Skip to Content
Rodent Control

Have a Rat in Your House? Here’s How to Catch It

You hear scuttling and little squeaks, and then you see it – a large, hairy rat has set up shop in your home. We won’t blame you if your first reaction is to immediately remedy the situation. It's ok, we've all been there. But to catch a rat and send it packing for good, you may need a complete rodent exclusion and trapping program

Below, we cover what you can do to handle a rat in your house, including how you can know when it’s time to call in the professionals.

Key Takeaways

  • Rats can be a danger to your health due to their ability to bite and gnaw. They can also ruin things around your house with their droppings and ability to produce offspring very quickly.
  • Rats are flexible and can squeeze through small entry points to sneak into your home, which is why it’s so important to find these entry points and close them. 
  • Rats are also attracted by food sources and shelter, especially when they’re looking to produce offspring.
  • Expedient pest control is essential for ensuring that your rat infestation doesn’t become a serious problem. 

How Common Are Rats in South Florida?

When you think of rats and rodent control, you might think of northern areas like New York City. However, rats are common just about everywhere throughout the United States, including South Florida. The warm and pleasant weather makes these creatures a problem for homeowners all year round.

Knowing how to get rid of rats is important for ensuring that your home remains free of these potentially dangerous critters. It’ll also give you a chance to relax, knowing that you won’t have to be on the lookout for gross, furry pests in your home anymore. 

But before you go all gung-ho on your rat elimination adventures, you first need to learn a few things about rats, such as identification, their source, and how to prevent them from coming into your home in the first place. 

What Kind of Rat Is in Your Home?

When you think of rats, a single type of animal might come to mind. But the reality is that there are many types of rats. The most common rats in South Florida are wood rats and Norway rats, though you may also encounter the common brown rat and black rat. 

All of these creatures look relatively similar, though they primarily differ in the color of their fur, which ranges from medium brown to dark brown or black. Most Florida rats are not particularly large, though they can still cause many problems, such as disease. Rats commonly carry dangerous diseases such as hantavirus and leptospirosis.

Signs of Rat Infestations in West Palm Beach

How can you tell if a rat infestation is brewing in your home? Rats commonly leave clues that can give them – and their hiding spots – away. Keep your eyes and ears peeled for these common signs of a rat infestation to get ahead of the problem.

Sounds and Smells

If you think you might have a rat problem in your home, pay more attention to sounds and smells around the house. Rat droppings have a pungent smell, and rats commonly make squeaking noises that can be heard through walls and cupboards. 


One of the most common signs of a rat in terms of damage is gnawing. Rats may gnaw through electrical wires, fabrics, and sometimes even walls and hard objects. Look for damaged furniture, electronics, and other signs that rats might be living nearby.


Rat footprints are easily identifiable by how small they are. Finding footprints is a good sign because it means you will likely be able to more easily locate the rats plaguing your home. 

Rat Droppings

Rat feces are a more obvious sign that rats are hanging out in your home. Rat droppings typically are small, shiny, and black, usually less than an inch long, and slightly larger than mouse droppings. The end of each dropping may be pointed. 


“Smears” are dark markings that rats may leave on surfaces they frequent, such as walls and floors they rub up against. These smears occur when dirt and oil on the rat’s fur rub off on various surfaces and create a dirty mark. 


Finding a rat nest is like hitting the jackpot. The nest is the source of your rats, and destroying it will ensure that your rat problem will not continue to plague you. However, these nests can be hard to find, especially if they’re built into a wall or other tight place.

What to Know About Rat Traps

Once you know what rats you might be dealing with and have some idea of where they’re living, it’s time to put rat traps into action. Rat traps can help you effectively cut back on how many rats are in your home before they breed and begin to take over.

Choosing the Right Rat Trap

There are many rat traps you can choose from, and some are more humane (and effective) than others. Picking the right one is important for achieving your rat elimination goals. Let’s take a look.

Rat Trap Placement

Regardless of the type of trap you choose, place it along a wall since rats prefer to move along corners. If you have an idea of where your rats travel due to their footprints or droppings, leave the trap in that high-traffic area. If you find any cracks or holes along the walls or floors, put traps near those potential entry sites as well. 

