What is the best way to get rid of rats?

Of course it is possible to obtain materials to try and tackle rats yourself, however, this isn’t recommended for a number of reasons.

Firstly, there’s no substitute for experience and expertise, for example, knowing to fix down bait stations so they’re not a danger to children, pets or wildlife. Most laypeople won’t know what to look for when trying to get rid of rats, such as burrows, potential building entry points, smear marks, rat hair, imprints in the ground, droppings etc. To be able to identify these signs and know what kind of pest they relate to takes a good base knowledge of pest control.

If using bait to get rid of rats it’s worth noting this contains potentially dangerous chemicals which can be harmful not only to yourself but also children, pets and local wildlife. While you can purchase bait from high street stores the bait which is readily available to the general public will not be as effective as materials pest control companies use which are specially made for professional use.

Rats carry lots of diseases and trying to treat them yourself is not advisable from a health and safety perspective for you or your family. In order for a rat treatment to have maximum effect, preventative measures, such as sealing up entry and exit points, need to be put in place to stop the rats returning – just addressing the current infestation will not provide a long term solution.

The reasons behind rat infestations can be multiple, things such as disturbance due to building works can create new nesting opportunities for rat families, a nearby infestation can spill over into your property or damage to the drainage system can allow rats access to previously unavailable areas. Rats also need a water source (e.g. a pond), a food source (e.g. bird seed) and shelter (for example, a shed, or house).



Here’s how some well-known companies would go about getting rid of rats…


Covering most of the UK through their franchise network, Pestforce are the most reviewed pest control company. Pestforce recommend a three to four visit programme to get rid of rats. This includes placing bait boxes in and around the area where the rats have been spotted. The timing of these three to four visits will depend on how much bait has been eaten from each visit but they will usually be one to two weeks apart.

Pestforce do not offer any advice on how to proceed when there are children/pets at the property, but do have a blog on their website regarding rat facts, identifying a rat problem and how to deal with it:



Also a nationwide firm, operating for 90 years and with 40 branches, Rentokil go straight in with an annual contract proposal following an initial, weekly knock down program. The contract consists of four routine visits a year for inspections of rat activity and an un-capped amount of return visits are included if rodent activity is found. Ad-hoc call outs are also included between the hours of 8am – 11pm any day if rat activity is suspected.

Rentokil will install fixed-down external bait stations which will keep the bait safe away from non-target species.

As an alternative to the annual contract, Rentokil offer a four week knock down programme which is one visit per week. On the first visit they set up and secure bait stations around the garden, then the other visits will be to top up the bait. If the indoor area needed to be treated too, this would constitute a different treatment programme.

However, they strongly advise customers to go for the annual contract because that’s the best way of getting the rat problem under control due to the fact that they can return at any point. The Rentokil website mentions the risks of poison to children/pets/wildlife and has a section on how to prevent rats (including secure storage of food sources etc.):



A company focussing on overall risk reduction, Contego offer a call out inspection as an initial assessment of the rat issue. This would involve a technician coming out to the property, surveying the area, seeing where they think the rats are coming from (any entry points). After which the technician may recommend a “riddance programme” which is one visit per week, for three weeks using a combination of traps and/or rodenticide.

This treatment would only address the current infestation but proofing is mentioned. They cannot guarantee that the infestation won’t come back however, strongly recommended removing any food sources to protect against this. One of the FAQs on their website relates to the effects of pest control treatment on children/pets:


Able Group

Founded in 1993 as an emergency maintenance service, they cover locksmiths, plumbing, drainage, electrics, gas and heating work and pest control. Able suggest a two stage treatment to get rid of rats. The first visit would involve laying of cereal bait (rather than traps) and the second would be to clear up the bait and remove any dead bodies.

They explain that the cereal bait wouldn’t affect any wildlife or pets but do not mention proofing. There is mention of children and guidance on the treatment/post-treatment on their website:



Pestokil consider themselves the UK’s largest independent pest controller and have been trading since 1985. They offer an initial assessment of the issue to see if there’s evidence of rat activity. If activity is seen they will lay bait or snap traps. Whether they choose to use bait or snap traps will depend on their assessment of the situation.

After the initial visit, they will return two to three more times, between four and seven days apart. If any rats are seen inside the property they may treat them at the same time (if only a couple), however, if there are a lot of animals inside there would be additional charges to address the issue.

They claim that these three or four visits will get rid of the problem although the website does mention proofing and other control methods:


JG Pest Control

A family-run pest control business covering London, the Midlands, North West and the South. JG  recommend three visits, spread over three weeks, to get rid of rats. Over the course of these visits they would check the outside area to assess where the access points are and put down bait stations.

They advise that they wouldn’t put traps down in a garden as they wouldn’t be effective and you don’t know what’s going to come into contact with them. They also advised that pets/children should be kept an eye on and that all potential food sources for the rats should be removed.

If there is still activity, JG suggest getting back in touch after three weeks and they’ll undertake another treatment cycle. This approach is only to treat the current infestation – although they do mention proofing on their website, this is not offered initially.


PGH Pest Prevention

Surrey-based, but with franchises across the UK, PGH Pest Prevention would recommend a three stage treatment then proofing of any access points to get rid of rats for good. On the three visits the following would take place:

Visit 1: Technician Survey:-

Over 30 checkpoints are investigated both inside and outside of the property and a detailed report  will be produced with the findings and recommendations (taking into account whether there are children/pets at the property).

Any treatments for smells associated with rodents or inaccessible decaying bodies would be advised at this point but would constitute an additional call out and therefore cost. Details on what rodent proofing works could be put in place to protect the property will be given, proofing works are charged as extra but are guaranteed. Based on findings of the survey the treatment will then be started, this will use bait and/or traps depending on the situation.

Visit 2:

The technician will return 7-10 days after the initial visit. Any proofing works that have been accepted from the survey will be undertaken, the bait stations will be topped up and traps inspected and reset if necessary. Any accessible deceased rats will also be removed.

Visit 3:

The situation will be assessed to check the infestation is now controlled. If so, any accessible deceased rats will be removed as well as all bait stations and traps.

Although a common pest issue, rats pose a serious problem to both your property and your health; they can chew through furnishings and electrical cables, contaminate food sources and 50% of them carry the fatal Weils Disease plus other rodent-borne illnesses. They are also unhygienic, can create bad smells within your property and multiply at an alarming rate so it’s important to get rid of rats as quickly and effectively as possible. 


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