Rats contaminate supplies and food, nibble on cables and electrical systems, and spread dangerous pathogens. The bad thing is that rats reproduce so quickly. A couple quickly turns into a plague of rats. Speed ​​is of the essence when fighting rats. How do you know that rats are up to mischief in our immediate environment? What can you do against these pests? Continue reading!

What types of rats are there?

In Germany we mainly differentiate between the brown rat and the house rat. Both types are very clever and intelligent, true survivors. They are very careful and difficult to catch. Both reproduce quickly and abundantly. If the conditions are good, you can quickly find a whole army of rats in the area.

The brown rat, also known colloquially as the sewer rat or water rat, can be recognized by their gray-brown back color. The underside of the body, on the other hand, is light gray to white. The body is about 20 to 25 cm long, without a tail. This is about as long again. Characteristic of the brown rat are the blunt snout and the slightly smaller ears. This type of rat can live practically anywhere. She loves basements, feels at home in the sewer system and likes flowing water with abundant bank vegetation. The brown rat likes to dig earthworks outdoors. They are nocturnal animals. The rats also enter houses via the sewer system.

The black rat, which is also called the roof rat or ship rat, is smaller and slimmer than the brown rat. Instead, it has larger ears and a more pointed muzzle. It is often mistaken for a mouse. The fur is usually rabbit-colored, i.e. gray. Only 10 percent of house rats have black fur. It always looks pretty scruffy. The peritoneum is light. The tail of the house rat is longer than the rat itself. The house rat can also live practically anywhere. It occurs where it can find something to eat. She prefers fruits and likes it warm. This rat doesn’t like to live in the basement, but prefers to live in the attic. Her favorite places are barns, mills, large warehouses, silos and full attics. The house rat is also nocturnal.

How do you know if rats have entered?

Of course, you can tell that rats live in and around the house when you see them. But since they are shy animals, this is rarely the case. Dead animals are of course also an indication. The feces are more common. Soft and shiny-looking droppings suggest an active infestation.

Brown rat droppings

  • Spider-shaped
  • Lying together in groups

House rat droppings

  • Banana-shaped
  • Less wide
  • Lying scattered

In addition, signs of gnawing suggest a rat infestation. They are quite easy to recognize by the two parallel, slightly deepened grooves that the incisors leave behind. These grooves are about 4 mm apart. Rats love electrical cables. But they also like to gnaw on everything else that comes before their teeth. If you are looking for traces of food, you should watch out for food, a clear indication.

Smear marks are also a clear sign of rat infestation. Rats like to run along walls. When they touch the light-colored wall, a trace of body fat, mixed with dirt and dust, will stick to it. If you walk over it once, you won’t notice it, but since the animals always like to use the same paths, the layer becomes thicker and more visible. It’s located far below, near the ground, so you have to look carefully.

Running tracks also indicate rat infestation. But you can only see them when there is a layer of dust on the floor. If you suspect it, it makes sense to spread a thin layer of flour, mainly along the edges of the rooms, because rats like to walk along walls. The traces are clearly visible in the flour.

Rats can also be recognized by their smell. Typical of the animals is an ammonia-like odor, pungent and unpleasant.

What can you do about the rats?

Rats in the house are worse than if you “only” have them in the garden. First of all, the most important thing is to find out their access and to lock it. It is also important to check what attracts them. Many people deal with their garbage or with food and supplies with absolutely no thought. The rats must not be given a source of food. You don’t have to be particularly clean and clean and disinfect daily, just don’t leave anything edible lying around. I do not believe in the excessive hygiene that is so often recommended today, but food must be handled carefully. If you leave this open, it not only attracts rats, but also other pests.

What attracts rats?

What must be avoided so that rats do not feel well or cannot feed themselves?

  • Leave leftover food lying around
  • Dispose of this in the toilet!
  • Do not cover compost heaps with cooked food
  • No food leftovers in the yellow sack or in the accessible garbage
  • Birdseed attracts rats, so don’t leave anything lying around, keep everything in closed containers.
  • Always keep the lids of garbage cans closed.
  • Do not leave unbarred cellar windows open.

Seal the house

So, first of all, building defects must be remedied. Rats get into the house through the smallest of cracks. A gap of only 2 cm is enough for them to squeeze through. It is ideal to seal doors and gates with nylon brush strips. Rubber lips also serve the same purpose. Windows, ventilation openings and doors must also be provided with close-meshed grilles. Since rats also like to enter via the sewer system, it makes sense to secure the watercourses (gullies) with metal grids. However, this harbors other dangers. All rubbish collects on the grilles and everything can get clogged. In any case, all damaged pipes must be repaired immediately. Particular attention should be paid to the openings in supply lines. Rats also like to penetrate there. Close-meshed wire netting helps here too,

Backflow flaps for the toilet system prevent flooding in the house and the penetration of rats on this way. They are usually installed in the house basement with the house box or pipe and prevent the backflow of sewage into the house and the penetration of rats into the house pipe.