“Safe” Traps

Safe traps are those that do not kill rats, so they don’t use rodenticides or physical harm. This is ideal for those who don’t want to deal with dead rats. Safe traps are as easy to DIY as any other trap, and you don’t have to worry about feeling guilty for killing an animal. 

Consider the Bait

Setting up a bait station to attract rats to the trap is essential. You can use almost any type of food, such as dried fruit, cheese, and so on. You can even use pet food to attract the pests.

Just make sure the food is perfectly placed on the trap so that the rat will be caught once it activates the trap. The best bait may also differ depending on the rat you’re dealing with. 

  • Norway Rats: These rats prefer grain and meat more than anything. 
  • Roof Rats: These rats love dried fruits and nuts, though they’ll also be attracted to peanut butter and bugs.

Using the wrong bait may make it difficult to catch whatever rat happens to be in your house. If you can’t figure out what type of rat has made itself at home in your house, it may be better to call a pest control company for help.

Rat Bait Caution

To make sure you use bait properly and don’t end up losing it to a tricky rat, follow these essential tips. 1. Never use bait indoors.

Using bait indoors can quickly backfire. It may attract more rats along with other pests, and you might end up in a worse state than before. Using bait is best if you’re trying to trap rats outside, such as near your garbage cans.  2. Be mindful of pets and children.

Remember that some traps can be physically harmful to pets and children, especially snap traps and electrical traps. Snap traps can break a young child’s finger or injure a curious dog’s nose. Even glue traps can be dangerous since they feature such a strong and sticky type of glue that is very difficult to remove. 

Preventing Rats from Entering Your Home

With existing rats trapped or on their way out, you can shift your attention to preventing new pests from showing up. To do that, you’ll need to ensure rats can’t get in and that if they do, they won’t want to stick around.

Seal Openings

Rats can easily squeeze through tight spaces, so be sure to seal any cracks and holes leading into your house. This can prevent rodent infestations in the future and may even keep insects at bay as well. Seal the drywall with caulk or another strong sealant.

Use Dry Ice

Dry ice is an effective way of killing several rats at once. If you’ve found a rat nest, place dry ice near it. The carbon dioxide released from the melting ice will suffocate the rats, so they die painlessly.

Clean and Remove Clutter

Here’s a pest management 101 tip for you: rats love cluttered spaces. If you have a lot of clutter in your home, it’s a rat’s paradise. Cleaning up and organizing your home is a great way to clear out any rats and prevent the rat populations from rising. Cleaning is also one of the easiest methods of rat control. 

Natural Rat Deterrents

You can use natural ingredients you may already have lying around the house to deter rats from joining the party. Their smells and effects can effectively send rats packing before they settle into your home.

  • Peppermint Oil: If you don’t want to use typical rat repellants to destroy rodent activity, consider natural alternatives like peppermint oil. Rats hate the smell of this oil because it’s so strong and sharp. Sprinkling a bit of this oil around your house, especially the corners, is a great way to get rid of these critters or prevent them from coming in the first place. 
  • Cayenne Pepper: Once you see the first signs of a rat, sprinkle this pepper along common rat pathways or nests. Its spiciness will hurt their sense of smell badly enough that they will retreat and hopefully never return. 
  • Black Pepper: Black pepper works similarly to cayenne pepper. Just make sure you sprinkle the pepper in the right locations to rodent-proof your home. Sprinkling it on nesting materials or a rodent’s food source, such as dog food, can also be effective. 
  • Cloves: Cloves have a very intense smell, especially to a rat’s sensitive nose. They’ll want to stay clear of anything that smells like cloves. Put whole or crushed cloves around entry points, nests, and walkways. 
  • Crushed Red Pepper: Here is another strong and spicy pepper that will keep rats from making your house their home. As mentioned before, sprinkle this pepper in prime areas that receive a lot of rodent traffic.

When to Call Professional Pest Control Services

Following these tips and tricks should make it easy to do away with your rodent problem. But sometimes, rat problems don’t respond to DIY solutions. Your rat infestation may be deeper than you realize, or you might not be able to fully eliminate all of the ways rats can enter and hide in your home. 

Whatever the case may be, if you’re unable to manage your rat problem alone, it’s time to call a professional pest control company. Here at Native Pest Management, We offer many pest management options and can eliminate your rat problem in no time. Give us a call to learn more and get started.