Food & Wine ~ Sonoma Valley Sun


How to effectively protect your home from rats

Posted on February 8, 2020 by Sonoma Valley Sun

Nobody likes a rat.  And we aren’t talking about some shady people in your life. We are talking about the rodent variety.

The best way to avoid dealing with rats or mice is to prevent them from coming into your home in the first place. The great thing for you is that preventive care is easy, and will go a long way in keeping your home rat free.

Before going into prevention methods, make sure you don’t have rats in the home in the first place. Things to look out for:


Mice droppings are about the size of rice.  Rat droppings are about the size of raisins.


A rat can easily get into your home through a quarter-sized hole.  A mouse can fit into a hole smaller than that, about the size of a dime.


Rats will make nests out of almost anything. Leaves and debris, cardboard, insulation, newspapers and wooden pieces, basically anything loose you can find, a rat can use it as a nest.


A good way to confirm you have rats or mice is to use some crackers or small pieces of bread, and using a spread like peanut butter or jam, and spread some all purpose flour onto an area on the floor where rodents likely travel. Then check later — if you have what appears to be tracks through the flour, you have rats or mice. Another way to check for pests, that isn’t so dirty and requires much of a cleanup, is simply listening. Listening into your walls to tell tale signs of gnawing and scratching would immediately tell you if you have rats or mice.


Keep in mind the three things that rodents are searching for in your home: food, water and shelter. You can make your home is as inhospitable to them as possible.

Entry Ways

For any cracks and holes in your home that need a quick DIY solution, you can use a piece of metal scrub or steel wool, tightly bunch it into a ball and squeeze it into the crevice. Then using a caulking solution, seal up the hole. Once the seal solidifies, you can use sandpaper and paint to match it with the wall you’ve just repaired. For exterior entryways in your home, especially larger cracks, you’ll have to repair them using material that is both strong and weather resistant. You may have to contact a professional to work on the exterior depending on the damage of the area. Rat traps, baits, and poisons from can be used along walls and common entry points as effective ways of preventing and dealing with your rodent problems. Make sure that whenever you’re dealing with any products with chemicals, wear the proper gear, things like goggles and gloves, for safety. And keep your children and pets away from them as well as traps and bait boards.

Other Entry Points

Identify areas that rodents can get into and that may need to be sealed off. There are so many access points in your home, you’ll likely need to take many precautions to keep rats out.  Weather strips are not only great uses for keeping rooms breeze free, but also keeping out rodents that can squeeze into those small entryways. Rubber stoppers are good to install under your garage door, as it will keep pests out as well as protecting your garage door from damage.

Tightly sealing the areas around pipes, drains and vents as well as cleaning them out should be a routine checkup. Roofing needs to be inspected as damages to a roof may create an access point to vents or your home attic. You should also inspect your chimneys and should clean and cap them while doing so.

Sources of food and water

Remove sources of food and water for rodents, you want to eliminate ways they can feed and drink. Keep counters and food preparation areas clean overnight.  Keep all your food in sealed containers. Glass jars are great to have to store your foods in an airtight seal. Glass or even hard plastic containers work well; they can’t be chewed through, unlike many of the original cardboard or plastic containers. Do the same with pet foods as well. Outside your home, make sure you pick up any trash or discarded food, and keep your garbage and recycling bins as tightly sealed as possible.

Eliminate Rodent Habitats

Keep your home free of clutter, and where possible, store items higher on shelves and off the floor. Outside your home, remove unnecessary clutter from all areas from the immediate vicinity.  Remove still waters or possible water sources like hoses or birdbaths. Trim your grass, shrubbery, and trees if possible. An unkempt lawn or field makes rodents feel protected.

Rats love heavy populated areas, so inner city residences and densely populated urban areas can be places to find lots of rats. So if you live in a sprawling city or town, you’ll want to take extra consideration into these tips and you’ll be living a rat free life.


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