Getting Rid Of Rats: Understanding Rodent Behavior

Rats. The very word sends a chill down most anybody's spine. Rats have long been associated with filth, death and destruction. From the Black Death in the 14th century to their current day Hollywood portrayal as creatures of doom, these animals have always been on the receiving end of abuse, disgust and revulsion. Even actor James Cagney's misquoted line from the 1932 movie Taxi! – "Mmmmmm, you dirty rat" – conveys all the loathing and hatred that people have always felt for these animals. Rats live nearly everywhere humans do, and for good reason – human habits are an excellent source of food scraps. Rats, especially the black rat, Rattus rattus, are exceptionally timid creatures. If you've even seen one in your home it was probably running along the wall as fast as its tiny legs could carry it, and most likely in the dark. They rarely come out in the open as they are prey to several animals including cats, dogs and large birds. However, the lure of food is so strong that they're willing to brave all these dangers and live as close to humans as possible. The common sub-species found in North America is the Norway rat (Rattus norvegicus), also referred to as the sewer rat, and is far more aggressive toward humans and animals (as well as each other) than their other cousins.

Rats Infesting Your Home: Finding Their Lair

As is normal with any kind of infestation, the first step toward getting rid of rats would be to find out where exactly the culprits have made their home. These creatures usually behind double walls, under the house, in the basement, in the attic and anywhere they can breed and feed in safety without being discovered. They usually line the periphery of their habitat with bits of paper, straw or anything that's available for insulation, so these could be clues to spotting their hideout.

Trapping And Killing Rats: Pick Your Poison Snap Your Trap

Rat-catching being such an ancient 'art', there are several dozens of ways to achieve this. If you're squeamish about killing rats, you can always opt for non-lethal traps, and then and relocate them. Rat poisons or rodenticides are usually of three types – Cholecalciferol, which causes cardiac arrest, Bromethalin, which attacks the muscular system and brain, and the anticoagulant type which affects blood-clotting ability. Traps are either lethal or non-lethal, and can be electronic or manually loaded. Whichever method you prefer, make sure that children and pets are taken into consideration when placing traps. They can often be as dangerous to them as to the intended target.

Rodent Exclusion: Rat-Proofing Your Home

If you're building a new home, then you can use rodent-proof construction methods, such as sealing off potential entry points, using materials like steel rather than wood where possible, and several other effective techniques. The reason you should do this is that rodent removal is often more expensive than rodent-proofing. If, on the other hand, you're moving into a home that's already infested with rats, then it's probably wiser to get professionals to do it, just to make sure that the job is being done thoroughly.

Rat Infestation: It's About Attitude

Whatever your situation - whether dealing with a new infestation or trying to fight an existing one, keep your attitude up and you'll be the better for it. Rather that a 'why me' outlook, a 'what next' one will always fortify you and help you face the challenge ahead. Remember, rats have been living with us as far back as recorded human history and they're not about to leave in a hurry so chin up, and let's get to work.