How to Get Rid of Pack Rats

Sharing the sacred space of your home with a horde of pack rats is not a fun situation to find yourself in.

It takes know-how and perseverance to get rid of pack rats. You must be authoritative, strong, and crafty in your method. 

Below, we will discuss everything you need to know in order to learn how to take your home back and successfully get rid of pack rats.

Gather Information On The Location Of The Pack Rats

When it comes to getting rid of pack rats, also known as woodrats, the first thing that must be done is to find out where they may be hiding out at. If we treat this as warfare, we must first be aware of the enemies weaknesses, as well as their motives.

Something in your home or on your property may have attracted them specifically, such as food, water, warmth or shelter. My first encounter with these pests was them vandalizing our pig feed (and getting literally fat as hogs while doing it!).

So, not only are housing them, you may be further enabling them then you are even aware. Do you keep dog food or cat food? Or perhaps some sort of feed for livestock? If so, these are among the first places rats go for easy to access food. The same goes for access to water left out for livestock and pets.

At any rate, to find out where the rats are hiding, and make them want to leave, you need to:

  • Identify where the pack rats are nesting or otherwise temporarily residing (droppings and gnaw marks are usually a good clue)
  • Isolate anything that could be used by the rodents as sustenance (water from leaky pipes, crumbs, open cabinets)
  • Cordon off any entry-holes and areas such as kitchens and bathrooms

Launch A Multi-pronged Attack The Rats

After you’ve gathered enough information, such as where the pack rats are eating, drinking, and sleeping, as well as their main routes of travel, it’s time to start working on getting rid of them. That said, rats are not stupid. Merely setting out rodenticides and traps won’t wipe out the entire population of pack rats.

Here are some basic steps to combat the rat pack infesting your property:

1. Skillfully place traps

Once you know where the furry little pests are hiding, and frequenting for food and drink, place plenty of traps in their path. You’ll need to be creative and do your best to hide them in corners, under or in front of rat-entry-holes, and near food and water sources (think under kitchen counter and bathroom vanities). 

The higher number of traps you use, and various types of traps, the better. You never know exactly how many rats are in the pack disturbing your home. If you can get a few traps outside, and in crawl spaces under the house as well, this will go a long way in cutting down the pack rats numbers.

2. Use a mixture of bait and real food

Rats have a great sense of smell, which is why certain baits work so well against them. When traveling, they use their whiskers to move through the dark, running along walls and edges. Sometimes you can see the visible signs of their traffic in the form of grease marks. 

Placing baited traps in these areas which rats are traversing the most will increase your chances at catching larger numbers of them. That said, mixing real food with rat bait seems to increase your chances of a successful kill/trap as well.

3. Check and replace traps daily

It can’t be stressed enough that rats are far from stupid. Regardless of how hungry or thirsty they may be, and how enticing the fresh bait smells, if they witness a rat being killed in a specific location, they will avoid that trap and location. The same goes for rats who happen upon a spent trap with a dead or dying rat caught inside of it. 

For these reasons, it is crucial to check and reset, possibly even clean, each of your live rat traps daily. If your infestation is genuinely a bad one, you may even need to check the traps multiple times per day.

4. Follow up with non-lethal alternatives

Traps, whether ones that kill, or more humane versions, as well as bait, are far from the only methods for getting rid of pack rats. Baking soda, black pepper, and other natural remedies exist as well. Not only do these natural remedies supposedly work as well as poison and lethal traps, but they are much cheaper, cleaner, and safer too. 

In addition to being used as primary methods of pest control, these natural alternatives to poisons and baits can also be used for preventative measures. Simply keeping black pepper sprinkled around your foundations, behind your counters, and in your crawl spaces, for example, can practically single handedly prevent rats from even attempting to explore your home for food, shelter, or water.

An Ounce Of Prevention Is Worth A Pound Of Cure

If you are lucky enough to have never experienced an infestation of pack rats, it does not necessarily mean that you won’t encounter them in the future. Especially if you they are common in your neck of the woods.

Here are a few pieces of advice for preventing rat packs from taking up residence in your home:

  • Keep traps active indoors and outdoors, if safe to do so, all year round (even after signs of the pack disappear).
  • Rats can and will use tree branches to gain access to your home if at all possible, so keep your trees and shrubs trimmed.
  • Regularly check and clear traps of dead mice, and re-bait and reset them
  • Keep your garden tidy, leaving less place for rodents to hide and flourish 
  • Leave black pepper sprinkled around the edges of your homes’ foundations and crawl spaces

Stay Safe While Combating Your Rat Infestation

Handling these pests, dead or alive, is risky business as they can be a carrier for all sorts of diseases or other small scale icky bacteria. That said, it is a job that must be done. If not by you, than by a professional or unfortunate family member (like your husband or father-in-law!). There is no way around it if you want to free yourself of the rat pack. However, it must be done with the utmost care.

So to be sure your safe:

  • Wear rubber gloves when disposing of rodent 
  • Spray with disinfectant or bleach and water mix (if dead)
  • Place both rat and all potentially soiled objects in a suitable plastic bag
  • Place in a second bag
  • Wash hands and dispose of bag in appropriate trash container
  • If alive, take far away into the wilderness (not your neighbor’s land, no matter how much you hate him)

Final Thoughts

Being well-informed and making an educated attack is your best chance to free your home from a full-out pack rat infestation. Keep in mind that this is not a battle that must be fought alone. The more family members, and possibly more importantly, neighbors, that you get involved, the better chances you have of driving these pests from the greater area as well. 

If all your efforts fail in ridding your home of pack rats, there are plenty of professional exterminators who will gladly eradicate your problem for a fee. Lastly, remember to practice prevention once your home is finally rid of rats. The last thing you want is to have to repeat the process anytime soon (if ever).

Jordan Quinn Farkas
Jordan Quinn Farkas
Jordan is a full-time writer from his home in Southeast Europe. An avid outdoors-man and backpacker, he has gathered a plethora of tips and tricks for dealing with all sorts of pests.

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