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Rid your home of rats

Updated May 16, 2011

This information is provided by the County of Los Angeles Department of Health Services Public Health Programs. Vector Management Program, 5050 Commerce Drive, Baldwin Park, CA 91706, (626) 430-5450.

A Practical Guide to Rodent Control (PDF)

Rats can be found in many of our residents' areas where natural foliage provide them with an ideal place to live and make their homes. Fruit, avocado and nut trees provide an excellent source of food.

If the rat is seeking shelter, he can easily enter your home by climbing adjacent trees, gnawing through wood siding and partitions, or by crawling through even the smallest of unsealed holes or vents.

Once inside, he will remain an uninvited, destructive guest, until you trap or destroy him.

Where to find them

  • Rats live in burrows or holes in the earth, and also above ground.
  • Look for them in attics, basements, or other buildings on your property.
  • Inspect piles of trash or wood because these areas are used by rats for harborage.
  • Trees and dense shrubbery also act as nesting sites.

Some signs to look for

  • Seeing them - in trees or on wires and fences. Rats are gray, black or brown in color.
  • Droppings - found most often around the rat's nesting sites, runways, or feeding areas.
  • Noise - thumping, scraping or squealing in walls or attics.
  • Damage - gnaw marks on fruit or branches, or chewed wood, cloth, paper or bags.
  • Smudges - black marks on exposed runway surfaces made when a rat rubs its dirty hair against a structure.
  • Tracks - five-toed and up to one inch in length.

Four steps to rid your home of tree rats

  1. Build them out
    • Seal all possible rat entrance holes 1/4" or more in size.
    • Since rats can walk on utility wires, be sure and check around the roof and eaves for entrance holes.
    • Use metal screening (1/4" mesh, no less than 20 gauge) to tightly cover all vents.
  2. Eliminate rat harborage
    • Remove piles of trash, rubbish or debris.
    • Elevate lumber or firewood 18" above the ground.
    • Trim shrubs, vines and trees back from your house.
  3. Remove available food
    • Cover all refuse containers.
    • Remove ripe fruit from trees or ground.
    • Remove leftover pet food.
  4. Destroy the rats
    • Trap them - Use a wooden snap trap baited with bacon, apple, walnut, etc.
    • Place traps along walls or other runways.
    • Fasten each trap to a structure with wire or strong cord so rats cannot drag traps away.
    • Inspect traps daily.
    • Use poison - Be sure label directions found on the container are carefully followed. Poison is an efficient method of killing rats, but great care should be exercised in its use if there are children or pets in the vicinity.

REMEMBER! All control methods must be used together in order to become effective.

For further information or assistance, call the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services Vector Management Program at (626) 430-5450.

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