Rat Control Tips

Prevention and Control

Rats cannot live without food, water, or shelter. Here's how to get rid of rat problems.

1. Rodent proof your home and storage buildings.

  • Check the outside of your house for holes or gaps the size of a quarter or larger
  • Repair all openings using rodent proof materials: 1/4-inch, 18-22 gauge wire hardware cloth
  • Install metal weather stripping under doors to remove gaps

2. Remove food sources from your property.

  • Always keep garbage cans covered
  • Pick fruit, nuts, and vegetables as they ripen, and throw away or compost fallen fruit on the ground
  • Feed pets during daylight hours only, and remove uneaten food right away
  • Avoid storing food in garages and storage sheds at night unless in rat-proof covered metal containers
  • Avoid feeding birds, or clean up any fallen bird seed around feeders

3. Get rid of rat habitat.

  • Remove all trash and debris
  • Stack woodpiles, lumber, and household items at least 18 inches above the ground and 12 inches away from fences and walls
  • Trim trees, bushes, and vines to at least 4 feet away from the roof
  • Remove heavy vegetation such as ivy, bougainvillea, and pyracantha from buildings and fences
  • Thin vegetation to allow daylight in and remove rat hiding places

4. Inside your home use traps, not poison bait.

  • Use snap traps indoors since poisoned rats may die inside walls or attics, creating odors and attracting flies
  • Place traps at entry points, or where you have seen rat droppings
  • Use CAUTION when placing traps around children or pets
  • Bait the traps with peanut butter or the food the rats have been eating
  • Tie down traps to prevent injured rats from dragging the traps away and dying inside your walls
  • Check traps at least twice a week

5. Outside your home use traps and poison bait (if necessary).

  • Place traps where rodent activity has been observed
  • Keep bait away from children and pets
  • Rodent proof your home BEFORE using poison bait
  • Always read the label and follow directions when using poisons
  • Multi-dose, anti-coagulant poisons are the most effective, as rats may need to feed on the bait for several days
  • Place poison bait in an enclosed bait station, where you see rats and their droppings
  • Make sure bait is in a protected area, such as under woodpiles or thick vegetation where rats may be hiding
  • Check bait stations twice a week and add bait when necessary
  • Place dead rats in sealed plastic bags and put them in the trash

Rat Inspections

The Vector Control Program provides educational rodent inspections FREE to County residents (inspections are performed on the exterior of buildings and only in San Diego County). This inspection includes a free Rat Control Starter Kit. The kit enables you to control rats yourself and provides examples of materials needed. It includes:

  • Tamper-resistant Trapping Station and key
  • Rat Control Brochure
  • 1 Rat Snap Trap
  • 1/4" Sample Hardware Cloth (used for exclusion)

The Vector Control program is NOT a pest control company and does NOT trap, bait, or remove rodents as part of this inspection, and does not provide poison bait.

To request a rat inspection contact the Vector Control Program.

Rat control starter kit


  (858) 694-2888