What is the Most Humane Way to Kill Rats?

by | May 25, 2021 | Pest, Rodent Control

You’d really hate to kill the rat (rats?) you’ve been seeing in the garden – or hearing in the walls at night. But you know they are problematic for your home & health. What is the most humane way to kill rats? What other methods work to keep rodents away naturally? Let’s talk candidly to figure out what’s best for you, the animals, and the community.

Why Are There No Chipmunks in Portland?

Rats are not native to North America, they are an invasive species just like english ivy & burmese pythons that smother and outcompete native species and harm biodiversity. Norway & roof rats do not belong in our delicate native ecosystems.

If you ever wonder why you’ve never seen a chipmunk in Portland, it’s probably because Norway rats and invasive squirrels have replaced them in their habitat niche.

What is the Most Humane Way to Kill a Rat?

I’m not saying all rats must die.

They didn’t choose to be here, as much as we didn’t choose for our colonist ancestors to bring them here. If live-trapping a rat and then releasing it is the most compassionate, humane rat removal to YOU, then do it.

To trap a rat without killing it, use a small live cage-style trap for rodents & squirrels. Place a bit of food behind the trigger plate and arm the trap according to the instructions. Check frequently.

If you choose to live trap a rat, release it directly outside your home after sealing entry points.

Humanely Remove Rats

But beware: you could be creating a serious issue for yourself and your neighbors. That rat will be traumatized for life, and never touch a trap again…

So if that rat gets into another house, trapping won’t be an effective option.

That neighbor could be forced to use poisons to rid their home of that “trap shy” rat. Trap shy rodents and squirrels are a huge challenge to pest managers and homeowners.

If rats are released far away in a forest, their life after release is likely to be a short, frantic fight for survival — or they succeed, and could go on to disrupt native rodent habitat.

Humane Rat Extermination

Considering this, rat exterminators actually recommend regular snap traps as the most humane rat exterminators option.

The “T-Rex” or “Victor” style snap trap has a strong spring & grip. Placing these in an enclosed station limits the ways rats enter the trap and ensures you the most humane way to kill a rat.

No Kill Rat Removal

Don’t worry too much about what kind of trap is most humane. To get rid of rats without killing them, focus on thoroughly inspecting your home and sealing any entry point with metal materials. If you cannot seal the gap within 1/4″ you should contact a rodent exclusion pro for help.

Rat Damage

Rat damage costs Portland homeowners millions of dollars annually.

Rats, squirrels and mice can chew on car wires and occasionally start fires. They burrow under foundations and gnaw through rotting wood. They can ruin expensive clothing, priceless mementos & camping equipment, foul and contaminate attics, crawlspaces, and insulation in your wall voids. 

If allowed access to consistent food sources, they can multiply by a factor of 10, every 8 weeks. Yikes!

What Deters Rats Effectively?

Natural rodent repellents are a multi-million dollar industry, using cayenne, peppermint, castor oil, or even ultrasonic sound. However, professional rat and mice exterminators don’t typically use or recommend these products. Unfortunately, they’re only marginally effective long-term.

Rats are so adaptable, they will become comfortable with strong odors or even ultrasonic sound after a while.

Dogs and cats can provide some assistance with controlling rodents. Especially if they are born hunters. However city rats have adapted to hide & survive in crevices & holes, where predators like dogs, cats, and raccoons can’t get them. So domestic pet odors, or pets at the home doesn’t constitute a complete rodent control method. If domestic cats and dogs provided significant rat and mouse control in Portland, you probably wouldn’t be reading this article. 

Humane Rodent Removal

To recap, the most humane way to remove & deter rats is reducing any habitat and food sources outdoors.

  • Clear up yard debris and vegetation wherever you can. Especially weeds, grass & groundcovers over 3″ tall, where rats love to hide.
  • Trim away shhrubs, vines & branches from houses, garages & fences where roof rats lurk.
  • Seal any open gaps in garages & sheds. Without any good hiding places, rats won’t want to hang around your property. And without coverage, predators or environmental factors are more likely to naturally control rats.

Most importantly, never feed birds or wildlife. Rats commonly take advantage of high-protein food sources like kibbles and birdseed when available. Nightly they gather and hoard food back at their nest.

Consider planting Tall Oregon grape, flowering red currant, salmonberry, snowberry, elderberry, or other native habitat shrubs to encourage native songbirds & wildlife, without attracting rats.

Oregon grape fruits and leaves in sunshine

Society relies on trapping, baiting, and excluding rodents to provide acceptable levels of control for human health & safety. 

Rat exterminators or “rat catchers” have been at it for five centuries. And we still haven’t found better ways of effectively controlling or repelling rats and urban rodent pests.

Trapping and exclusion are only practical inside a home, garage or other enclosed area.

For rats outside, unfortunately most rat exterminators turn to rodenticides to manage population size to acceptable levels. 

The most humane way to control rats is to prevent them from breeding in the first place.

 If you’re interested in learning more about a custom natural, humane rat control solution for your Portland home, get in touch today.


Pest and Pollinator contact information phone 9712319945 email info@pestandpollinator.com