How to kill brown rats

Updated November 21, 2016

Brown rats, also known as Norway or sewer rats, can wreak havoc on your home and health. According to the University of Michigan Museum of Zoology, brown rats cause considerable damage to property, such as crops, stored food and the insides and outsides of buildings. They also harbour lice and fleas that carry bubonic plague, typhus, trichinosis, tularaemia and infectious jaundice. Consider killing brown rats on your property with store-brand traps.

Bait the snap traps with an appetizing food. The University of Illinois Integrated Pest Management Extension recommends baiting the snap traps with peanut butter or a small piece of hot dog, bacon or nutmeat for maximum success.

Place the snap traps behind objects, in corners, along walls and in areas where you've noticed recent brown rat activity on your property. The University of Illinois Integrated Pest Management Extension recommends placing the snap trap close to a wall, so that the rat will pass directly over the trigger during travel.

Check each snap trap multiple times per day. Mice are most active at night, so check the snap traps during that specific time frame frequently.

Pull sanitary gloves onto your hands and pick up all snap traps containing brown rats. Place the traps into a secure plastic bag. Dispose of the bag by burying it or throwing it in your trash.

Place additional snap traps around your home or yard until all brown rats are killed or removed from your property.


Avoid using toxic poisons to kill brown rats as the rodent could travel behind a hard-to-reach area, such as a wall, and die and cause a foul odour as a result. Also, avoid using glue traps to kill brown rats as they are inhumane and cause the rodent to suffer a horrible death by dehydration or starvation. Bait the snap traps, but leave them unset for a few days to prevent the brown rats from becoming frightened or spooked by the traps. According to the University of Illinois Integrated Pest Management Extension, leaving traps unset until the bait has been taken at least once reduces the chances of rats becoming trap-shy. Consider sealing or closing all small holes or openings around your home with steel mesh wire or caulking to prevent the rodents from re-entering and reinfesting your property.


If you have a severe infestation of brown rats, you may have to call in a professional exterminator to rid the pests from your property.

Things You'll Need

  • Snap traps
  • Peanut butter/ hot dog/ bacon/ nutmeat
  • Sanitary gloves
  • Plastic bags
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About the Author

Brittany Tucker began a freelance writing career in 2008. She specializes in home and garden topics, and her work has appeared on a variety of websites. Tucker studied English literature at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College.