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Rat Prevention & Control

Urban areas provide excellent habitats for rats to survive. Rats are usually active at night and generally avoid contact with people. They prefer damp environments and often burrow and nest underground near building foundations, in garbage and in wood piles.

Rats are carriers of disease, and health concerns can arise when they enter living spaces. In Ontario, it is most likely that a person would become ill from an infected rat as a result of ingesting food or water that has been contaminated by rat urine or droppings.


Rats are larger than mice and can weigh up to 0.5 kg (1 lb). They eat a wide variety of foods but prefer cereal grains, meats, fish, nuts, and some fruits.

The Norway rat is commonly found in Halton Region.

Inspect Your Property

Signs of a rat problem include:

  • live sightings
  • chewed or damaged items
  • droppings
  • tracks
  • burrows or holes in the ground around foundations

Take immediate action if you suspect a rat problem - a few rats can quickly become an infestation.

Rat-Proof Your Home

Eliminate Entry Points (rats can enter through a quarter-sized hole)

  • Fix cracks in the foundation.
  • Use metal weather stripping under doors.
  • Stuff steel wool around pipes before caulking or plastering.
  • Cover dryer vents, attic vents or soffits with fine mesh metal screening.

Make Your Property Less Welcoming

Eliminate Food and Water Sources

  • Frequently remove garbage and compost from inside the home and ensure that garbage and green cart lids are tight-fitting.
  • Use a rodent-proof bin for backyard composters and do not compost fatty or oily food waste, eggs, or milk products. 
  • Clean up spilled seeds under bird feeders.
  • Remove your bird feeder if you have a rodent problem.
  • Eliminate water sources such as leaky taps, bird baths and standing water.
  • Keep your kitchen clean and store dry food and pet food in sealed containers.

Eliminate Shelter and Nesting Sites

  • Cut tall grass and weeds back from your home.
  • Remove clutter from around the home and inside the shed and garage.
  • Locate woodpiles away from the home and raise them about 30 cm (12 in) from the ground.

Rat Control

Rat control can be challenging and you may choose to hire a licensed pest control company. A number of physical and chemical control options are available to homeowners.

Physical Control

Trapping is the safest and most effective method for controlling rats in and around a home. Several types of traps are available that can be used with or without bait, including snap traps, electronic traps, live traps, and glue traps.

Tips for choosing and using traps:

  • Some traps can injure other animals and children; choose an appropriate trap for the location.
  • Consider what you will do with the trapped animal. Snap traps and electronic traps usually kill the animal instantly.
  • Follow the product label for use.
  • Use strong-smelling foods like peanut butter, bacon and hot dogs for bait.
  • Locate traps close to walls in areas where rat activity is evident; ideally between their burrows and food sources.
  • Allow rats to become comfortable taking bait from the traps. Bait the traps for 3 to 4 days before setting them.
  • Check traps daily and change bait often.

Ultrasonic Devices

These devices create sound waves or vibrations that rats dislike. Ultrasonic devices should be used along with other control methods because rats can adapt to them.

Chemical Control

A number of chemical products are available to control rats including poisoned baits, anticoagulant rodenticides (which prevent the clotting of blood) and non-anticoagulant poisons.

Tips for choosing and using chemical control products:

  • Choose products that have a Pest Control Product (PCP) number on the product label, as they are approved by Health Canada.
  • Read the label directions and safety precautions and use only as directed.
  • Use and store rodenticides away from food and out of reach of children, pets and other wildlife.
  • Use a closed bait station with rodenticides. Never scatter poison bait over the ground or inside a building.
  • Consider that some rodenticides may not kill rats instantly and they could die in areas accessible to children or other animals, or in difficult to reach places such as within walls.
  • Drop off unused or partially used pesticide products at the Household Hazardous Waste Depot.

Safe Cleanup

Use caution in areas where rodents are active and practice safe cleanup procedures:

  • Open windows to allow fresh air to enter the area.
  • Wear protective gloves and a dust mask.
  • Never sweep or vacuum dry droppings. Dampen the droppings and debris with a solution of bleach and water before wiping up.
  • Double bag dead rats in plastic bags before placing them in the garbage.
  • Disinfect items and surfaces that may have been in contact with rats and their droppings.
  • Wash hands and exposed clothing thoroughly after cleanup.

Related Pages

This web page was developed using content from Health Canada’s Rats and Mice (external link) webpage.