If you have noticed rats outside your home, you must take steps to eliminate them quickly to protect your family, pets and general home environment. Rats carry diseases and can even start electrical fires if they make their way into your home and begin gnawing on your wiring. In addition, rats multiple very quickly, so the longer you ignore the problem, the worse it will become.
Determine where the rats congregate. The Norway rat, a common breed of outdoor rat, likes cold, concealed areas. You may find them inside piles of wood, in dark corners, under rocks or behind metal trash cans. Look for signs of droppings and nests.
Set snap traps in the areas where you have noticed rat activity. For increased effectiveness, the University of California Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program recommends using the newer plastic snap traps such as the Snapper, T Rex Snap Trap or the TOMCAT. Set traps in dark corners and along walls, as rats tend to stick close to walls when they travel.
Place a food bait on your rat traps. Bacon and dried fruit will attract rats, and you may also have success with potatoes or cheese. If using a traditional wooden snap trap, tie the food to the trigger with a piece of string.
Check your traps regularly. When you find a dead rat, use rubber gloves to place the animal in a covered outdoor trash can and wash the trap with hot water and disinfectant. Place the trap in the same spot where the previous rat was caught.
Prevent rats from returning. Cover your trash cans, remove any pet food or other products outdoors and mow your lawn regularly, as rats will often dwell in tall grass. Sweep and hose down your cement often and remove any clutter like piles of wood or stacks of storage boxes.