Where humans go, rats generally follow. This often uneasy relationship has been going since time immemorial, often leading to catastrophe for us humans. The Black Death that ravaged Britain and Europe in the 14th century was spread by fleas hitching rides on rats and they continue to spread disease to this day. Nip their advance in the bud by taking some simple precautions.
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Rats thrive around humans because of the mess we create. You must keep all your household waste in sealed containers – inside and outside – to limit the attraction to rats. The unfinished food in the bowls of household pets can lure rats in too, so empty any leftovers after your pets eat.
Getting rid of clutter like cardboard boxes, wood and paper can deny rats the opportunity to build a comfy home. They can gnaw and chew their way through a surprising number of strong materials to gain entry to homes and garages, then use old blankets, pillows and other fabrics to furnish their new home. Clean up overgrown gardens too, and all their accompanying debris.
Look carefully around the outside of your house for any cracks, gaps and holes where a rat – or mouse – could gain entry. It only has to be a very small gap to allow a rodent in, so fill in gaps around pipes, cracks in brickwork and tiles, and cover vents. Watch out for branches that go too close to your roof – they may allow rats onto, and eventually into, your roof.
If you have a distinct problem with rats you will probably want to use traps – either the lethal or humane kind. There are all manner of varieties out there, but whatever traps you use, check them regularly and dispose of any contents. Traps will get rid of individuals, but should be used with the above deterrents so as to deny them food and shelter. You can use them inside, along walls and in the loft, and outside.
Poison should only be used outside and in areas where children and other animals are unable to get to it. It may take a while to kill any rats about, and there are reports that rats are becoming immune to poison.