How to Keep Rats Out of a Home

Updated on April 6, 2016

How To Get Rid of Rats

Wild rats have been a notable scourge for mankind throughout all of recorded history. These nasty beasts are responsible for countless human deaths and the destruction of vast quantities of human foodstuffs worldwide over many centuries. Present day rats are no less dangerous, certainly un-welcome in our homes.

Rats are dangerous! They can ruin your food, destroy things in your home and start electrical fires. Rats and their fleas can carry disease.

Rats are shy, nocturnal rodents that seek food, water, shelter and safety in our homes. In many cases rats don't live inside a home but visit during their active hours.


Where Do Rats Live Outside?

Under wood piles or lumber that is not being used often

Under bushes, vines and in tall grasses that are not trimmed or cut back

Under rocks in the garden

In holes under buildings

In cars, appliances and furniture that has been put outside and is no longer being used

In and around trash and garbage that has been left on the ground

What Foods Brings Rats Into my Yard and Neighborhood?

  • Garbage that rats can get into, like garbage cans with loose lids, plastic or paper bags, and litter.
  • Food for pets and birds that has not been eaten. Birdseed on the ground, pet food in pet dishes, bread crumbs, etc.
  • Fruits and berries that have fallen to the ground.
  • Compost pile or worm bin that isn't taken care of the right way (do not put meat, fish, poultry, or dairy in the compost)
  • Dog droppings


Where do Rats Live Inside the Home?

In the insulation of walls or ceilings

Inside the crawl spaces

Behind or under cupboards, counters, bathtubs and shower stalls

Near hot water heaters and furnaces

In basements, attics and wherever things are stored in boxes, paper or cloth


What Do Rats Eat When They Get Inside The House?

  • Foods, fats, oils that have been spilled and left on counters, floors, appliances and tables
  • Grains, like cereal, oats, rice and vegetables like potatoes and carrots that are in cardboard boxes and plastic bags
  • Pet food in boxes or bags
  • Any garbage that is not in a can with a tight lid

Keep Rats Away From Your Home!

Do Not Give Food And Shelter To These Most Unwanted Guests!

First, and most important, block the rats access to your home. Many people focus on filling holes and cracks inside their home. The problem is that in the typical home there are too many pathways through walls, attics, and crawlspaces for you to block them all. A much more effective method to block access is from the outside of your home.

Stack firewood 18 inches off the ground and away from all buildings.

Keep garbage can lids closed tightly.

Plant bushes so they will stay at least 3 feet from your house.

Keep yards and alleys clean. Take junk to the dump!

If you feed them, they will stay. Pick up fruit and vegetables in your yard.

Do not compost any animal products (fish, meat, chicken, cheese, butter). Keep lids tight.

Use only rodent resistant composters.

In basements keep any food in closed containers that rats can't chew through.

Cover all openings to your house. Rats can get into very small places.

Do not leave your pet food outside. If your pet doesn't eat it, the rats will.

Roof rats get into your house from tree branches that hang over the roof. Keep trees cut back and cover any openings in the eves.

Rats are excellent climbers and can jump a fair distance. Even openings that are well above the ground need to be blocked too.

How to Make Homemade Rat Poison

Things You'll Need:

Disposable gloves Chicken broth Flour or cornmeal Sugar or powdered chocolate mix Boric acid Baking soda Plaster of Paris Jar lids.


Boric Acid Poison

[STEP 1]

Put on your disposable gloves to avoid skin irritation. Put 1 cup of boric acid into a bowl. Begin adding chicken broth to the boric acid, about a 1/2 tsp. at a time. Stir very well after each addition, until you have a thick paste that's no longer easily stirred. If it's too thin, just add a little more boric acid. The odor of the broth will attract the rats, which will eventually die from consuming the boric acid.

[STEP 2]

Roll the paste into balls about the size of a marble. Place two or three of the balls into jar lids or other small disposable containers, creating baits that will be easy to relocate if need be.

[STEP 3]

Place the baits in areas where you have seen rat droppings, which are places that they are the most likely to reappear.

[STEP 4]

Watch the baited areas for the cessation of droppings, or for the appearance of dead rats.

Baking Soda Poison

[STEP 1]

Put on disposable gloves. Combine 1 cup of flour or cornmeal with 1 cup of sugar or powdered chocolate mix. Add 1 cup of baking soda and blend the mixture very well. The sugar or chocolate will attract the rats and the baking soda will soon kill them after they've consumed it.

[STEP 2]

Fill some jar lids about half full with the rat bait.

[STEP 3]

Set the baited jar lids wherever you have noticed rat droppings. The rats are most likely to return to these spots.

[STEP 4]

Monitor the areas for indications that your problem is solved, once you no longer spot new droppings. Watch for dead rats.

Plaster of Paris Poison

[STEP 1]

Put on your disposable gloves. Combine 1 cup each of flour or cornmeal, sugar or powdered chocolate mix and plaster of Paris. Blend the mixture very well. The smell of the sugar or chocolate will attract the rats and they will eat the bait. Consuming the plaster of Paris will kill them when it combines with fluids and hardens in their gastrointestinal tracts.

[STEP 2]

Spoon enough of the mixture into jar lids to fill them about halfway.

[STEP 3]

Place the baited lids in areas of your home where you've noticed rat traffic, particularly where you've found droppings.

[STEP 4]

Watch the areas carefully for dead vermin. You should also notice that the appearance of fresh droppings is diminishing or has ceased altogether.


Poisons are not recommended for rat control inside buildings, since poisoned rats can die in hard to reach places causing a very bad smell. When poisons are used, they must be secured (such as in a bait station) so that they are not available to children, pets or non-target animals.

