Rodent Prevention and Abatement

What can you do to help prevent and address a rat problem in your neighborhood?

Learn about Rats

  • Rats require roughly one ounce of food a day and a half ounce of water.
  • They can gnaw through plastic, wood, soft metals, wire, and even cinderblock and brick.
  • Rats can squeeze into the tiniest of spaces.

Find the Rats

  • Routinely check the perimeter of your dwelling, yard and any sheds or fences for evidence of burrows.
  • Routinely check trash barrels for evidence of gnawed holes on the bottom and sides.
  • Believe your neighbors if they report seeing rats. Rats are nocturnal, very elusive, and very fast. You may have them on your property and not be aware of it. 

Don't feed the Rats

  • Use rodent-proof containers with tight-fitting lids for garbage and other trash (heavy duty plastic or metal).  Do NOT store or put trash out for pick-up in bags only.
  • Always store trash and recycling in covered containers with no holes or cracks, especially when leaving out for pickup. 
  • Wash trash and recycling containers and the areas around them frequently.
  • Use rodent-proof containers to store food and pet food.
  • Don’t leave any kind of food outside. 
  • Don’t feed wild animals. Feeding wild animals disrupts the natural food chain and attracts rats. 
  • Stop outdoor composting if there are rats in your neighborhood, or use rat-resistant tumbler composters. 
  • Clean up after pets: rats will feed on leftover pet food and even pet waste!
  • Be aware of rodent activity in and around outdoor gardens and fruit plants in your yard.  Regularly pick up dropped fruit from trees. Rats will eat fruits and vegetables!
  • Put bird food in feeders only and don't overfeed. Store seeds in containers with tight lids. Clean up spills daily.
    • If you have a substantial rat issue- remove bird feeders at this time.

Evict the Rats

  • Plug holes in floors and walls with wire mesh (copper, stainless or aluminum).
    • For holes inside, cover the mesh with spackle, plaster or hardening sealant.
  • Repair broken windows, doors, screens, and roofs.
  • Tear down or repair dilapidated fences, sheds, and garages.
  • Remove abandoned vehicles, appliances, construction debris,  and tires from yards.
  • Stack firewood eighteen inches off the ground and away from buildings 
  • Routinely mow lawns and trim shrubbery.
  • Clean up debris and brush piles on your property. 
  • Clear vegetation and plants along building foundations. 
  • Clear ivy around burrows. 
  • Trim tree limbs so that they are at least four feet away from your home. 

Exterminate the Rats:

The best way to deal with rats on your property is to hire a licensed pest management professional (ask to see his/her Massachusetts License), who incorporates Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Practices.

  • Whatever you do, DON’T poison rats! Rat poison also poisons the animals that eat rats! 
  • Never allow traps to be placed where children or pets can reach them.
  • If you perform pest control yourself, carefully read and follow labels on all traps.
  • Lay traps in areas where activity has been noted, and place no more than 20 feet apart.
  • When emptying a trap or if you find a dead rat, do not handle it with bare hands; use gloves or tools and place within a trash receptacle.

Prevent the Rats:

Rats have a very sensitive nose, which they use to find food, but it can also be used to deter them. There are many chemical repellents, but while some of these can be effective, rats can learn to tolerate and resist them. But in your anti-rat campaign, everything helps. There are a lot of commercial options, as well as some home remedies:

  • Ammonia
  • Peppermint oil
  • Castor oil
  • Citronella oil

Soak several cotton balls in whatever oil or chemical you’re using and tuck them in and around your garbage cans and other places you may expect to find rats.

For more information, see Rodents | CDC