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Rat Prevention and Control

Learn about rat prevention and control in and around your home.

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.


  • Larger than mice
  • Can weigh up to 0.5 kg (1 lb)
  • Preferred foods include cereal grains, meat, fish, nuts and some fruits

Inspect your property

Look for the following signs of a rat infestation. Rats can fit through a hole the size of a quarter. Rat proof your home by eliminating potential entry points:

  • Live sightings
  • Chewed or damaged items
  • Droppings
  • Tracks
  • Burrows or holes in the ground around foundations

Rat-proof your home

Rats can fit through a hole the size of a quarter. Rat proof your home by eliminating potential entry points:

  • 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 home less welcoming

Eliminate Food and Water Sources:

  • Remove garbage and compost from inside the home
  • Ensure garbage and green cart lids are tightly secured
  • Use a rodent-proof bin for backyard composters
  • Do not compost fatty or oily foods, 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
  • 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, shed, and garage
  • Keep woodpiles away from the home and raise them 12 inches off the ground

Rat control

You may choose to hire a licensed pest control company due to the challenging nature of rat eradication. A number of physical and chemical control options are available to homeowners.

The safest and most effective method for controlling rat populations is trapping, however a number of chemical products exist as well.

Physical Control

  • Snap traps
  • Electronic traps
  • Live traps
  • Glue traps
  • Ultrasonic devices

Chemical Control

  • Poisoned baits
  • Anticoagulant rodenticides (prevent clotting of blood)
  • Non-anticoagulant poisons

Note: Ultrasonic devices create sound waves that rats dislike. Use these devices in addition to other methods as rats can adapt to them.

Safe cleanup

Always use caution and practice safe cleanup procedures:

  • Open windows for fresh air
  • Wear protective gloves and a dust mask
  • Dampen droppings and debris with a solution of bleach and water before wiping up (never sweep or vacuum dry droppings)
  • 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

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