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If you try to eliminate rats yourself, understand that you will also need to reduce food sources and shelter to prevent more rats from moving in. Trapping and setting out rat poison alone will not eliminate all rodents.
Make sure to always use traps designed for rats, not mice.
Wear gloves when handling traps. The scent of your hands and whatever you have touched (perhaps a pet) may cause rats to avoid the trap.
Snap traps are recommended. Large rats can carry glue traps away or they may urinate and poop all over it once trapped, spreading more germs. Live traps may also expose you to more germs from the rat’s excrement. Supersonic sound devices are not effective.
Rats are very suspicious of new things. It works best if you place bait or attractants on an unset trap for a few days to gain the rats’ trust. Once they begin eating the bait, you can then set the trap using the same bait. Common attractant baits include peanut butter, cheese, bacon, Slim Jims™, other calorie dense foods, or commercially available lures that are designed to be appealing to rats.
Bait snap traps with a small amount of bait/attractant. Place the bait side of the trap against a wall or fence to form a “T” where you know rats are traveling. ONLY PLACE TRAPS IN AREAS WHERE PETS AND CHILDREN CANNOT ACCESS THEM. Instant kill traps (such as snap traps) are recommended and should be placed within a tamper resistant container or away from people or animals to prevent animals or children from injuring themselves.
Use multiple traps at once for best results.
If you kill a rat using a trap, make sure to dispose of the dead rat promptly and safely (see tips below). Some types of traps can be reused.
Applying Rat Poison
USE CAUTION IF YOU USE RAT POISON (RODENTICIDES). Follow all instructions on the label. Remember, the label is the law. You may only apply rodenticides at your own residence unless you are registered with the Ohio Department of Agriculture as a Licensed Commercial Pesticide Applicator. Landlords and commercial property owners should see the “special notes” section below.
If you do not clean up trash or other potential food sources, rats may ignore the poison in favor of those other foods.
Only place rat poison in areas where humans and other animals can’t access them but close to areas where rats are active. Tamper resistant rat boxes are recommended and can usually be found where rat poisons are sold. Monitor the boxes to see if rats pull the poison out so pets do not eat it. If no poison has been eaten after multiple days, move the rat box to a different area.
Rats will die a while after they have eaten the poison. This may mean a rat dies and decomposes in an area you cannot access, leading to bad smells. If the rat dies in the open, another animal may eat it and also be poisoned. Pets or natural predators like hawks or owls may also become poisoned. See tips below for how to safely dispose of dead rats.
Special Note to Landlords/Rental Property Managers
Ohio Revised Code 921 regulates, prohibits and restricts the application or use of pesticides. Property owners and landlords cannot apply any pesticide (rat poison or insecticide) inside or outside of a rental property with four (4) or more units without a Commercial Pesticide Applicators License issued by the Ohio Department of Agriculture with the appropriate category.
Category 10a allows for pesticide applications within structures (both rodents and insects).
Category 7 allows for the outdoor application of pesticides for rodents and other mammals.
This would include pesticides available for consumer use (non-restricted use pesticides), such as the ones sold at home improvement stores. Restricted use pesticides require a license to apply no matter where it is applied, the number of units you own, or the type of property you own. You may still bait these traps with a nontoxic substance to attract rats to them.
Cleaning Up After Rats
Dead rats can still carry many germs and diseases, have ticks, fleas, and mites, or have poison inside their bodies. Dispose of dead rats immediately to limit exposure to these as well as prevent secondary poisoning.
Rats’ poop, urine, and old nesting material can also contain many germs. Their scent may also attract more rodents to the area.
How to clean up safely:
Make sure to wear disposable gloves.
Spray dead rats, droppings, urine, or nesting materials with a disinfectant or mixture of 1 part bleach to 10 parts water to kill all germs.
After 10 minutes, use a shovel or paper towels to place the dead rat, its excrement and nesting materials into a plastic bag.
Tie the plastic bag and consider double bagging it. Place into a secure trashcan or dumpster that you know is emptied frequently.
If found indoors, make sure to clean and sanitize all surfaces a rat may have touched.
If a rat has gotten into food in your pantry, throw out all potentially contaminated or damaged foods. Wash cans so that rat pathogens on the outside of cans are not introduced to food when the can is opened.