How to get rid of rats in the garden and under floorboards

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How you get rid of rats in your garden is by preventing them from finding what they are looking for. The difficulty is that gardens are mostly open spaces. And rats can easily climb above fences or burrow their way through the ground. So you cannot really rat-proof a garden entirely. At best you can keep your garden uncluttered so they find no shelter and have a fence and outbuildings that have no gaps underneath where they could nest.

One of the biggest contributors to rats’ infestations is the availability of food. It gives them a prime motive to come and allows them the necessary nutrients to breed and multiply. This is why it is so important to keep our rubbish in containers that close properly and never leave rubbish bags accumulating on the ground. Keeping the area clean and tidy at all times is probably the best deterrent against rats infesting your garden.

In large residential development, wastes are often kept in large containers that contain a hole in the bottom to allow the rainwater out, and a lid that often cannot close properly because there are too many bin bags inside it. In any case, rats have easy access to the food debris that lies within. And if left unchecked, the rat population can build up very quickly and to an incredibly high level. Thus, rats will then take advantage of any holes and gaps in the masonry to gain access to any nearby buildings.

The other area where rats are notoriously present is our main sewage system, where they find an unlimited supply of food and harbourage. And the sewers connect very much to every toilet in every building. Hence our drains constitute the other main route of ingress into our homes.

How to get rid of rats under floorboards

When you hear rats under floorboards, they often managed to get there through the sewage system. From within the drain pipes, they can often gnaw at the junctures and access the basements.

Once rats are under floorboards, you need to get rid of them before they cause any damage. People mostly complain about the noise that keeps them awake at night. But the real issue is rats chewing through pipework and electrical causing floodings and breakdowns. Also, they can take advantage of existing gaps around pipework and at floor level to access your living space. Kitchen and bathroom are particularly exposed.

how to get rid of rats in bathroom

The first step is taking care of the existing rat infestation. The best way is to place rat spring traps at the void space level where rats are active. In some cases, we need to cut an inspection hatch into the plasterboards, and at times we need to lift up some floorboards to access the area below.

The benefit of using traps is that you will be able to retrieve the dead rat under the floorboards before it starts smelling. The downside is that you can only catch so many rats at a time, and need multiple follow-up visits to clear and reset the traps. Some rats are wise to the traps and sometimes manage to clean the peanut butter without triggering them.

A complementary method to get rid of rats under the floorboards is baiting. We lace foodstuff with a slow-acting poison that the rats never associate with them getting weaker and dying. the bait causes dehydration that often leads them to seek drinking water, but it is no guarantee that they will die outdoors or away from your home.

On occasions, tenants do suffer from death smell inside their home and are not able to locate the dead rat under the floorboards. So they have to put up with it for up to 7-10 days depending on how big the rat and how deep it is. Fortunately, there are specially designed products that help to mask the smell while the dead body dries up.


treating smell from rat under floorboards

How to get rid of rats: Rat prevention

The key to getting rid of rats under the floor is rat prevention. It is to ensure that they do not have a route of entry into your building.

Ideally, rat control should be an integral part of the design stage of the building, particularly in commercial buildings. Since once a rat problem occurs inside your premises, you would otherwise need to put in place a contract with an efficient rat removal program.

Ingress routes could be provided by a loose structure/build with gaps larger than one inch, allowing rats to invade from the surrounding area into your building or garden decking. Rats can also eventually gnaw their way into the building. Or they can dig their way in if there is a broken sewer pipe below.

So we can sometimes stop them with a 1-way valve inside the inspection chamber, or in the manhole. In other instances, repairs can be carried out on the perimeter of the building to fill up holes and mesh airvents. Otherwise, you remain at risk of getting a dead rat under the floorboards, or worse, rats being able to access your living space.

How to get rid of rats in garden deckings

You can often get rid of rats in gardens by removing any areas that would shelter them. It is not unusual to see runs going under fences, outbuildings, and decking. And the same principles can be followed to prevent rats from entering your home as to prevent them from entering your garden decking.

Once the foundations for the decking are complete, you can cover the dirt floor with an appropriate mesh. Then build the beam structure and fit the planks, leaving only a 0.5 cm gap. As the planks are laid down, the gap to any walls and to the reinforced floor should be less than 0.5 cm. If you build the decking over a slate/floor of concrete, ensure there isn’t any weakness where the concrete floor touches the walls, or around any pipework. As well, perimeter planks need to sit over concrete.

Getting rid of rats in the garden: Poison or Proofing

Proofing a garden against rats can be quite impractical. I often see rats running on the top edge of the fence from one home to the next.

But it is worth making sure there are no gaps underneath the fence anywhere. Also, you should block gaps between the fence and buildings. If there is a gap between an outbuilding and a fence, it should be completely cleared and paved over.

Placing rat bait stations in a garden can only manage to control the rat population down. And therefore it is likely to be an ongoing endeavour. The amount of bait down and the frequency of visits need to be in line with the actual level of rat activity.

In some sites that are near a railway, or an industrial estate, we have carried out visits at 2 weeks intervals for a few months before seeing a sudden drop. Rats can travel 300 meters around the nest.

So you first need to deplete the population of rats that is nearby, then keep on going because eventually, more rats keep on coming. The key is to kill them before they have a chance to get established and start breeding again locally.

How does Pest Control get rid of rats?

We have a lot of clients who suffer from rat activity under the decking or within the building at void space level—that is, inside dead spaces below floor level that are anywhere from 50 cm to one meter deep. Reducing the rat population alongside proofing at the building or drain level will always offer the best results.

proofing against rats under floorboards

Integrated pest management

As previously mentioned, due care must be taken in the preparation of the site before building the structure. A poorly designed and/or poorly built project can dramatically devalue the worth of commercial and office premises. It may also generate disputes between tenants and building management that could go into litigation.

Basically, rats affecting the immediate vicinity of the site can come and go as they please. Tenants at times would suffer from noise, or from a death smell (as a consequence of baiting programs) and possibly flies. In the worst-case scenario, rats would also be able to gain access to the living space, especially at the kitchen level.

So as cable work and pipework go through the concrete slab, it’s essential that it’s sealed tightly as the first line of defense. And as the cables and pipework cross the raised floor level, the same principles apply again.

How to remove rats when there is no inspection hatch?

When we’re not able to gain easy access to the void below by lifting up a hatch, we then have to remove floorboards, or even jackhammer through concrete slabs.

Having an inspection hatch placed at critical points allows for rat trap placement in order to kill them and remove the body rather than having it rotting below.

It is common to have decking built over drain inspection chambers or building extensions. It is often simpler and cheaper than having to relocate the inspection chamber or build an access cover over it.

Who to call to get rid of rats

The answer that comes to mind is one of London’s best pest control companies. But it’s good to do a bit of homework before getting in touch: call the architect who should have the plans for the build or contact the builder who carried out the work. The best solution for rats is to keep them out, and the more information you have about the structure, the easier that will be.