Traps for controlling rats come in several types. The traditional spring trap uses bait to lure rats to trigger a spring that snaps a bar down on the rat's neck. Live traps lure rats inside a boxlike structure, where they are confined until you release or kill them. Glue traps use a very sticky substance to which rats adhere if they run across it. Traps are more beneficial than poison for several reasons. Traps are safer than poisons, as poisons can be ingested by children, pets or other animals for which they are not intended. Once the rat is killed in a trap, you can simply empty or dispose of the trap. Traps also kill rats instantly, rather than giving them the opportunity to get sick and crawl away to die in areas you cannot reach, leaving you with a rotting rat in your wall or roof.
Those who want to steer clear of traps can use poison, which is more effective at killing off large numbers of rats. While poisons can be scattered across large areas, such as subway train tracks, it's best to use a bait station in the home. Bait stations are usually tubelike structures that make the fatal bait accessible to rats but keep it away from pets and children. Rat poison, also known as rodenticide, comes in several forms. These include seed, pellet, block or liquid. Opt for a poison strong enough to kill a rat in a single feeding, rather than one that takes several meals to eliminate them.
Once an area is rid of existing rats, or to keep rats out in the first place, the best form of rodent control is prevention. Keep areas clean and free of scattered pet food, seeds or other items rats would love to eat. Also block off any openings in the walls, ceilings or floorboards. Stuffing small holes with steel wool and then covering them with nailed boards makes the holes inaccessible. Some dogs and most cats are also known for their rat chasing and killing skills and they, too, can help keep rats at bay.