I knew there were rats in my neighborhood. I had no idea how bad the problem was, until I took my car to the shop this week and was informed that the electrical problem I was experiencing was caused by rats chewing on the insulation surrounding the wires inside the car.

Rats! Crawling into my car! Holy Disgusto! I hate rats with a passion. I went through all the crawlspaces of my house last night, looking for rat evidence to make sure they weren’t inside (they apparently aren’t.) I put poison all over the place just to be sure, but how the heck do I keep them out of my yard? (I park outside.) The mechanic cheerfully told me to get some rat traps, but that strikes me as being about as effective as crossing my fingers and hoping they’ll go away. I know that placing a statue of an owl on your roof will frighten pigeons and discourage them from landing, is there a similar trick for rats? Like spreading coyote pee or posting a picture of Dick Cheney on the lawn? How do I get rid of the little pests?

I searched for an existing thread on this but came up dry. Perhaps a more gifted searcher can point some out. (Surely I’m not the only person to have asked this question.)

Did you know that rats can’t throw up.

I would try cleaning up the area. Making sure trash cans have secure lids and maybe get a cat.

Um, if you get a cat, make sure you put the rat poison where it can’t reach the stuff. Most cats are smart enough to avoid the stuff, but some unfortunately are not.
Here’s a pleasant story: When I was young my parents bought a really old fixer-upper house and decided to replace the tiny poorly-built kitchen that had been added on at the turn of the century. When we breached the walls (sledgehammers are fun!), several foot-long dessicated rat corpses fell out. They were all contorted and twisted and they rattled when you shook them! True story!
Maybe this is the solution to your problem. I don’t know how smart they are, but if a few abstract-expressionist rat maracas displayed menacingly outside your home don’t scare the vermin off, nothing will.

I considered a cat, but the fact is, there are several neighborhood cats running around, and they obviously aren’t doing the job. One of my neighbors has two cats and a dog, and it didn’t stop a rat from living behind her refrigerator for a week. These are pretty big rats, I guess.

Surely someone on the SDMB has some insight here…

Don’t be so sure they’re not inside your house. Carry a blacklight through it with the lights off. Rats are incontinent so if they’ve been through you’ll see their piss glowing like a light bulb.

Cats and rat poison are a bad mix. You don’t want your cat eating a rat that has eaten poison.

i am reading “rats” right now. a very interesting book about the life of rats in nyc.

here is what one nyc exterminator does. he uses shrimp, hershey bars, nuts, anchovies, and beer. the beer works because they can’t throw up, as zebra mentioned. he sticks the food items to glue traps, and viola! problem solved… (the beer goes in shallow containers not glued to the traps.)

good luck!

The object is to make the rats leave for greener pastures, as it were. Since rats are attracted to a neighborhood or home by certain specific things, here are some suggestions that will make your home and neighborhood less desirable for rats to stick around in…
[ul][li]Make sure your garbage cans have well-fitted lids that shut tightly.[/li][li]Clean up any dog and/or bird feces, as rats are quite fond of both.[/li][li]Stop feeding wild birds unless your feeder is on a pole with a tray, far from any tree a rat can jump from, and you take care to clean up any and all seeds that drop to the ground.[/li][li]Remove any ivies or other types of ground cover that rats like to nest in.[/li][li]Cut trees and shrubs at least 3 feet away from your house (especially trees that are taller than the roof line).[/li][li]If you have firewood stacked on the ground outside, elevate it at least 18" off the ground and away from your house.[/li][*]Ask your nearest neighbors to take the same precautions around their homes, as well.[/ul] I wish you luck, because you really don’t want to be forced to resolve your rat problem the way we were – by having to move!

Thanks for the suggestions! I guess I know how I’m spending my weekend.

I got home tonight and I actually saw one of the little monsters running down one of my shrubs. I haven’t seen one around here in a couple years, just evidence. So I took a plastic milk jug, cut a hole in the side big enough for a rat but too small for a neighborhood cat. I poured in some poison pellets, and then a healthy slug of Guinness over the pellets, and left it right by the base of the shrub. Call it a goodbye present. Time to go back to Disneyland, Mickey! I’ll post back results. Keep sending in ideas, if more occur to you, please. The black light one is something I’m definitely going to try.

The beer seemed to do the trick all right. The milk jug poison contraption I described in my last post has clearly been a popular rest stop for the local raterati, with more poison pellets missing each day. I learned a while back that the poison pellets by themselves aren’t interesting to rats, they just ignore it (and chew the wires in my car instead, the little pests!) but poison with a beer dressing? A treat no rat can ignore! Say goodbye, vermin!

I haven’t had a chance to try the black light thing yet.

Rats love ivy. If you have ivy either trim it way the hell back or get rid of it.