How to Catch a Rat in the House
February 23, 2022
Rat in your house? It's ok, we've all been there. When I was a child growing up in West Palm Beach, FL, my family had four outdoor cats. I specifically remember opening my bedroom door one morning and a rat was laying there in front of me.
I asked my mom, "why is there a dead rat in our house?" She told me that's why we have outdoor cats. So for those of us that are Florida natives, we can relate and most of us unfortunately grew up with cats and rats.
Now that I own a pest control company, I know that while cats can certainly catch rats in the area, they will certainly not be enough to stop rats from getting in your house. Fortunately, after years of studying rats (what did that childhood experience do to me??) I know what it takes to remove rats completely from area homes and how to keep them out, guaranteed.
I shared the knowledge I learned from the entomologists at the University of Florida with my team of technicians at Native Pest Management. I teach them that cats don't stop rats, bait thrown into the attic doesn't stop rats, rats don't leave the house when they eat bait to drink water, etc. While these myths are good at making some of us think we're in the clear when it comes to rats in our house, they do little to solve the real problem.
If you truly want to have the peace of mind that rats and mice won't be in or around your South Florida home, you need a complete rodent exclusion and trapping program. This involves trained technicians sealing the entry points in and around your home, including plumbing vents on the roof, soffit vents, the AC chase, and any other entry points 1/4 inch or larger. Call us today if you'd like to set up a free rodent control inspection and we'd be glad to help you out.
Now let's get on to the business of rats in homes!
South Florida is no stranger to the occasional rat. Recent reports indicate four separate South Florida cities have some of the highest rat populations in the nation.
For home and business owners, the thought of having these creatures scurrying about is unnerving or concerning. This is for good reason as there are very real health concerns with rodents.
Rats are historic carriers of disease and have earned a reputation as unclean animals. Rats and mice can reproduce rapidly and an infestation unnoticed or undetected can grow quickly.
Left long enough, rats can reach massive numbers. In extreme instances, rat infestations can even threaten the structural integrity of a home and the health of those in it.
Dealing with a rat problem isn’t always straightforward, however. There are numerous methods for trapping rats and some of them offer more advantages than others.
Similarly, some of them are more intensive measures than others. If the problem has advanced far enough, it is likely that traps will no longer be an adequate solution. In these instances, a pest control company like Native Pest Management is often required.
Below, we have made a guide for those with a less intense problem. If you are trying to figure out how to trap rats in your West Palm Beach, FL home, we've got you covered below:
Signs of Rat Infestations
The early detection of rat problems makes the issue of pest control much easier. Rat populations can grow quickly and early intervention is a key element of rodent control. Below are some of the common signs that you're dealing with roof rat infestations.
- Sounds and Smells – Rats and mice are often loud and give off an ammonia smell. Common sounds you may hear include scratching, squeaking, and rustling. This may come from the walls or other enclosed areas like closets and cabinets.
- Damage – Rats will chew just about anything they can get their mouth around. You may find chewed or frayed electrical cords, paper, storage containers, or left-out food. Their urine and droppings, left unchecked, can also cause lasting damage to the home.
- Footprints – Locate an unpopular area of your home that you haven’t dusted lately. If a rat has traveled there, it will have left feet and tail marks in its wake.
- Rat Droppings – Look for small, pellet-like droppings left by the rats. Sometimes, these are along their routes of travel but they may also pile up in secluded areas. Check behind the oven and fridge along with other secluded areas for piles of droppings.
- Smears – Rats have poor eyesight so they usually follow set patterns along the walls. As they travel, they may leave smudges of grease along the walls, indicating their presence.
- Nests – In extreme instances, infestations can lead to nesting rats. This frequently takes place in the walls or attic, using insulation and other materials.
Any of these signs indicate the need for pest management measures. Don’t let your rodent problem go untreated or else it will get far worse and require harsher measures
Trapping rats is a common method for homeowners to get rid of rats on their own. While the concept of trapping rodents seems simple, there are several considerations to take into account before you set rat or mouse traps.
Choosing the Right Trap
There are a few different types of mouse traps to choose from. The four most common options are:
- Glue Traps – Sticky traps lure mice in with something like a roasted peanut and then trap them in a strong adhesive. Because these don’t actually kill the rats right away, these are not typically recommended. As the humane society points out, rodents can be stuck for up to 24 hours before succumbing to exhaustion and falling face down in the glue.
- Snap Traps – The traditional form of mouse traps like you would see on any cartoon. These involve a bait station that, when pressed, releases a spring-loaded bar that kills rats. While these are often a great form of rat trapping, they don’t always kill the rodent, leaving them injured. They can also occasionally be messy.
- Electric Traps – These traps lure rats in and shock them with a high voltage of electricity. These are often thought the most humane and effective options if you are killing the animal.