Secure garden

Usually it is the compost heap that attracts rats. It is important not to dispose of any food on it. In addition, rats must be prevented from entering. So it’s best to put the compost on a concrete slab. A close-meshed, hard-wearing grid is enough. There must be no cracks in the housing of the compost heap through which the rat could penetrate. Everything has to be locked tight. Litter corners in the garden must be removed. Such “dirty corners” are popular places to go for rats. It is not uncommon for the entrances to their nests to be located there. If the pests are not offered food or shelter, they will not settle in the first place. If you already have rats in the garden, you have to make order and do it thoroughly and remove all food scraps from the compost!

Home remedies

There are always some tips that have more or less proven themselves against rats. First and foremost is the cat, as a rat hunter. Some cats are really good at this, but not all are pied pies. You can try it, but you shouldn’t be disappointed if it doesn’t work.

  • Turpentine works quite well, but it stinks a lot. You also have to know where the nests and structures are. You stuff rags soaked in turpentine into the entrances.
  • Cayenne pepper sprinkled on the paths should also help. There is also the fact that the rats ingest the pepper while cleaning. They don’t like that at all.
  • Chamomile, mint, peppermint, cloves and oleander leaves are also said to have a repellant effect, but to be honest, I don’t really believe that.
  • One of the oldest home remedies for rats is chlorinated lime mixed with vinegar. You put the stuff in shallow bowls and put them in every room. Rats should not be able to stand the smell. That’s probably true, but for us humans too, chlorinated lime is not without it. The mixture is considered oxidizing, corrosive and dangerous to the environment. In connection with acids, including carbon dioxide from the air, chlorine gas is produced. So chlorinated lime is very dangerous!
  • Then the lime paint in the cellar is better. Iron vitriol is added to the lime.

Ultrasound against rats?
Unfortunately that does not work. Neither ultrasound nor infrasound waves or other vibrations help against a rat problem. This is just money making and only the manufacturers of these devices will be happy.

What really works against rats

Here, too, as with other pests, there is no remedy that helps 100%. Rats are extremely clever and crafty. What works with the first rat only works once, because they are very capable of learning. You learn from the adversity of the first rat. They also pass on their knowledge to the following generations. So you always have to find something new.

Rat poison

Food or ready-made baits are deadly if they are eaten. The problem is, other animals die as well. Therefore it is absolutely necessary and prescribed to lay out this bait in appropriate rat traps or rat bait traps. The baits are extremely dangerous for children, pets and farm animals. You must not come into contact with it !!!

  • Drinking baits are useful when the rats have nowhere else to get water.
  • Contact powder or gel is distributed along walkways, penetration openings or in front of the nests. The rats then ingest the poison when they clean.
  • As long as other food sources are available, the rats use them. The bait remains untouched. Therefore everything that can be eaten must be removed!
  • What can happen is that the rats are now resistant to the poison. There are whole areas in Germany where the poisons no longer work.


If you don’t have too many rats around or in the house, you can try to trap them. A wide variety of traps are on offer, from snap traps that kill to box traps that catch rats alive. Rat traps have been tried and tested for centuries. But there are animals that are extremely shy about traps, they will never get caught in such a trap. Rats are smart. It is difficult to lure them into a trap. Peanut butter should help as bait.

Professional pest fighter

When dealing with a rat problem, acting quickly and accurately is important. Catching or poisoning a rat may be on its own, but if you have a real rat problem, professional help is really important. The experts know what they are doing, have experience and completely different resources that laypeople cannot access. It is true that the help of professionals costs a lot, but so does the useless attempts with many other means. Then there is the time problem. The longer you experiment, the more rats there will be. Anyone who wants to get the pest problem under control once and for all is mostly dependent on help. The specialist can also find out where and how the rats get into the house. If you find these places and seal them, there can be no renewed infestation.

A rat infestation should not be ignored, even if you have only seen one rat or have traces of it. They multiply quickly and good advice is expensive. Rats are a health hazard for us, our children, and pets and farm animals. They also cause damage by being eaten by many things. You are to be combated. The safest thing to do is to bring in a professional and let them solve the problem. Most of the time you have peace and quiet once and for all. If you try it yourself, it can work, but it is not infrequently more expensive. I would trust the professional, but of course that is a matter of opinion.

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