The first sight of a rat scurrying through your home may have you grabbing frantically for a super-sized container of rat poison. It's a perfectly normal response, but before you do this, you might want to think again - and consider other methods for getting rid of rats.
Why Not Rat Poison?
It's dangerous: According to the Environmental Protection Agency, 15,000 children under six annually ingest rat poison that was placed around the houses. And it's not just kids who are attracted to this substance - household pets are, as well.
It's an environmental hazard. Rat poison that is placed outdoors to ward off rodents can also have an adverse effect on crops; it's a toxic substance, and can kill nearby plants, in addition to deer, rabbits, and other animals.
How To Get Rid of Rats Safely and Humanely
Bait. Try placing tamper-proof rat bait stations in areas where you've noticed activity. These baits are covered, and safe from children and non-target animals, which makes them a much better bet than poison.
Choose your food carefully. Many people think that the best bait for rats is cheese, but this simply isn't true. Instead, chocolate and peanut butter have both been proven to be effective.
As with any other method of pest control, preventive action goes a long way. Make your house inhospitable to rats by sealing all open spaces and cracks where they could gain entry. And remove any piles of wood and debris outside your house, as these provide dark, comfortable 'home bases' for rats.