repelling rats

I have rats in my house. Eight inch long rats. Plus the tail…

I just bought the house two months ago. It’s old and dilapidated and it will be years before I have all the holes patched. And the area I live in is so wet, that my sump pump in the basement runs practically full time. So I’ve got a nice, warm, damp place for rats to live, with countless points of entry. I’ve got an organic farm behind me and a dairy barn just across the road. I fear I could keep emptying rat tracks for the rest of my life and never get rid of them.

So I’m wondering, is there any way to make a place like this unappealing? Would a cat do anything to dissuade 8" rats? The one I caught weighed more than some cats I know. What about a rat terrier? I’m not actually expecting the animals to catch the rats – I’m just wondering if some cats and dogs in the house would dissuade the rats from entering.

I’ve also read that rats really don’t like surprises, but that they get used to things like electronic repellents. Does anybody know what results I might achieve with motion sensors and lights? Little robots that randomly roam the floors?

I lived in a house that had rats. We had a dog, too, a border collie mix. I once took her collar and pointed her at a long pink tail disappearing behind the kitchen sink; she merely wagged her tail apologetically at me.

And the presence of a dog in the house didn’t seem to faze the rats. They continued gnawing away in the walls at night.

What slowed them down were a couple of business-like rat traps up in the attic, and mass quantities of rat poison blocks tossed into the crawlspace under the house (Texas house, no basement, just a crawlspace accessible from outside the house.)

I also suggest you consult your county health department, as they always take a professional interest in local rat populations, and it’s possible that your neighbors are doing something actionable that’s contributing to your problem. The Health Department also almost certainly has a Rat Control person on staff (most municipalities do, although they don’t like to talk about it on Oprah), who can come out to your house and give you tips on how to close up your entry points.

Rats aren’t intrinsically attracted to warm, damp places–what they’re attracted to is food. And your neighboring farmers may be spilling enough grain or Purina Animal Chow to support a healthy rat population, the overflow of which is checking out your house as potential living quarters. Make sure your garbage cans have really tight-fitting lids.

There are dogs that are predisposed to eliminate rats, especially smaller terriers such as Jack Russels. You’d need to check out each breed to see whether they would suit your needs, of course, but I would think that would be a good option.

Definitely second the Jack Russell terrier, those little barstids will tear a rat right up, and they’ll run into tiny spaces underground to do it. Big boy cats like Maine Coons and Skogkats also mess up rats like it ain’t no thing. Around here the Malemute takes care of the suckers but that’s a little further than most people want to go–there’s a point where the solution becomes more problematical than the original problem! :stuck_out_tongue:

If the infestation is as bad as you say, my suggestion is a professional exterminator. I believe you may be pleasantly surprised at the cost. Once he is done, ask him what needs to be done to prevent their return.

Just for a second I flashed on wilderness rats with cleted shoes, helmets, ropes, and white teeth repelling down a cliff in New Mexico…

You’ve seen 8 inch long ones, you may have bigger. Food is the big draw, then shelter. Any food is attractant, and your neighbors have plenty if you don’t. Your house is a shelter as is wood piles, and your neighbors buildings. Rats have to be tackled by everybody at the same time, or they will still be around. Remember to go get rabies shots if you get bitten, and don’t breath in the dust contaminated by rat feces it’s dangerous. You should call in an exterminator, and maybe the county officials depending on what the exterminator tells you. It will be easier to deal with them if you don’t have an animal around at the time, and safer. Do not bring an animal into the household until they have finished their rabies shots and they have had enough time to take. You may be able to find somebody that has a good rat killing dog to lone out. Farmers used to lend pest control animals to neighbors and relatives to clean out infestations of different vermin.

Don’t count on a pampered dogs to kill rats. I’ve seen dogs that would, but they aren’t the pampered ones. We had a rodent killing husky, that would dig out moles and kill even muskrats it could reach. My brother’s Miniature Shar Pei liked to dig and take out rodents. He was a reject because he was a couple inches taller than allowed for pure breeds.They are a breed you may have medical problems with. You can’t pick them up, and they have a dense body mass. They can not swim. They lay down on their side with the legs straight out in the air. It’s comical to see. It’s the dog I liked the most, and it had lot’s of entertainment value. It was also the most destructive, because it liked to dig, so was hell on the carpets if you went away. He also had to deal with broken teeth, because it tried to bite trough stuff all the time, like rocks and sticks when outside with it. It would have probably dug up your whole basement in a month and killed all the rats.

go to the nearest school with a signboard above your head -

" ! "

when the kids come round, explain the situation then hand them a wooden sword and say you’ll reward them a copper piece for every rat tail they find.

