How to Kill a Rat in the Yard

Rats are nuisances that damage homes by chewing through walls and floors. Rats can eat through water pipes, causing flooding, and electrical wires, causing fires.

Baiting and trapping are two highly effective rat killing methods.

Rats carry diseases such as salmonellosis, rat bite fever, trichinosis, leotospirosis and murine typhus, all of which can be transferred to humans and animals. Two of the most effective and safest ways to kill rats in your yard are baiting and trapping. Try both methods to increase your chances of success.

  1. Set out toxic bait traps such as multiple-feeding anticoagulant, single-feeding anticoagulant and non-anticoagulant traps. Some toxic bait traps are for use only in or around buildings and not suited for gardens or landscapes. Toxic baits contain active ingredients that work as a direct toxin or cause death by internal bleeding, so the rat feeds in the yard and dies elsewhere.

  2. Reset toxic baits often because some baits require multiple feedings. It may take up to three weeks to kill a rat infestation. Toxic baits are hazardous to children and pets, so place these baits in a bait station to provide additional safety to children and pets.

  3. Set snap traps around the yard where rats are often seen. The most effective place to set these traps are between the rats and their food source, which can be determined by rat droppings, gnawed areas and damage. Snap traps are less costly than toxic bait traps because they can be reused.

  4. Place soft bait on the traps' trigger mechanisms to effectively kill rats. Soft baits include peanut butter, cheese and raw bacon. Place the traps close to walls and in dark areas such as thick brush cover, under hedges and behind objects where rats are most likely to seek shelter.

  5. Place unset baited traps to improve the chance of killing rats. This method makes the rat accustomed to the trap.

  6. Attach the traps to the ground or a solid place to keep the rat from dragging off the trap. Rats are strong rodents that can reach lengths up to 17 inches.

  7. Bury dead rats or wrap them in newspaper or plastic bags before putting them in a tightly sealed garbage can. Use gloves to protect your hands; never touch dead rats with your hands.

  8. Wash your hands with hot water and antibacterial soap after disposing of dead rats.

  9. Contact a professional exterminator to rid your yard of rats if your baiting and trapping efforts fail. They have the equipment and experience to handle large rat infestations.


Alert your neighbors to the rat problem and give them warning that you plan to set traps so they can keep pets and children indoors. Seal pet food, garbage cans and openings around the home to prevent rats in yards.