For many homeowners, pest control is a chore reserved only for the year’s warmer months. However, rats or mice often gain entry into properties during winter as these creatures seek shelter from the cold weather.

If you’re noticing rats or mice around your property, it’s time to get in touch with a professional. However, if you’re considering a different approach and want to try a few things first, we’ll give you some tips below.

Signs of a rat infestation

  • Strong ammonia-like smell
  • Noisy, scrambling noises around your home
  • Pellet-shaped droppings 
  • Grease marks on surfaces and walls
  • Tail and foot marks in dusty, undisturbed areas 
  • Gnaw marks on furniture pieces, storage boxes and other items
  • Damaged electrical cables

How to get rid of rats in your home or office

a rat in the sink

Rats are huge problems inside homes and businesses. They are filthy pests that contaminate food and carry illnesses. Furthermore, they chew on furniture pieces and other items around the household. They can even cause fires by gnawing on electrical wires. Below are some of the ways you can get rid of rats in your home. 

Inspection, Sanitation, and Exclusion

Check entry points and rats location

Mice and rats can enter residential and commercial properties through small wall and foundation holes. They also get in through open windows, doors, or vents. Thus, when planning effective pest control solutions, inspection is the first step. First, look around your property. Are there any holes or gaps that need to be addressed? Fix them right away. If you think you need assistance, call pest control experts right away. 

Outdoors, rats dig and excavate burrow systems for nesting and food storage. Once inside homes, they build nests in warm, hidden areas using shredded materials like fabric and newspapers. These nests often house young rats and are typically close to food sources. Depending on the species, some of them will live in attics, storage rooms, cabinets, basements, or in wall voids. 

Declutter and keep your area clean

Maintaining a clutter-free home is your first line of defense when protecting your space from a rodent invasion. Reducing clutter means lessening potential hiding places for rats and mice.

Remove all potential food sources

Excess pet food, food scraps, and leftovers can be good food sources for a wide range of pests, not just rodents. Clean up any spillage and store food items in tightly sealed containers. 

Keep your yard clean

Keep your outdoor area clean. Remove wood piles and clean up debris. Cleaning is most especially important if you’re also feeding birds or other animals in the garden. Rats are not picky eaters and will eat anything that’s inside feeder baskets. Furthermore, pick up fallen fruits and keep other storage containers clean. 

Cover household waste

Keep household waste containers closed at all times. It’s best to keep them out of direct sunlight to lessen the smells and slow down the rate of decomposition. 

Seal gaps and cracks

Rats can get inside structures through exterior holes and gaps. Inspect your Texas property regularly. If there are any possible entry points, seal them with cement, mesh, or wire wool. 

Use rat traps and rodent baits

humane rodent and rat trap

Rats and mice are very persistent pests. You can be sure that in where there are humans, there are also rats. Fortunately, there are tons of effective ways to get rid of them. Two of the best methods you can explore are rodent baits and rat traps. These tools are also inexpensive, easy to use and can be left for long periods of time. 

However, all traps, whether baited or not, should be inspected on a regular basis. A dying or dead rat can attract lots of secondary insects, and cause another infestation. 

When it comes to buying plastic traps, choose the highest quality ones. Some plastic traps are made from brittle, cheap plastic. They’ll break easily. Additionally, if you have pets, baiting with rat poison can be risky. If a rodent gets poisoned and makes its way into your pet’s water dish or your pet eats the rodent, they can also get poisoned. In this case, it’s best to use traps and baits that aren’t poison but draw the rodents in and trap them.

Rat Traps

A rat trap is a trap created and designed to capture rats. Its designs are often similar to other kinds of mousetraps, but with some adjustments for bigger sized rodents. 

Below are examples of rat traps

Snap traps

Snap traps are one of the most common kinds of rodent traps. It uses a fast trigger system to catch rats and mice. When using a snap trap, go for a bigger trap labeled for rat control. Small mouse traps are not likely to hold or kill rats. Instead, it can inhumanely injure the rodent. 

The original wooden snap trap works effectively. However, if tampered with or misused, it can break paws or fingers. 

Live or Natural traps

In these types of traps, the rat can get in but can’t get out. Once the rodent goes into the hole, the mechanism snaps to the other side. Natural or live traps should be inspected and emptied regularly. Moreover, once captured, mice or rats should be killed humanely, or released somewhere far from humans. 

Glue Boards

While glue boards for rodent control are often criticized, it remains one of the most common approaches when it comes to capturing rats. It’s not always effective though, since bigger rats or mice can pull themselves loose from the glue. Also, they can sometimes drag the glue board around as it sticks to their bodies. 

Rodent Baits

Rodent baits are usually liquid- or food-based. During the summer, when water is scarce, liquid baits work effectively. Food-based baits have seeds or grains mixed in to attract more rats and mice. They often come in the form of pellets or blocks. 

Baiting traps

People use baiting traps to lure rats in. At times, non-toxic items like meat, peanut butter or fruits are attached, but in some instances, poison is also added. These are attached to the trap using a thread, wire or glue. This method is not always effective, since the rodent can sometimes pull off the bait without snapping the trap. 


Rodenticides are poison pesticides used for killing mice and rats. Rodenticides, when used correctly, can be effective in getting rid of rodents around properties. With so many types available on the market, looking for the best one to use in your home can be overwhelming. If the rat population around your home has gotten out of control, it may be best to leave the job to a licensed pest control professional. These experts have the knowledge and experience needed to handle chemicals responsibly. 

Tamper Resistant Bait Stations

Tamper-resistant bait stations are used to hold baits in place. Using these in rodent control improves the safety and effectiveness of rodenticides. 

How will we know if a bait station qualifies as “tamper-resistant?” The  EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), the U.S. agency tasked to protect human and environmental health, has set a list of criteria. The usual tamper-resistant bait station is an unbreakable black plastic box that comes with a locking lid. It must be strong enough to prohibit entry or destruction by other animals, as well as kids under six years old. Children shouldn’t be able to destroy or tamper with it using their hands, feet, or other tools like stones and sticks.

Inside a tamper-resistant bait station is a hole for the rodent to enter. There are also walled-off compartments that prevent kids from being able to reach inside. Rodent baits placed in plastic trays or other open containers don’t qualify as “tamper-resistant.” 


rat in a spring trap

What is the most effective DIY rat control method?

One of the best pest control solutions you can do is regular yard cleaning. Clean up piles of wood around the garden, and trim shrubs. Remove anything that can serve as shelter and nesting spots. Another thing you should do is pest exclusion. It’s a preventive strategy that involves sealing up parts of the structure where pests are likely to enter.

When to call a professional rat exterminator?

If you have mice, rats, or other rodents in or around your house, call an exterminator right away. While DIY pest control methods sometimes work, it’s not a long-lasting solution. It’s always better to seek the help of an insured, trained pest control company. If you’re in or around Baytown, TX, call Big Dave’s.

What scent will keep rats away?

Because of their highly developed sense of smell, mice and rats are susceptible to certain scents. Try placing cotton balls soaked in beaver oil, peppermint oil, and or citronella oil around your property. Sometimes, crushed onions or red pepper will also do the trick.