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Three New (Non-toxic) Ways to Eliminate Rats

  • Brett Jordan, Unsplash
    Brett Jordan, Unsplash
    Rats are notoriously difficult to eradicate. They're smart, tenacious, and they reproduce quickly. Even when you've done everything you can to make your home and garden unfriendly to rats, they often find ways to sneak in. Common methods for managing rats include traps, inviting natural predators, and using toxic baits. Unfortunately, these baits can inadvertently injure or kill other animals, including cats, dogs, owls, hawks, and other predators. Fortunately, there are new methods that are non-toxic and effective.

    • See below for three new, effective methods to eliminate rats.
    • Learn more about these and other strategies to manage rats.
    • Watch a video that explains rat prevention and management in detail.


    Eco-friendlier bait

    Not all baits are created equal. One type is composed of cereal (corn gluten) and salt (sodium chloride) in pellet form. Rats feed on this "food," which disrupts their digestion and ultimately causes them to dehydrate and die in approximately three to five days. For this kind of bait to be effective, it must be the only food they consume. If they eat other food, the concentration may not be high enough to take effect. For that reason, it is important that you make sure there are no other food sources available. This can be a challenge, especially outdoors. This kind of bait may be better suited for rat issues in garages or other enclosed structures.

    This bait is available at hardware stores. It can be used indoors or out and is safe for adults, children, pets, and wildlife. It is also biodegradable and will not contaminate food crops. Be aware that rats that have consumed this bait may appear somewhat lethargic. And, of course, once they've died you will need to dispose of their corpses.


    A better mouse (and rat) trap

    Although it's more expensive than the typical rat trap, a new carbon dioxide-powered trap kills rats instantly and then automatically resets itself. This weatherproof trap comes with a CO2 cartridge and non-toxic lure that lasts up to six months. This allows you to use and re-use the trap for months without handling it. It also encourages the rats to get comfortable with the trap's presence instead of fearing or avoiding it. The lure attracts rats into the canister of the trap, which trips a trigger and instantly kills the rodent and then resets itself for the next visitor. Because the rat is killed quickly, it is considered humane. This trap is available at hardware stores.


    Bury the burrowers

    Rats can build extensive underground tunnels and nests.  Photo courtesy UC Regents
    Rats can build extensive underground tunnels and nests. Photo courtesy UC Regents
    Burrowing rats can be challenging, creating underground tunnels and nests in the garden that can extend under the house and other structures and have multiple openings. This creates a difficult situation. One solution is to insert carbon monoxide into the burrow, a colorless and odorless gas that reduces the rats’ oxygen supply and kills them in a few minutes. One benefit of this method is that the rats decompose out of sight underground. Carbon monoxide applications should be administered by a licensed pest control professional.