Ridding rats in the yard, or the home of rodents requires removing three things necessary for their survival: habitat, food and water. Removal of these will force an animal to leave. (Inside? See Mice in the attic.)
Norway rats, the common rat in our area, usually digs burrows in dense ground cover and under debris. Remove the habitat around the house and clean up the exterior of any debris. Is there a woodpile, piles of leaves and brush or dense ground cover? Clean a safe zone around the home to remove any cover close to the building.
Eliminate food sources such as birdseed and pet food. Rats have a preference for meat and fish but they will eat nearly any type of food. A common but not well-known source of food is dog feces.
Water. Rats require almost one ounce of water per day. Do you keep a dish of water for your pet? Does a hose or sprinkler leak all summer?
There are several courses of action to eradicate the population of rodents in your yard and home: traps, rodentcides, ultrasonic sound and predators.
Trapping is an effective means of control when there are not too many rodents present. Traps are good because they do not use poison, let the trapper know what animal is present, and allow for disposal of the critter preventing odor problems.
Rodentcides are a popular means of eradication because of lower cost, acceptance by rodents and low hazard threat to non-targets. Three popular baits are pellets, seeds and blocks. No product is necessarily the best because of the preferences local rodents may desire. We recommend pellets indoors and block baits outdoors.
Ultrasonic sound may have varied success because rats can become accustomed to sound and its limited penetration. Ultrasonic transmitters are directional and do not penetrate solid obstructions so rats can learn to avoid direct contact with the sound by hiding behind blockages like walls or rocks.
Predators such as cats and dogs are not necessarily good exterminators against rodents. It is not unusual to find rat burrows below doghouses as rats quickly learn they can share the pet’s food and water when the pet is away or sleeping.
A successful rodent control program includes a combination of baiting and trapping for the highest rate of success. When baiting initially, try not to disturb the original habitats of the pests or they may relocate to another area.
Drop several block baits in each hole and cover with something like a patio block. Keep an eye on them and replace as soon as any come up missing.
You will discover holes about the size of a fist under some low shrubs in the back yard, or neighbors will claim a rat run under the fence to holes of a rat den.
From the amount of questions about rats and the amount of ‘rodent killer’ we have been selling the last two-years, we know there is a rodent problem. We as a community need to rodent-proof our neighborhood and take this problem seriously.