Skip to main content
WE ARE AN ESSENTIAL SERVICE! Click here to learn more.

How to Get Rid of a Rat Infestation by Yourself

rat in the dark

How to get rid of a rat infestation by yourself?

USA’s most troublesome rodents are the Norway rat and the Roof rat, and services like rat extermination can do wonders for your household once you determine there’s an infestation.

As rats are a very dangerous pest in our area, it’s important that you understand how to recognize an infestation, the damage they can do, and how to get rid of the pest by yourself, in case you have a tighter budget or don’t know any rodent professionals you can trust.

The Damage Caused by Rats and Mice

A mouse in a brown coffee mug tipped over on its sideRats spread diseases through their skin, their bite and their droppings, as well as through the food they eat. They eat and contaminate stored meats, fruits, crackers, nuts, and grains and can transmit murine typhus, leptospirosis, ratbite fever, and salmonellosis (food poisoning).

The plague is also a disease that both the Roof and the Norway rats carry. During the last years, the Center for Disease Control has spotted scattered cases in rural areas from Seattle, California, New Mexico, Southern Colorado, Northern Arizona, Southern Oregon, and Far Western Nevada.

The Diseases Carried by Rats and Mice

Murine typhus, also called jail fever, is transmitted by two types of bacteria: Rickettsia Typhi or Rickettsia prowazekii. It’s usually seen in areas with low hygiene and can be carried by fleas, mites, ticks, other arthropods, and rats. Jail fever includes sustained high fever, severe headache and muscle pains, cough, rash, falling blog pressure, chills, stupor, sensitivity to death, delirium, and death.

Leptospirosis, also known as Weil’s Disease, is caused by the Leptospira bacteria. The symptoms include headaches, muscle pains, fevers, lung bleeding, and meningitis.

And the ratbite fever is passed through rat’s urine or mucous secretions and their bite, it’s a rare disease that includes the following symptoms: sore, rash, chills, headaches, fever, vomiting, and muscle aches.

What is Rat Control?

Rat extermination strategies go along with three different strategies: sanitation measures, population control, and rodent proofing.

Rat inspecting a puddle created by an outside decoration First of all, though, you’ll need to learn to recognize the signs of an infestation. Those are:

  • Burrows around plants or damaged vegetables in the garden
  • Burrows beneath garbage cans
  • Evidence of a rat nest inside your chimney or firewood stack
  • Evidence of rat nest behind drawers or boxes, in the garage, or on the basement
  • Rat droppings around your pet’s dishes or pet food containers
  • Dead rat carcasses around the house (your dog or cat might bring them to you)
  • Drowned rats on your hot tub or swimming pool
  • Noises coming from the attic during the evening
  • Fruits and nuts falling from the trees around the house or found bitten indoors
  • Stain marks along fences and utility lines
  • Smudge marks on rafters, walls, and pipes (rats cause them when they rub their fur against beams)
  • Mouse droppings around the house, especially around or inside your garbage cans and recycle bins


Sanitation is about getting rid of rat’s shelters and food sources. You’ll neat to neat off-the-ground storage pipes, firewood, lumber, crates, gardening equipment, boxes, and other household spaces that are dark, moist, and close to food sources.

You’ll also need to empty your garbage and recycle bins regularly and check for outdoor burrows near your trash and garden debris. Ensure all garbage and water receptacles have tight covers, and that your dogs and cats eat outside. Your pet’s food must also be tightly sealed.

For roof rats, you’ll need to lawn your garden regularly and trim the three branches, as well as separate dense plants from one another by a distance of 2 feet or more to make it difficult to roof rats to jump from one tree to another.

Building a Rodent Proof House

Mouse poking its head out from a home's gutterThe second step is for the long-term. You’ll need to seal cracks and openings in the foundations of your house, pipes, doors, windows, drain spouts, electric wires, and vents.

There should be no hole larger than ¼’ if you want to keep rats and mice outside. Your doors, windows, screens, and chimneys should also be sealed, with the edges covered with sheet metal.

Materials like wire screen, coarse steel wool, and lightweight sheet metal can plug gaps and holes very efficiently. Both Norway and Roof rats will gnaw away wood, plastic sheeting,

Population Control

When rats find food, water and shelter their population increase rapidly. If you see this is the case in your household, please refer to a rat extermination company so they can perform advanced services like crawlspace cleanup and use potent pesticides near the burrows and nests.

You can still use traps to control rats indoors. If you use rodenticides (toxic baits), place them in inaccessible locations as within walls, inside pipes, and ceilings. Remember that the smell of a dead rat is very strong and you will need to cut a hole in the wall to remove the carcass.

Glue boards and live-catch traps

Finally, glue boards are not a very effective way of getting rid of the rats. It’s a common misconception that these will be your main weapons against the pest, however, they work better against mice. Rats caught in glue traps can escape in about an hour, often dragging the trap with them as they flee.

When do you know it's time to deal with a rat infestation?

As soon as you spot evidence of rats or mice in your house, it's time to take action. Rodents breed fast, and a population can grow extremely large in a short period of time. Also, you don't want to leave yourself or your family members exposed to the disease-ridden waste or hidden urine trails that rats leave behind. The more exposure to rat germs, the more likely you may suffer ill health effects. Even if you've never seen a live rat or mouse, you may have a serious problem.

When do you know it's time to call a professional rat exterminator?

It may be time to reach out for help. It may seem easy to save money by performing rat control yourself, but at what price do you put your own health and safety? If you don't have the necessary protective clothing and respirator to keep you safe from infectious diseases carried in the dust of rat urine, feces and saliva, please consider hiring a professional. If you are uncomfortable in the tight, dirty crawl spaces beneath your house, it would be best to have a professional rodent control technician carefully inspect your home. If you aren't sure which poisons, baits or traps are best to use, it might be best to rely on experienced professionals. If you need help, Eastside Exterminators will protect you like family. We have proudly served the greater Seattle area for 50 years and we are passionate about protecting families.

The first step in getting rid of rats is being able to identify an infestation

Call us today!