Getting rid of rats in a pet-safe way is not just a matter of killing the rats in your home, it's also about preventing them from entering your home in the first place. Rats will reside in your walls, attic and basement, chew through electrical wires and eat your food, and some of the rodents carry diseases. Rat poisons should not be used, not only because of the hazards they pose to pets and children, but also because they will cause the rats to die in hard-to-reach places -- an unpleasant situation that will leave a terrible smell in your home.
Perform a thorough inspection of the inside and outside of your home to look for places where rats may be entering. Rats can squeeze through holes the size of a quarter, so it is important to plug every hole you find, regardless of how small it seems. Blocking holes with steel is a good option, as rats can chew through concrete and many other materials.
Remove firewood, dustbins and bushes that are within 3 feet of your house's foundation. Items that sit against the house provide rats with an ideal hiding place while they search for a way into your home.
Don't leave food out, even for pets. Outdoor pet dishes or birdseed on the lawn provide an excellent lunch for hungry rats, which will come back to your home if they know that they'll find an easy meal. In the home, eliminate crumbs from counters and floors and keep food tightly sealed.
Look for rat "runways," which are routes frequented by rats and distinguishable by a trail of rat faeces and brown hair. Since rats tend to travel on the same path, these are the most effective places to catch live rats.
Bait electric traps with pet food to attract the rats and lure them into a trap where they will be killed instantly by an electric shock.
Wrap dead rats in newspaper or a plastic bag before disposing of them in the trash. Always wear gloves when handling dead rats and wash your hands thoroughly once the disposal is complete.
Snap traps can also be used, but not in areas to which pets have access because the traps can injure your pet's paws, tail or nose. Snap traps should be secured to the ground so that they can't be dragged away by a trapped rat.