To Kill A Rat, Use A Rat Trap!


The best trap is the large, simple, cheap wooden "snap trap." They are sold in hardware stores.

To use the trap:

1. BAIT IT with pieces of apple, potato, raw bacon or with peanut butter spread on a cotton ball. Make sure the bait is attached to trap.

2. ATTACH IT firmly to the ground or solid place to keep the rat from dragging the trap away.

3. PLACE THE TRAP near where you have found the droppings. Make sure the trap is safe from people, children, pets or animals who could get hurt from it.

Motomco Tomcat Rat Snap Trap


Motomco's mechanical traps are ideal for capturing the occasional "intruder" or as part of a more extensive control program. Traps are easy to use and work well along walls, in corners or wherever rodents travel.



  • Hard plastic jaws are wired to a strong spring, promoting quick death.
  • Bait cup is loaded from underneath, removing fingers from harm.
  • Trap is armed by foot pedal so it can be baited, placed and the jaws set.
  • Multiple use durability although spring is subject to rust, so traps should be stored indoors.
  • Tamper-proof Bait Station is offered (at an extra charge).


  • Not available in stores so Internet or telephone orders are required.
  • Like all baited traps, victims can be non-intended targets, such as lizards, pets and songbirds.


Tomcat Rat Snap Trap, 1-Pack
Tomcat Rat Snap Trap, 1-Pack

This is THE best rat trap I've ever used! I don't have to worry about smashing my fingers by accident while trying to get it into position; to set this one you just step on the back of it (or you can squeeze it with your hand). I don't set it off by accident as I'm trying to maneuver it into position; this one isn't on a hair trigger like the old fashion kind.

The rat can only approach from the desired side so there is no chance of him being tossed away from the trap as can happen with the old fashion kind. Best of all, there is virtually NO WAY for a rat to get to the bait without setting this thing off - every time! That's because the bait is positioned such that he must press the lever to get to it. It's also positioned such that they never get "kinda" caught. Lastly, those "teeth" pretty much insure that he's not going anywhere.


NEW - Agri Zap RZUIR1 Rat Zapper Ultra


The new, larger Rat Zapper Ultra offers you more kills and longer stand-by times. Perfect for larger rats (and mice too!), ongoing rodent infestations and commercial applications. Bait with ordinary pet food. Mice and rats enter the chamber and are dispatched with a quick but powerful jolt of electricity. If they'll fit in the chamber, Rat Zapper will dispatch them!

No blood, no gore, no mess, and no poisons to endanger your pets or the environment. Flashing kill light tells you when you have a catch; simply tip the Rat Zapper and let the dead rodent slide into the trash can.

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    • profile image

      Teresa 8 weeks ago

      My neighbor's house is abandoned. Needless to say they have a rat infestation that came into my yard and somehow a few got into my home. I did a cup of baking soda, flour and sugar. I added some brown sugar and cookies to it and I had some tomcat rat poison pellets. I crushed up in the mixture. I placed them in little sandwich bags and tied knots in the bags. The rat was dead within a week. I also placed a few under the house.

    • profile image

      Ann 4 months ago

      I tried baking soda with flour and sugar mixture and it didn't work.

    • profile image

      Caroline 14 months ago

      I trapped a rat in my washing machine in the garage. Will running him thru the hot cycle kill him?

    • profile image

      Snakepliskynn 14 months ago

      Save your gallon milk jugs. You don't want to risk injury to your pets, your neighbors pets or any innocent victim. Fix up the same formula in 6 favorites spots of opportunity such as near your plants, your trash can, etc.... About half full of water with a nice mix of sugar, chocolate and water screw the lid back on and bury the jug even with the ground. Sprinkle a little chocolate powder around and they will dig a hole just large enough to drop in and drown. No bad smell in the house. I could get into other methods but this is not the forum. If you doubt it, you can paperclip size hole in the lid of the just. Put plaster of paris in a zip lock bag and secure it to the lid so it dangles above the water in the jug when you screw it back on. It remains dry until the rat that just fell into the water panics tearing the bag open only to end its life a tad bid quicker.

    • profile image

      ratman 19 months ago

      can any of these, the boric acid, or baking soda cause harm to an animal that may eat the rodent before it dies? In the area we live in we are concerned for wildlife such as coyote and wildcats, as well as a possible domestic animal such as cat or dog. I wish to try all these right away if I can get an answer to this! Thanks!

    • profile image

      Kathy 20 months ago

      I have mixed "ENO's" antacid powder with peanut butter and put a small dish on the back mat where the rats have left droppings.....Did it last night and the dish was empty with teeth marks clearly visible in the remnant. A lot of droppings around the dish. Will do it again tonight and keep you posted.

    • profile image

      Prue 2 years ago

      Thanky Thanky for all this good inoanmftior!

    • profile image

      James 3 years ago

      I used ferret droppings got them from a local farmer,a real ferret will rip A rat to shreds,( used to work on a farm),u can set a ferret free in ure house but it's retrieving it that poses a problem,the droppings were successful in my case.

    • jgary lm profile image

      jgary lm 5 years ago

      I hate rats. I have used traditional traps successfully. Thank you for this lens.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I have seen this baking soda recipe elsewhere. Most people just repost what they have seen elsewhere without actually trying it. May I ask, have you actually tried this with success...anyone? thanks

      Theo, baking soda can be harmful to pets or children in large amounts. No one yet has been willing to define what a large amount means, but I would assume it is large. It can cause an electrolite imbalance. Small amounts are safe.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago


      With regards to the Baking Soda Poison, is it safe for children, if a child eats it would it harm him? excellent article by the way!