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Humanely Removing Wild Rats from Your Home

Removing Wild Rats from Your Home

by Debbie "The Rat Lady" Ducommun

The best way to keep rats off your property is to remove any access to food or shelter. Rats are attracted to pet food and bird seed as well as garbage. Garbage and food should be stored in metal or heavy duty plastic containers. You need to seal any access to your house, even very small holes as young rats and mice can squeeze through any opening they can fit their head through.

Please do not use poison or glue traps which are inhumane.

Using a Live-Trap

If you want to remove wild rats from your home without harming them, you can use a live trap. Live traps are usually available from humane societies and feed stores. The best thing is to put the trap out and fix it so the door won't close at first so the rats will get used to eating out of it. The best bait is peanut butter put directly on the treadle. Once you know rats are eating the bait, you can set the trap. Doing it this way insures that the rat doesn't accidentally set the trap off before he goes in. If that happens, he would never go in the trap again.

Now, the tricky part is where to release him. You can't just let rats go in forest or field. They must have source of water, and around water they will be able to find things to eat such as insects, worms, snails, fish, frogs, etc. So the best place to release them is at a permanent source of water such as a creek, river, lake or pond.

In most parts of the country, the common wild rats are Norway rats (Rattus norvegicus), also called brown, sewer or barn rats. In warmer climates the roof rat (Rattus rattus), also called the black rat or tree rat, can be found and is often the most common wild rat in these areas. Roof rats must be released in an area where there is water and trees.

A Rat Repellant

A woman in the Army stationed in Baghdad, Iraq emailed me with information about a rat repellant that really worked in her case. She wrote:

"A small company makes a totally harmless rat repellant called Fresh Cab. I wrote to them and they sent a big case to us for free. The product comes in little sachets (like potpourri) that smell like pine boughs (I think they have other scents too). You put the sachets in problems areas and - no more rats!! They WORK!! The smell actually keeps rats away. This is the ONLY non-kill/non-trap product I could find anywhere and it DOES work. We're talking about rodents out in the middle of the desert here too - our meals are DEFINITELY easier for them to get than anything else."

The company is:

Crane Creek Gardens
Earth-Kind, Inc.
17 Third Ave SE
Stanley, ND 58784

Customer Service:

Fax: 701-628-1320 (info (at) )

Another company called makes a rat repellent from bobcat and fox odors. Their website is at:

Peppermint Oil

Soak cotton balls in peppermint oil and place many cotton balls in the area where the rodents frequent. The peppermint smell will sting the rodents' noses and make them leave the area. Seal all holes where rodents are coming in from the outside.

Birth Control

If you don't mind having some wild rats on your property, but want to prevent the birth of too many, you can try this old-time remedy for birth control that was reported to work for wild rats by one person. Mix the herbs pennyroyal and asafeotida with split peas. Unfortunately she did not tell me amounts so try equal amounts of each. Then mix it all with peanut butter to make a thick "cookie dough." The woman who told me this many years ago reported that the numbers of wild rats dwindled slowly as the rats died off and did not reproduce.

Ultra-sonic pest chasers are great too! They emit a frequency we can't hear but is audible to rodents and is very painful for them and they leave. I have them in my home and they actually seem to keep bugs and insects away too! Do NOT use if you have pet rabbits, hamsters, gerbils or guinea pigs.

Suggestion from Carol Alban - Flutist and Composer

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