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How To Get Rid of Rats Without Harming Pets in the UK?

John Seo |

Rats cause damage to property as well as carry harmful diseases. Not just a pest in the countryside, rats are widespread in urban areas too. You are never more than six feet away from a rat in the UK!

Traditional methods like poisoning are effective in dealing with rats but are problematic in households or locations with domestic pets. 

Poison is harmful and can kill pets, so getting rid of rats safely is a top priority.

Essential Tips for Getting Rid of Rats Safely

There are many ways to get rid of rats, some safer than others when protecting your furry friends. A lot depends upon the location and whether you are just trying to catch and despatch a sole rodent or more than one. Here are some essential tips.

Humane Rat Traps

So-called because they are more humane, catching the rat alive and allowing the trapper to release the rodent into the wild. Humane traps are more expensive than some of the more old-fashioned versions.

Kill Traps

Kill traps catch and despatch within seconds, using CO2 gas or electrocution, which kills the rodent with an electric charge. This is safer for pets and more humane than using poison.

Traditional Snap Traps

Snap traps operate with bait like cheese or something tasty like peanut butter. Place the food on the trigger, and when the rat touches it, the trigger snaps down onto the rat.

Snap traps usually kill rodents instantly, but sometimes the rat is caught by its tail or a leg and doesn’t die immediately.

Traditional snap traps with food bait are safer for pets because they won’t risk secondary poisoning if they consume a dead rodent.

Glue Traps

Glue traps are thick paper or vinyl sheets covered with a very sticky and dense adhesive. Most glue traps are pre-loaded with aromatic properties which tempt the rat, or you can use food as a lure.

Glue traps don’t guarantee to kill a rat or kill it instantly. Often, the rodent ends up with a face full of glue, leading to suffocation, or the glue traps them but otherwise leaves them in good health, leaving you with a bit of a problem!

Environmentally Friendly Methods

Some people would rather deter rodent visitors than kill them, and other householders don’t want to use poisons that can harm wildlife as well as their own pets. 

There are many home remedies to get rid of rats, which are also usually safe for domestic pets.

If you know where the rats get into the building, sprinkle mint, cinnamon or pepper near the ground openings. Peppermint essential oil is strong and intense and can encourage rats to look for food elsewhere.

Find the Rat Entry Points

If you can find the entry point to your garden or house, you can block this up to stop rats from getting in. Rats are attracted by food, so it may just be a case of removing the menu.

Locating Traps Away from Pets

Keeping your pet away from a rat trap is essential to avoid harm, but there is a bigger picture.

Many people don’t want to use poisons because of the risk of secondary poisoning to scavenger species like buzzards, red kites and barn owls.

Making the Property Unattractive to Rodents

Rats are attracted to food sources, so things like overflowing dustbins make easy pickings. Keep food waste securely housed until it’s collected.

Rats follow a set path, so if you can work out where this is, you can remove the source of attraction and block entry points to buildings.

Safe Rodent Proofing Techniques


Try and remove or at least check popular rat runways behind appliances and dark areas. 

Using natural materials like castor oil or peppermint oil will deter rats in inaccessible locations where it’s hard to use other rodent control methods and won’t harm pets.

Keep food away from surfaces after cooking and eating and securely stored.


Keep rubbish and food waste securely stored in vermin-proof bins until collection day.

If you grow fruit or vegetables, remove any windfall or rotten veg as this will be an attractive food source for rats.

Look for and repair any holes in the bottom of the house or in outbuildings and sheds. Try to find their entrance if you hear noises in the roof void. Remember, rats can climb!

Frequently Asked Questions

What Will Kill Rats but Not Pets?

Any trap that doesn’t include poison is usually safe to use in a domestic environment with pets. By utilising non-toxic trapping methods like electrocution, you can address the rat infestation issue without risking the safety of your pets.

How Do I Get Rid of Rats When I Have Dogs in the UK?

Use enclosed traps which don’t rely on poisoned bait. These either catch the rat alive for release elsewhere or use gas or an electric current to despatch the rodent. Always keep your dogs away from the traps even though they are poison-free.

Making your home unfriendly to rats also helps control them.

Final Thoughts

There are many safe and pet-friendly ways to discourage and get rid of rats in the home that don’t involve poisons or toxic chemicals.

Food sources attract rats who also look for warm, dry places to nest with access to suitable nesting material. Understanding rodent behaviour makes it easier to identify the source of attraction so you can remove it.

Some people don’t feel able to tackle rodents and will call in an expert service to get rid of them. Using a licensed professional to protect your home and your pets is essential, and there is a register on the British Pest Control Association website.