How to get rid of rats

Finding rats in your home can be distressing, and if you find them in your business they could cause serious damage to your reputation. Rats also cause damage to property as they will gnaw away at insulation, pipes, electrical wires, doors, floorboards and soft furnishings.

Rats can also spread some nasty diseases in their search for food and shelter, including salmonella and listeria which cause food poisoning, so it’s important to deal with a rat infestation as quickly as possible.

The quickest, most effective way to get rid of a rat problem is to call a BPCA-certified pest controller like Masons Pest Control. We can visit your home or business and treat a rat infestation quickly, safely and discreetly, and advise how to stop it happening again. We also support the Think Wildlife Campaign for Responsible Rodenticide Use, which means our targeted treatment has minimum impact on surrounding wildlife.

What do rats look like?

Brown rats are the most common type of rats in the UK. Adult brown rats grow up to 40cm long with a tail shorter than the head and body, and weigh between 350-500g. They have a blunt nose, small ears and a thicker body than the smaller black rat.

Brown rats prefer living in the ground and burrowing, but are sometimes known to climb. They’re the only type of rat found in sewers and their favourite food is cereal, although they’ll eat almost anything.

Black rats are smaller than brown rats, between 16-24cm long with a pointier face and longer tail. These rats are very agile climbers but are much rarer than brown rats and most likely to be found in ports.

Signs of a rat infestation

Hearing scratching noises or finding small dark brown droppings are both signs of a possible rat infestation.

Rats are most active during the night so it’s more likely you’ll see the signs of a rat infestation than the actual rat. These include dark brown droppings the shape of a grain of rice. Also rub marks where the grease and dirt on their bodies has left smudges on surfaces. You may also hear scratching noises in the roof or find rat holes and burrows in outside areas and gardens.

You can check for rat evidence in kitchens, behind appliances and any gaps where pipework or cables enter your property. Shredded insulation and chewed items in lofts is another sign of rat infestation. Rats can also be found in crawlspaces, suspended ceilings and cavity walls.

Outside of your property, rats love compost bins and dustbins where they might find food, so check for holes and gnaw marks. Garden decking is also very popular and again check the edges for signs of gnawing and burrowing.

Rats may also enter sheds and garages through holes in the doors and air vents. Wasteland or overgrown gardens can also be home to rats that burrow through the vegetation and live among trees and shrubs. Damaged drain covers and nearby holes may also be a sign of rats living in drains.

How to prevent a rat infestation

As with mice, rats can be a common but distressing problem in homes and businesses. The good news is you can prevent an infestation with a few simple steps. These include keeping all food in sealed containers, keeping your house, business or garden tidy and putting rubbish bags in metal bins with secure lids.

Bird seed debris and pet food should be cleaned regularly and stored in secure containers above ground level, and try not to put organic food waste in your compost heap.

Sometimes you may need a preventative pest control service, particularly if you live or work in a large building or block of flats, or your business deals with food. Masons Pest Control can visit your property to make an assessment of your pest control needs before making regular, discreet visits to ensure your rodent problem is kept under control. To find out more about this please call us today or visit our commercial services page.

Scientific name


Life span

Brown rat: 2 years, Black rat: 12 months

Did you know

Rats take care of injured and sick rats in their group.