An integrated pest management approach works best for getting rid of rats in trees. Rat removal is essential for the safety of your family. These vermin commonly transmit diseases and parasites to people and other animals, contaminate food as they consume your groceries, and damage and destroy property. Take immediate action if you spot rats — which are easier to see at night — or rat feces. Rats are prolific and multiply quickly, producing large litters quite frequently.
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How to Get Rid of Rats in Trees
Step 1: Trim and Prune
Rats thrive in a mature landscape. Trim tree branches so they are not in contact with fences, wires, rooftops, and other tree branches. The branches of the tree should be pruned to at least 3 feet from the ground to prevent rats from jumping up onto them. Trim the lower branches of shrubs to expose the rats and increase their vulnerability to predators.
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Step 2: Create Rat Guards
Rat guards will prevent the animals from climbing the trees, and you can make them yourself. The University of Florida IFAS Extension suggests using an 18- to 24-inch-wide section of sheet metal that's 2 inches longer than the tree's girth.
Attach the sheet metal to the tree without damaging the bark. Drill a hole or use a hammer and nail to create a hole 2 inches from each corner of the sheet metal and wrap it around the tree trunk. Align the holes, thread a piece of metal wire through the holes, and secure it like a twist tie with pliers.
Step 3: Set Rat Traps
Affix classic bait-and-snap traps to the trees with wire where you have seen rats. Place the bait side closer to the ground for vertical tree branches and closer to the trunk for horizontal branches. Peanut butter makes the best bait because the trap will spring and kill the animal before it can remove the bait. You can use bits of hot dogs, but they're easier to steal out of the traps.
Avoid killing birds and other animals by removing the traps during the day. Set traps at sunset and leave them until sunrise. Remove and dispose of dead rats in the trash and reset the traps immediately.
Rat traps are dangerous — keep them out of the reach of pets and children.
Step 4: Remove Food Sources
Practice proper sanitation to get rid of a rat infestation by removing all edible items, which attract the vermin. Place all garbage and trash in sturdy garbage receptacles with snug-fitting lids. Exposed compost heaps should also be placed in containers with secure lids. Pick up your pet's food dish immediately after it has finished eating — do not leave bowls of uneaten food outside. Remove water bowls as well.
If your fruit trees are attracting the rats, do not allow fallen fruit to remain on the ground, and pick garden vegetables as soon as they are ripe enough. Remove all brush piles on your property and clean up fallen seeds under birdfeeders daily. If you notice rat activity under the feeders, consider removing them until you get the rats under control. Remove piles of trash or debris where rats like to hide and nest. Police your outdoor barbeque grill and other structures for rat activity and set traps in these areas upon finding rat droppings.
All rats are excellent climbers; however, those that nest in trees and exercise other arboreal tendencies are typically roof rats. Identify the species of rats and tailor your rat control program accordingly.