- Live-Trapping – These involve methods of catching the mouse alive and confined but not harmed. This allows the transportation of the rodent far away for natural release.
While rodent traps are often easy to set, they do mean you'll have to deal with dead rats most of the time. Furthermore, you must be careful that the traps will not harm your children and pets.
In general, if the issue has not progressed to high levels, live-trapping is generally thought of as the best option. When the pest problem grows, you will likely need more intense methods to respond to it.
Consider Rat Trap Placement
The location in which you set the traps helps determine the success you will have with them. Start by setting traps with the bait facing the wall to capture mice as they walk along the baseboards. Add more traps in areas you have noticed activity or suspect the possibility of it.
If the problem is still small, there is no need to set too many traps at once. Add more traps depending on the severity of the issue.
Place “Safe Traps”
While rats are far from genius, they are very cautious. A new obstacle in their path might be cause for concern and they may avoid or test it. Build their trust in the traps by offering them bait without actually killing them.
After a couple of days, load the trap and activate it for a higher success rate.
Consider the Bait
There is a big difference between Norway rats, brown rats, roof rats, and other rodents. Depending on the mouse, it may require a different bait. Some mice have an attraction to cheeses, others to peanut butter, roasted peanuts, etc. Determine the type of rat that is in your home and do some research on the best bait to use.
Never use bait indoors! It will kill some of the rats, but they will likely die in inaccessible areas and smell horribly for weeks. If placed outdoors, make sure to use professional rodent bait stations so that the bait is inaccessible to birds, dogs, cats, children and any other animals in the area.
While trapping rats is great, it’s far better to prevent the problem altogether. Rats are an invasive species so there are times when you can do everything right and still experience a problem with them. Still, some natural solutions exist to help prevent the issue of rodents before it becomes one.
Rodents can travel through very small openings and cracks in your home. Take a moment to survey around your home, on the roof, and elsewhere. Anywhere that you may find a hole can be a potential entry point for rodents. Seal them to help keep rodents from finding a way inside in the first place.
Dry ice is a solidified form of carbon dioxide. As that ice melts, it releases into the air. For most, this is non-toxic and quite harmless when utilized in open areas.
In confined environments, however, it can elevate carbon dioxide levels in the bloodstream and lead to death. This makes dry ice a mostly harmless tool for controlling rodent populations.
This method is specifically useful when you have identified burrows and nests of rats and can seal them off entirely. Doing so forces the rats to breathe the carbon dioxide in faster.
Always wear gloves and handle dry ice with caution. Never place dry ice in a tightly sealed container or mix it with liquid of any kind. Never consume dry ice.
Clean and Remove Clutter
Rats love clutter and feeding on food that you may have left out. One of the biggest preventative measures that you can take against mice is maintaining a clean environment.
A clean house has nothing attracting mice to it. Mice need food, water, and shelter like any other animal. Cutting off their access to food and water makes the shelter uninhabitable.
Natural Rat Deterrents
There are many natural solutions for deterring rats and mice as well. Some of the top choices for accomplishing this are:
- Peppermint oil
- Cayenne pepper
- Black pepper
- Crushed red pepper
Apply these heavily to the area around the home’s exterior to discourage rats from entering ever entering your home, to begin with. The potent odors of these repel mice and other rodents away from your home.
Follow the line between your home's foundation and the ground and repeat the process periodically. In cases of small infestations, these methods can help push the rats back out of your home as well. Place these outsides where the rats are primarily located to repel small infestations.
Professional Rodent Control in West Palm Beach, FL
House rodents are common in the South Florida area, thanks to the same favorable climate that brings humans here. Dealing with a rodent issue is a common occurrence for homeowners in West Palm Beach, FL.
Catching rats is a great way to address a rodent problem in the early stages but, beyond that, can be woefully inadequate. For more advanced infestations, it’s best to contact a pest control company like Native Pest Management.
Our team of pest control specialists is well-equipped for the humane removal of pests. We use pet-safe methods and procedures quickly and effectively to eradicate the population.
After calling us for rodent control, you can count on:
- A free inspection of your entire home, locating any active spots of infestation in need of treatment.
- A custom treatment plan depending on what we find in our inspection. This will include trapping, monitoring, and preventative measures. We also will sanitize the droppings and other remnants of your rodent infestation.
- A guarantee that your home or business will stay free of rodents following our services.
Our team of professionals is knowledgeable and ready to help you get a pest-free home back in no time. With our rodent control, we safely get rid of mice and rats.
We have a five star average from over 2000 reviews on Google, Yelp, Facebook, Nextdoor and Homeadvisor to back up our claims. We are here to help with your rat control needs in West Palm Beach, FL.