Another vote for professional exterminator.

I’ve heard that a ferret will clear all the rats out of a place, but I can’t vouch for it.

I really appreciate all the advice.

I’ve only actually seen one, and that was dead in a trap I set. Previous to that, I knew about them because they woke me up one night getting into my food (the food is now inaccessible). They left dirt and food wrappers under the old kitchen sink, but that’s the only other evidence I’ve actually found of them.

This morning though, the soft little cloth I use to clean my computer screen was missing, and that’s not something I would have moved, which makes me wonder if it’s in a next somewhere, now.

I understand the importance of blocking holes, but at this point I don’t even have a sink in my kitchen or a door to my basement. I’m sure an exterminator could make a list of hundreds of entry points.

I’m also really not sure if they’re actually living here, or just stopping in regularly. Or maybe that’s just wishful thinking on my part! :slight_smile:

I was looking at an “adoption” site for terriers. They want to come inspect your house before they’ll let you have one! Good Lord… “That’s not a rat pit – that’s my basement!”

Info found while googling randomly for “rat control pennsylvania”.

List O’ Links.

Interesting .doc to read.

Gimme a rough geographic location and I’ll be happy to narrow it down some more.

I hate to ask but…

Why did you buy such a crappy sounding house?

Dear Straight Dope,

I now have ferrets in my house. 14 inch long ferrets. Plus the tail…

Well, that’s when you bring in the wolverines.

It’s known as a “handyman’s delight” in the realtor trade. It means a falling-down house that you put “sweat equity” into–you fix it up yourself–and are able, theoretically at least, to resell it at a handsome profit.

Or maybe he’s homesteading. Or maybe he just wanted to buy a house, and this is what was available for the down payment he could afford.

Or maybe it’s got delightful carpenter’s gothic scrollwork all over the porch and he fell in love, or maybe it’s on a desireable bus route, or maybe the property’s just been rezoned for a Wal-Mart next door, and he bought it cheap and is expecting to camp on it for a year and then make a handsome profit, or maybe he was the last one at the bedside of the dying old miser in the nursing home and he knows there’s buried treasure somewhere on the property.

Or maybe the Elder Gods just made him do it…

I can think of lots of reasons why someone would buy a crappy sounding house.

Slight hi-jack: my wife insists that mice will not share the same space with mice. Personally I think the mice might be a little put out with the presence of rats, but no, she insists rats will leave if mice are around. Not that I’m suggesting supplanting one group of rodents with another, it just seemed like a good place to pose this question. Anyone?


Well for his sake, I hope it’s one of those reasons. :stuck_out_tongue:

I charge by the hour and get every second Friday off. Can I keep the ferrets?

It’s a big house in a nice area and it’ll be really nice when it’s fixed up. And I could afford it without a mortgage.

Thanks, Duck Duck Goose. I read through the links and everything seems to imply it’s hopeless without securing the holes. Disappointing. I’m in the Harrisburg area.

I’m very curious to hear if this is the case. I’d import mice in a heartbeat. It’d be ironic if mice could keeps rats out while dogs and cat’s couldn’t, though.

Sanders, I’ll make you a deal. You can have all the mice we’ve been finding in our house this past week. How’s that?

I spoke with our exterminator today and he said, aside from poison baited traps, the standard trap is pretty much all they use. We have a dog so poison in the house isn’t an option. We have no clue where they’re coming in from (and aren’t mice able to squeeze through really tiny holes?) and our house is only four years old.

Has anyone had any luck with ridding themselves of rodent infestations? If so, how? We keep a really clean home, food and garbage isn’t left out and the dog’s food is keep in a tight, plastic container. It really skeeves me out to know I’ve got those little bastards running around the house, leaving their little mice shit everywhere.