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Keeping your home rat-free this dry season

By Maria Diamond
15 January 2022   |   3:29 am
If there is any time that rats flood the house, it is in dry seasons like this. Rat is one pest you do not want to entertain in your home and other interior spaces as this rodent is not only detrimental to your environmental hygiene but also your health...

If there is any time that rats flood the house, it is in dry seasons like this. Rat is one pest you do not want to entertain in your home and other interior spaces as this rodent is not only detrimental to your environmental hygiene but also your health as it causes deadly diseases such as Lassa Hemorrhagic Fever (LHF), Hantavirus, Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis Virus (LCMV), Plague, Salmonella, Rat bite fever and Tularemia.

Why rats are more active in dry season
In as much as rats mate and reproduce all through the seasons, the dry season is their favourite, as they get the liberty to occupy new areas and settle for longer periods of time. Also, they are most active during the dry season due to the fact that food and water sources are more available for them.

How to get rid of rats  
Rats love shelter and dry places to hide. One of the best ways to get rid of rats without poison is to eliminate their hiding places. Ensure to clean up the clutter in and around your home and move objects away from the walls. Keep all trash and food in closed bins, clean up any spills rapidly and keep your pipes and drains clean.

How to repel rats
It is an established fact that rats have a powerful sense of smell, so it’s easier to turn what seems to be their strength into their weakness by repelling them from your home and garden with scents they dislike such as clover, garlic, onion, hot peppers containing capsaicin, house ammonia, used coffee grounds, peppermint, eucalyptus, predator (cat) scent, white vinegar and citronella oil.

How to kill pest rats
Live traps – The use of live traps is a popular choice for many people who prefer to avoid killing rats but want to remove them from their home or property.
Snap traps – A faster method than live trapping and killing is the use of a well-designed snap trap. These come in different sizes and can be reused.

However, when using either of the above traps, ensure that the bait such as fresh peanut butter, dried fruit or bread is placed within the marked bait area and keep the rest of the trap clean of any food matter. This will reduce the likelihood of the trap closing and injuring, rather than killing the animal.

For best effect, traps should be placed parallel to a wall or in contact with a wall or other solid object, and in a place that encourages the rodent to use a path to the trap.

Glue boards – Although the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) is opposed to the use of glue boards as they cause severe suffering to rats as it wouldn’t kill the rat instantly but leave them stuck in the board to die of hunger, dehydration or exhaustion, they are very effective in trapping rats if you can quickly hit it on the head to die immediately it is trapped in the glue board.

Toxic bait or rat poison – Again, RSPCA kicks against this as the baits contain chemicals called anticoagulants, which cause the rodent to die slowly and painfully from internal bleeding. These poisons are not considered to be humane due to their toxic effects including difficulty in breathing, weakness, vomiting, bleeding gums, seizures, abdominal swelling and pain. However, because most people can’t stand floods of rats in their space, they turn to the use toxic baits to get rid of them at once. Aside from the inhumane killing effect, it is important to be aware that there is the possibility of these rats dying in unreachable corners or holes hence the need to kill rats through other methods.

Precautions against rats from entering your home
• Pay absolute attention to interior and exterior neatness.
• Store leftover food in metal glass or heavy-duty plastic containers with tight lids.
• Leftover pet food should be discarded or if still fresh, stored in a secure container.
• All food remains, litter and other rubbish inside and outside the home should be swept up and discarded in secure bins.
• All rubbish should be placed in metal or heavy plastic bins with tight lids.
• Rubbish should be placed outside on the morning that it is to be collected.
• Thrash-bin or rubbish bags should never be left on the footpath overnight. If possible take them out of your interior space before going to bed at night.
• Weeds and debris near buildings and in yards should be uprooted and removed to minimise hiding places.
• All windows should have intact screens.
• Outside doors should be kept closed and metal trim used to prevent rats or other rodents from gnawing and entering underneath.
•The entire house should be checked to ensure all holes are sealed both interior and exterior.

Unused materials and junk should be removed. Also materials such as firewood or garden supplies should be stored on raised platforms with an open area underneath to minimise rodent hiding places.