Hearing little feet scurrying or finding droppings is not a pleasant experience. It most often means that you have a rodent problem. Besides being unpleasant, rats can damage your home and spread disease. Before you call a rodent-control service, read the tips listed below and learn how you can get rid of the rats on your own.

The best way to catch rats is with traps.

  • Purchase rat traps at your local hardware store. Set up the traps with bait. Contrary to popular belief, rodents don't like cheese, and actually prefer peanut butter. Put a dollop of peanut butter the size of a pea on the rat traps. If your problem is in your kitchen, set up several traps under the sink or next to the wall. If you're setting the traps in the attic or basement, place the traps where you have found rat droppings. It may take several days to catch the rat [source: IDPH].
  • Set up glue traps or live traps, if you want to catch the rats without killing them. Be aware that rats urinate when they're afraid. The urine may contain germs, so use gloves when handling the trapped rat and wash your hands immediately after disposing of the rat [source: CDC].

After catching the rat, you'll want to prevent future infestations. The following preventive steps will help avoid future infestation.

  • Caulk any openings from the exterior to the interior of your home. This will cut off the rodents' access to your home.
  • Cover ventilation openings with screens.
  • Unclog your gutters of soft or rotting debris [source: Ecology Center].
  • Don't leave food out on the kitchen counters.
  • Keep outside grilling areas clean.
  • Keep compost and garbage bins as far away from the home as possible [source: CDC].