Rats can spread disease and cause damage to materials, foodstuffs and structures by gnawing and burrowing. The most common species found in the UK, is the brown or common rat, which will seek any environment that provides it with warmth, food and shelter.

In homes, they can live in loft spaces, cavity walls, under floorboards and in public sewers, which when become damaged allow the rat entry to your property.

Signs of rats

  • Droppings which look cigar shaped
  • Damage to structures, pipes and electrical cables from their gnawing
  • Noises behind walls and in lofts
  • Holes in the garden which provide entry to their burrows
  • Smears on surfaces from where the rats can be running over time

You can reduce the chance of rats in your home:

  • Repair any gaps beneath external doors by adding new draught excluders
  • Holes around pipes which can be filled with wire wool and expanding foam or cement
  • Damaged or broken air vents can be replaced with new mesh, although do not block them
  • Keep your house clean to avoid infestations
  • Prevent your pet’s food source becoming an attraction by cleaning up and disposing of any discarded food
  • Any outdoor pets, such as chickens, should have their food secured in containers and kept off the ground
  • Remove any rubbish and collections of old materials (e.g. carpets) from inside or outside your property and dispose of them promptly
  • Cut back trees and climbing plants so they don’t enter your property through the roof space
  • Untidy gardens can provide a perfect living environment for the rats, especially if there is a food source nearby
  • Compost bins also attract rats; place it on a wire base, replace any broken compost bins as they can provide a good home
  • Bird feeding can also contribute to rat infestations.  To reduce the attraction of your bird feeders; use suspended wire feeders with trays to catch any waste food, do not put food directly onto the ground and only put out a small amount of food a day.

Control measures

The type of control measure used will depend on the size of the infestation, risks to other humans, pets and animals and the resources available.


Put baited break back traps next to walls, where rats run, and bait with sweet or fish based products such as peanut butter or caramel as they work best. You will need to check the traps daily and be able to dispose of any dead rats within them.

Rats can be bagged and placed within your grey wheelie bin (do not handle them without gloves). Caged traps can be used, but you will have to dispose of the live rat within it.

Poisons such as rodenticides can be bought from supermarkets and garden centres. Place the poison in safe areas where rats have been seen and should be checked and replenished every few days until now more is taken. If after a few weeks the poison is still being taken, you will need to contact a professional pest contractor.