Rats are some of the smartest animals on the planet, but they are also one of the biggest disease-spreading pests around. That’s why so many people wonder how to get rid of rats in a natural, safe way, and that curiosity has spiked recently.
It turns out, rats don’t just carry filth and annoying disease — they can be lethal. In fact, recently in New York City three people became severely ill, (one them even died), due to the rare disease leptospirosis. According to the NYC Health Department: “Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection that is most commonly spread by contact with rat urine and is very rarely spread from person to person.”
However rare, the disease can be lethal, evidenced by the New York death. And that’s not the only disease rats spread. Thankfully, if you’re wondering how to get rid of rats, there are natural, effective ways to do so, without harmful rat poison.
Go to any home department store and you’ll find plenty of rodent traps and repellants. Unfortunately, a large portion of those contain poison rat bait, and that’s something you don’t want any part of. For starters, rats and other rodents typically make their way to your food, which means you probably put traps near your pantry, shelves, oven, refrigerator, and so on. If the poison bait is strong enough to kill rats and mice, what do you think that poison will do to humans? Certainly nothing good — which means you don’t want that stuff anywhere near you or your food.
Most of these are extremely toxic and cause damage to humans, animals and the environment. For instance, rat poisons endanger thousands of children a year, and the Environmental Protection Agency reports they “are, by far, the leading cause of [pesticide-related] visits to health care facilities in children under the age of six years and the second leading cause of hospitalization.” Children are naturally curious, and given that most rat poisons taste sweet, this can be a lethal combination. The same is true for your pets. But that’s not all.
Rat poison also kills off wildlife that actually helps control the rodent population. So not only do rodenticides do damage to the rodents themselves — they’re actually lethal to humans, pets and rodent predators. Beyond that, they can leech into food, water and the soil, compounding the damage.
We’re talking highly toxic ingredients like warfarin, chlorophacinone, diphacinone, bromadiolone, difethialone, brodifacoum, bromethalin, cholecalciferol, zinc phosphide and strychnine, among others. Boric acid is a less dangerous chemical that can be used to get rid of rodents, but it’s still toxic if ingested and poses hormone disruption risks to humans. (Canada actually advises against using it for pest control.)
That’s why it’s always better and safer to use natural, humane options. Here are some ways to get rid of rats naturally:
1. Electric Shock and Catch & Release Traps
While there are non-toxic rat baits out there, the reviews are mixed. So if you’re looking to use a store-bought remedy, electric shock and catch and release traps seem to be the most effective. Electric shock devices give rats a scare, making them avoid those areas. It may be unpleasant for the animal, but it’s not lethal nor poisonous — just a deterrent.
As for traps, while traditional mouse traps can work on rats as well, they do physical damage to the rodents. They are not toxic, of course, which is a plus, but if you’re looking not to harm any animals, you can use catch and release traps that contain the pests. If you opt for glue traps, make sure to use a natural glue.
2. Essential Oils
Essential oils are tremendous for people wondering how to get rid of rats in a safe, non-toxic way.
Rats and mice cannot take the pungent odor of peppermint oil, making it a safe, natural repellent that comes with no harm to humans or the animals. Place drops of peppermint near the areas that are prone to rats, such as openings, near the pantry, etc.
Similar to peppermint, citronella oil — known to repel mosquitos and other insects — can also dissuade rats. Again, it is the strong smell that rats dislikes.
Another effective essential oil for how to get rid of rats is eucalyptus. Research published in the Scientific World Journal explored the effects of eucalyptus oil on repelling rats. Mature and healthy house rats, both male and female, were exposed to eucalyptus oil in 5 percent, 10 percent and 20 percent concentrations. Daily application of the 5 percent and 10 percent oil seemed most effective, and the researchers concluded, “Present studies reveal the potential of eucalyptus oil in repelling away R. rattus; however, further studies may be conducted to enhance the persistence of repellent effect for longer period of time.” (Just be cautious. Eucalyptus oil is not recommended around cats, either.)
3. Owl’s Feather
Rats are extremely smart creatures, and research shows they’ll adjust their behaviors to their surroundings. This includes threats and perceived threats. As studies conducted by the Department of Zoology at Tel-Aviv University show, rodents learn how to move and then avoid attacks from owls. Thus, when rodents see owls or signs of owls, they typically avoid those areas or flee. Thus, keeping an owl feather near holes and areas of rat infestations can drive them out.