Pests in Gardens and Landscapes: Quick Tips

Rats

Published   2/10

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Roof rats favor attics, trees and aboveground locations.

Roof rats favor attics, trees and aboveground locations.

Norway rats favor basements, woodpiles and the ground floor of buildings

Norway rats favor basements, woodpiles and the ground floor of buildings

Norway rats are stockier than roof rats and have smaller ears.

Norway rats are stockier than roof rats and have smaller ears.

Rats are some of the most troublesome and damaging rodents. They eat and contaminate food, garden produce, and fruit, and transmit diseases to humans and pets. Manage rats by removing food and shelter, eliminating entryways into buildings, and trapping.

Indications of a rat infestation.

  • Rat droppings in garages, storage buildings, or attics, or around pet food containers.
  • Rodent feeding damage on tree fruit or nuts in your yard.
  • Rat nests behind boxes, in garage drawers, or in woodpiles.
  • Burrows beneath garbage cans and compost piles or among garden plants.
  • Rats traveling along utility lines or on fence tops at dusk.

Is it a Norway rat or a roof rat?

  • The stocky Norway rat builds burrows along building foundations, beneath rubbish, or in woodpiles. Indoors they tend to remain in basements or on the ground floor.
  • Roof rats are agile climbers with a tail longer than their head and body. They usually live and nest above ground in shrubs, trees, or dense vegetation. Indoors they favor attic spaces, walls, false ceilings, and cabinets.

To get rid of rats, remove food, water, and shelter, and seal entryways!

  • Feed pets only the amount of food they will eat at a single feeding.
  • Keep garbage, trash, and garden debris in receptacles with tight-fitting lids.
  • Thin dense vegetation and create at least a 2-foot space between each shrub as well as between shrubs and buildings.
  • Thin or remove climbing hedges from buildings.
  • Remove tree limbs that are within 3 feet of a roof.
  • Seal all cracks and openings in the house’s foundation that are larger than ¼ inch.
  • Make sure doors, windows, and screens fit tightly.

Remove rats from the home by trapping

  • Snap traps are the safest, most effective, and most economical way to trap rats.
  • For Norway rats, place traps close to walls, behind objects, in dark corners, and in places where you have found rat droppings.
  • For roof rats, place traps in off-the-ground locations such as ledges, shelves, branches, fences, pipes, or overhead beams.

What about baits?

  • Avoid using baits indoors, because dead rats create bad odors.
  • Seal buildings before baiting outside to prevent poisoned rats from coming inside to die.
  • Place baits in tamper-proof bait stations and secure them from children and pets.
  • All rodent baits are toxic to pets.

Read more about Rats.

Minimize the use of pesticides that pollute our waterways. Use nonchemical alternatives or less toxic pesticide products whenever possible. Read product labels carefully and follow instructions on proper use, storage, and disposal.


Statewide IPM Program, Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California
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