Rats are not welcome guests in your home, especially if you're trying to sell it and move to another property. 

Not only are they a health hazard, but rats are also not pleasing to look at. They breed quickly and can take over your home in a short time. Getting a pest inspection can help you determine whether these rodents or other critters such as termites and cockroaches have infested your home. After the issue has been identified, it's time to clean house.

Where to find signs of rats

Sometimes, it's not obvious that you have a few unwanted house guests. In these instances, you have to do some hunting to confirm or deny your suspicions. Here are some places to check:

  • Crawl spaces
  • Near roof vents in the attic
  • Around furnaces and hot water heaters
  • Areas with rotting brick or wood
  • Cluttered areas, especially those used for storage

Also, keep a lookout for any structures outside your house that could help a rat gain entry, including tree branches that touch the home. Rats can use these items as a bridge to an open window or roof vent. Few holes are too small for these rodents to slip in, as they can squeeze into a space as small as a quarter.

When searching for possible access points and nesting areas, the most obvious sign will be a rat itself. You can also check for droppings, signs of dirt or grease prints along your floorboards and indications that food in your kitchen or trash has been disturbed.

How to catch rats

If you're only dealing with one or two of these rodents, you can get rid of them yourself. The first step is to return to your access points and seal them with wire mesh. This material is suitable because rats can't gnaw through it as easily. Additionally, relocate or eliminate the exterior structures that give these pests access to your home.

With all the holes covered, you can start considering your options for removing the pests. Here are some choices:

  • Rat bait and poison: These tools shouldn't be used without first consulting a professional, as they can be hazardous to humans and pets. Their goal is to kill rather than capture the rat. Some people also find bait and poison to be inhumane.
  • Rat traps: There are various choices under this category, some of which can be homemade. Glue traps are sometimes frowned upon, and require some food or special chemicals to attract the pest. Rats are wary of unfamiliar objects, so they won't be keen to approach a glue trap. The same is true of classic snap traps. Both are placed along the rats' common travel routes.
  • Rat repellent: These can include chemical and ultrasonic solutions. Both are usually ineffective. The former fails because rats have a good sense of smell. 
  • Exterminators: For large infestations, call in the professionals, even if you only need a home inspection to check see the extent of the issue.

Keeping new rats out of your home

After successfully ridding your property of troublesome rodents, keep an eye out for future access points and seal them. The house inspection should alert you to key areas to watch. Make sure that all trash cans are sealed and try to store all food in resealable hard plastic containers. Rats like to chew through soft plastic and cardboard to get to food, including cereal boxes and pet food bags.

Without access to food, they won't be tempted to roam around your residence. However, if you feed them, they'll soon be back and in greater numbers, too.