How to Get Rid of Rats Without Poison: A Humane, No-Kill Approach to Rat Control

Updated on October 22, 2018
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Jorge loves nature and the outdoors, but loves giving unsolicited advice about it much more.

How to Get Rid of Rats Without Using Harmful Poison

Have you recently discovered an infestation, but aren't sure how to get rid of rats without poison? Are you concerned about harming the rats or even harming yourself with noxious chemicals?

This is actually a common problem for people who have noticed rats living in their midst. One solutions is of course to coexist with them peacefully, but naturally you may not want to do that because they can spread disease, eat your food, and leave their little "presents" everywhere for you to clean up.

Instead of going on a killing spree, though, here are some suggestions for how to get rid of rats without poison or inhumane traps:

Your typical rodent. Kind of cute, really.
Your typical rodent. Kind of cute, really.

1) Make or Buy a Humane Trap

We're going to take a two-pronged approach to this issue: first we're going to catch the rats, then we're going to take measures to deter any new ones from moving in. For this first step, we're going to need to set up some humane rat traps. Traditional rat traps kill rodents, often slowly through painful suffocation or drowning.

Instead, we're going to take a catch-and-release philosophy. You can often go to a home improvement store and find no-kill rat traps, but you can also make one at home with a large bucket or trash bin:

  1. Find a small pole of wood or metal, less than an inch or so in diameter. Actually, you can even use a wire. Make two holes directly across from each other near the rim of the bucket or trash bin that are big enough to allow you to suspend the stick or wire over the middle of the bucket.
  2. Find a soda can and make a hole at the top and the bottom that you can thread the pole or wire through. After that, fit that middle pole or wire through the holes you made in the bucket, so that everything cuts across the top of the bucket. The idea is that the can in the middle kind of rolls along an axis, so it's unstable. If doesn't roll around like a flimsy toilet paper tube, then you might need to tweak the sizes of the holes a bit.
  3. Take some scrap wood and make a ramp going up the side of the bucket or trash bin so that the rats can climb into it.
  4. Smear peanut butter all over the soda can.
  5. Leave a trail of peanut butter going up the ramp and onto the middle tube.

What's supposed to happen here is that the hungry rats climb onto that unstable cylinder in the middle and fall into the bucket. Some people who intend to kill the rats fill the bucket with water, but since we're trying to keep the alive, just an empty bucket will do. If you want to be nice, you can also fill it with some food and a dish of water, so that the rats don't get too hungry or thirsty while they wait for you to find them. (Rodents have fast metabolisms.)

Make sure the bucket is tall enough that the rats can't jump out. Rats can actually jump pretty high, so you may want to use something as high as a trash can.

Once you've collected some rats, take them outside somewhere nearby (if you take them from an urban area out to the woods, they will probably die). You don't want to release them much more than an acre or so away; they are likely to die if released too far from their familiar territory.

After you've done that (or even at the same time), you can start rat-proofing your home:

An Example of a DIY Humane Rat Trap

2) Get Rid of Rats Without Poison By Making Your House Uninteresting

There's no need to use poison when your house is of no interest to rats. How do you make your home less of a rat party spot? Make food inaccessible!

Rats can chew through flimsy containers fairly easily, so you might want to shop for some rat-proof, metal containers for your pantry. You could also consider putting your food somewhere that rats would be unable to reach, like your fridge.

Make sure there's no food around for the rats to feast on.
Make sure there's no food around for the rats to feast on.

3) Use Natural Rat Repellent

Like a lot of small animals, rats are sensitive to smells, so you may want to buy or make some spray out of a strong essential oil. You could try peppermint or even a cayenne pepper mixture. Spread that all around the problem areas to keep them from coming back.

4) Blast Annoying Sounds to Get Rid of Rats and Mice

Some animals (including humans) are repelled by high-pitched sounds. There are some useful sonic animal repellents on the market that don't harm the animals, but keep them away with a high-pitched whir that most humans will be unable to hear.

Be forewarned, though: I said "most" for a reason. Some people--especially young people--can actually hear these sounds, and if they can it will drive them nuts. You may also unknowingly repel other, more desirable animals, so make sure you choose the product wisely. Look through the reviews carefully.

5) Seal All Points of Entry

Finally, as with any other kind of pest control, investigate to see where the rats are coming from and seal the entry points as best you can. This may not always be effective (especially if your house is made of wood) because rats can chew through a lot of materials. However, if you followed all of the advice above, then your home will be a lot less attractive to them, and they won't be as incentivized to chew through your walls.

Keep your humane rat traps around for any stragglers and check them every few hours. Eventually, if you've rat-proofed your home, kept spraying repellent, and sealed all the points of entry, you should be seeing fewer and fewer rats showing up.

If this doesn't solve your problem, you may need to call in a professional. It might be harder to find one that doesn't use poison, but if you would really rather not hurt the rats, the peace of mind can be worth it.

Of course, someone in the neighborhood may already be busy taking care of your rat problem for you.
Of course, someone in the neighborhood may already be busy taking care of your rat problem for you.

Getting Rid of Rats Without Poison

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This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

Questions & Answers

  • Do you know that you have to take rat or mice at least 25 miles away or they find their way back?

    You may have missed the point of this article. If you take a rodent that grew up in your neighborhood 25 miles away (or even more than an acre or two), probably the reason why it won't find its way back is that it died. The reason I suggest releasing the rodent outside, relatively close by, is so that it's still within its familiar territory. This lessens the likelihood that it will die. If you release it somewhere totally unfamiliar, then you may as well kill it in a trap. If you're okay with killing the rodent to get rid of it, that's fine, but that's not what this article is addressing.

    By sealing the entry points to the house and using repellent, this should help keep it from coming back. Even if you kill the rodent or release it miles away, and you don't take these other preventative measures, new rodents will just come and take their place.

© 2018 Jorge Vamos

Comments

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    • profile image

      Susan G 

      34 hours ago

      Having a cat is the best way. We had an onslaught of rats because of our birdfeeder. We brought our cat outside for 15 minutes at night on a leash. Never saw them again!

    • Cheri Isom profile image

      Cheri Isom 

      4 months ago from Milwaukee

      Baking soda also works great to eliminate mice.

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