which are common in old-fashioned wooden traps.

Features at a glance

  • Vertical Strike Bar travels half the distance of wooden rat traps for a much quicker response time and a quick, clean catch. Easy to set and easy to release after. Your fingers never touch the rodent.
  • Large Trip Paddle that reduces premature tripping and confines bait to the trap in all environments. reduces bait stealing and attracts rodent to the ideal strike bar location.
  • Polystyrene and Steel Construction
  •  A very durable trap, easy to clean and resists stains and odours.
  • Economical and reusable for many years.

Trapper T Rex Rat Trap

The Trapper T Rex Rat Trap gives superior trapping power. It combines trigger sensitivity with the exact trap velocity needed to capture and hold rats. The patented interlocking teeth make rat escapes virtually impossible. 

The Trapper T-Rex Rat Trap is the deadliest of all rat traps.  This trap combines trigger sensitivity with exact trap velocity to kill rats every time. It has patented interlocking teeth which makes rat escapes virtually impossible. 

With its ferocious grip, Trapper T Rex Rat Snap Trap gives superior trapping power for chemical-free accounts or special situations.

Trapper T Rex combines trigger sensitivity with the exact trap velocity needed to capture and hold rats. Its patented interlocking teeth make rat escapes virtually impossible. Safer to use than other rat snap traps, Trapper T Rex sets easily by foot or hand.

Its removable bait cup can be withdrawn, filled with an attractant and re-inserted without having the trap set.

Features at a glance

  • Very Powerful Trap.
  • Removable Bait Cup.
  • Sleek Plastic Design.
  • Wired Above Ground to Pipes or Rafters.
  • Place Alone or in Pairs Back to Back Along Rat Pathways.

Victor Electronic Rat Trap

Victor Electronic Rat Trap is extremely easy to use. Simply bait, place, turn on and empty. The trap is equipped with advanced smart circuit technology that senses when a rodent enters the trap. 

This Victor Electronic Rat Killer is a battery operated rat trap it is the perfect solution for non-toxic rat control. This highly effective humane rat trap can kill up to twelve rats on one set of batteries. When a rat has been caught a warning light will flash on the trap. This rat trap is ideal for semi-permanent siting to keep rats out of sensitive areas where poisons aren’t desired. It is recommended that this trap is used indoors only for the best outcome.

Features at a glance

  • Kills rats humanely and cleanly.
  • Kills rats through electric shock.
  • Designed for easy disposal of the dead rat.
  • A warning light flashes when a rat has been caught.

How can I rat proof my home?

The average home has around 12 access points for rats to enter. If you’re serious about keeping them out, check every vent, all the doors and windows, the roof, the plumbing drain stack, the return air chase on air conditioning units, power line entry points, the chimney, everywhere you can think of.

Rats only need a tiny (15mm) hole to get in. Look out for telltale signs: most obviously, holes, but also droppings, gnawing and grease marks that rats leave on frequently navigated routes. These things will help you identify entry points. Aside from general all round surveillance, a few places need particular attention:

The Roof

In an urban environment, rats love to be on roofs, indeed the common name for Rattus Rattus is Roof Rat.  They are so named because they spend 90% of their time off the ground. They spend time on roofs because they want to get into the loft, and because roofs can be one of the most neglected parts of a house, they will nearly always find a way in. 

Check any vents that are up there and cover them with a mouse mesh grill, and mend any damaged eaves. Holes in the eaves provide direct access to your loft. Where the chimney and roof meet, there will be gaps sealed with roof tar, tiles and sealants. Over time these weather and break down leaving the gaps exposed.
Some rats will enter via a disused chimney so make sure chimneys are capped. Rats are very skillful climbers, so even if you have no overhanging trees, do not be complacent. They need very little purchase to scale a wall. And remember, if you have a tiled roof that is suffering from wear and tear, you have a multitude of entry points.


If you have addressed any points of entry on your roof , but rats have definitely moved indoors you need to get rid of them as swiftly as possible.  The great thing about lofts is no one goes there, so you can bait to your heart’s content without having to worry about secondary poisoning and non-target species.
Rats love nothing more than chewing through the plastic insulation on wires and cables, causing costly damage for the householder.


Roban or Rodex Whole Wheat poison place packs would be ideal to throw into a loft space, especially if access is difficult.

The Cellar

If rats are roaming your garden, they are likely to be burrowing under your house. Again, find any points of entry and seal them up. You can happily do this before baiting the cellar because your first priority is to stop any more coming in. The same is true of cellars as of lofts.

It is very easy to deal with any infestation because you don’t have to worry about non-target species. As with the loft, it is easy to throw in a few sachets of grain, but if you prefer to secure the bait, place bait boxes with poison blocks or paste alongside cellar walls, or place traps.

The Garden

Look outside. Rats are burrowing animals so they will create a whole network of tunnels if they are living in your garden. Filling every hole could be a big job and won’t necessarily get rid of the problem.

The most time efficient thing to do is to put something down every potentially inhabited hole and check back after a few days to see which ones have been dislodged. These are the holes to target with poison, if it is certain the holes are deep enough to avoid the secondary poisoning of any protected wild animals or domestic cats. Whatever you put into the hole, make sure it can’t simply be dislodged if it gets windy! Look for those telltale signs around the holes.

If there are fresh droppings, there are active rats.  If you feel the burrows aren’t deep enough to be baited safely, secure the poison in a bait box and place them strategically where you know the rats are active. A trap can be placed in these boxes too.

Sealing Up Entry Points

When pest proofing and sealing entry points make sure you use metal where possible. Rats will chew through almost anything. Mesh air-brick covers, chicken wire sealed into holes, screws knocked into concrete are perfect.

You need to do a thorough job to keep out a determined rat. For large openings fill with chicken wire or steel wool and then complete the job with expanding foam to secure in position.

If you’re sealing around pipes, MouseStop Proofing Paste is a brilliant product.  It remains soft inside when gnawed at which rats don't like. It can be used around steel reinforcements too as a double barrier. Use a caulking product to effectively seal off the air-flow of an entry point. If rats smell an open cavity beyond a hole, they will be more inclined to chew their way in.

About Samantha Torrance

Samantha is the person that you will chat with on our "Live Chat" she has a wealth of knowledge on all of the the many household pests that our customers come up against and has a RSPH Certificate in Pest Management. After many years of dealing with your problems and experiences she has the answer to all your pest control questions..

 

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