Where in the house rats are most likely to hide… says pest control expert 'The Rat Man'

‘There’s a rat in me kitchen what am I gonna do?’ Well, we’d suggest you do exactly as instructed by a pest control expert.

The Rat Man was on hand at This Morning to provide some much-needed help as the nation sees a rise in rat infestations – citing kitchens as the worst room in the house to find them.

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Image credit: Jeremy Phillips

Forget Remy – the cute character from Ratatouille – real life rats are every households worst nightmare. They spread disease and can cause all sorts of damage.

The Rat Man, aka Dan Dobson, joined the This Morning team to help with the increasing problem. ‘ It really has gone up in a big way. Since Covid started it’s just skyrocketed,’ he explains. ‘We got massive amounts of calls on issues with rats in people’s gardens and people’s homes.’

When asked by Eamonn, ‘What’s your worst experience, of all the things you’ve seen on your job what’s been the scariest with regards rats?’

Dan is quick to respond by saying, ‘Kitchens are probably the worst! Rats when they get inside… they do like food, so they’ll seek out kitchen areas. They eat cereals and people’s food. Bread is another favourite of rats.’

kitchen cupboard with cereals

Image credit: Bridget Peirson

Dan goes on to say, ‘one place I went to they had chewed through the ceiling, through all the cupboards, the floors. I’d estimate there were about 500 droppings. In every drawer, including the cutlery drawers.’

Our hearts are racing at even the thought, imagine the germs! No amount of ‘Hinching’ will scrub that memory from your mind.

So why do they come inside? What rats want are food, water and shelter. These flexible creatures can climb through a 2cm hole because they can contort their body to do so. So with any tempting opportunity we give them, they might invite themselves inside.

How to get rid of rats

1. Change the bins

Image credit: Brian Benson

What could be more tempting than a bin full of ‘delicous’ waste for a rat to feast on. Given their contortionist skills even the slightest gap on a bin can feel like an open invitation. Weight the lid down, if you already have a good sturdy bin – preferably a steel design, because they can and will gnaw through plastic. Even better still choose a bin with a secure lid, which they can’t knock off.

2. Empty water bowls

The average adult male rat is said to drink up to 60ml of water a day, so they’re always on the look out for the next watering hole. Pet bowls are a welcome invitation to sip from. Whether indoors or outside,  it’s suggested to empty them each night and turn them over to stop the sniff of attraction.

Another outdoor water source to watch are paddling pools, which should be emptied or covered to avoid rats getting in.

3. Clean up tempting food waste

After a barbecue or family party, make sure your garden is free of food. If you have a get-together on your decking, thoroughly clean the decking so that no sauces or dropped food remain which could entice rodents and other critters. Remember rats, mice and hedgehogs will also eat birdfeed, so make sure if you have one you opt for a birdfeeder that isn’t placed on the floor or a table and put it away from your decking.

4. Use humane traps to deal with the issue

Image credit: David Brittain

Many of us don’t like the idea of trapping pests, but sometimes, a humane, non-lethal trap method can solve the situation. Rats has a super highly sensitive sense of smell, so there are friendly ways to put them off entering your home or garden by using natural scents.

Try dropping spices and garlic herbs — pests hate it. Plant a peppermint tree around the edges of your decking or sprinkle cayenne around potential entry points to deter vermin from nesting. Of course, there are also plenty of rat and mice repellents you can buy that will work to keep pests away.

As for non-lethal traps, these are also good for handling the problem. Place these around your decking and make sure to release the rodent at least one mile from your home once caught. If you prefer, buy an ultrasonic pest repellent. Compact and discreet, these devices are ideal for placing by your decking and emit high-frequency sound waves that rodents can’t stand — and we can’t hear.

5. Block off your decked area

Garde decking area with lanterns

Image credit: Chris Everard

As we mentioned, shelter is something unwanted animals will always look for, so ensure that your garden is not offering a place for pests. Rats won’t be able to make a home under your decked areas if they can’t get in to begin with, so make a barrier.

But, how do you block off your entire decking without employing help or spending loads on materials? Use wood, mesh or chicken wire and run it along the entire edge of your decking between the boards and the ground. If you’re worried that this will ruin your decking’s aesthetic appeal, you can install a wooden trellis and have the mesh running behind it. Then, arrange potted plants or flowerbeds around your decking to mask the mesh further.

Signs of rats in your home

1. Tennis ball sized holes

These will appear near drainage, mainly near your sink to capitalise on the holes already in place for allowing piping.

2. Burrow holes

Outside the property – mostly along side walls of the house, or fences to indicate they are present. These burrow holes are similar to what rabbit holes look like.

3. Droppings

The sight of a dropping indoors is pretty big indication that you have a rodent problem. You’ll most likely find these under kitchen units if they are present. Rats droppings are larger than mice droppings.

4. Scratch marks

An easy way to spot the unwelcome intruders is by the marks they leave behind. Scratch and gnawing marks in side the household are likely to be left on possible entry to the property. Look out for these around cupboard edges especially.

5. Scurrying sounds from walls and ceilings

Hearing scurrying in the ceilings and walls. Hearing this noise would indicate you have rats running between the ceiling and the floorboards above, or between the insulation layers of the walls.

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Make rats your number one guest to social distance yourself from this summer!

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