How to Address the Rat Problem Outside Your Building

It’s no secret that New York City has a problem with rats. In 2020, New York ranked third on Orkin’s Top 50 Rattiest Cities List. 

Why do rats like New York so much?

Conditions that contribute to rat infestations include buildup of garbage that is not properly disposed of, waste material, and water — all of which are commonplace in the city. 

Fortunately, these contributing factors can be controlled. While the city of New York does have programs to improve the rat problem, there are things residents can do to protect their buildings.

Here are some steps you can take to protect your home:

  • Inspect your property for entry points and burrows
  • Make your building rodent-proof (seal and repair)
  • Set up bait stations for long-term outdoor control
  • Use natural rodenticides or dry ice to eliminate burrows
  • Use steel-lidded trash cans

NYC pest control companies like MMPC have the know-how, personnel, and equipment to help you address outdoor rodent infestations from the root.

Outdoor Rodent Control: Where Do You Start?

Rodent proofing your property or building can help prevent and eliminate a potential rat problem. Do this by investing in pest exclusion methods.

Exclusionary tactics are designed to locate and seal holes and tiny crevices where New York City rats make their nests. Exclusion is safer and more effective than traditional chemical pest control because it stops pest infestations before they happen. 

Other pest exclusion methods involve the placement of barriers, which stop rodents from traveling between buildings. These barriers must be made from substances that cannot be chewed through, such as steel wool, expanding foam, clear caulk, and metal plating.

If you see signs of an outdoor rodent infestation (live or dead rats, droppings, or burrows) and you’d like to learn more about rodent proofing methods, contact MMPC or your local outdoor rodent control specialist for a consultation today.

Mice and rats often access buildings through small structural openings

Keeping Rats Away

If you spot rats outside of your building, make sure they don’t seek shelter in or around your building.  Do this by making your building inaccessible to these wandering pests.

Seal the gaps:

  • Repair or replace torn window or door screens
  • Replace damaged or missing door sweeps
  • Fill cracks, crevices, or gaps
  • Repair or replace vent covers

Since they like to hide under overgrown shrubs or plants, you should also examine the soil for burrows to be filled so as to prevent the creatures from getting in and out. To find out if the burrow is currently in use, loosely fill it with soil or leaves and check it over the course of a couple days to see if it has been reopened. 

Using steel-lidded trash cans can also help mitigate and prevent outdoor rodent infestations. 

Trash cans that aren’t properly closed are magnets for these animals, which will chew holes in plastic garbage bags to get at any food inside. If you take away the rats’ food source, they’ll be less likely to congregate in your area. 

Get rid of clutter surrounding your building. Piles of newspapers, paper bags, cardboard, and bottles are great places for rats to hide, sleep, nest, and reproduce. 

When Rats Invade Your Plantings

New York City rats can also find shelter in your plantings. Residential neighborhoods that have greenery and areas with dirt surrounding ornamental trees might face the challenge of burrowing rats.

Signs of an infestation:

  • Burrow holes
  • Droppings
  • Gnaw marks
  • Live or dead rats

In these cases, rodent proofing your greenery may require the application of natural rodenticides, which can be placed directly inside rat burrows. Rodents eliminated this way are effectively buried underground, so no further disposal is necessary.

Dry ice can also be used by pest control professionals to treat outdoor rodent infestations. Pellets of dry ice, or frozen carbon dioxide, are inserted into burrows, which releases the gas and smothers any rats living inside.

While more labor-intensive than rodenticide, dry ice gassing doesn’t pose secondary poisoning risks to other animals and is especially effective for dealing with networks of burrows.

Maintaining your weeds, shrubs and bushes by doing regular landscaping will make it a less desirable location for burrowing rats in the future. Avoid dense planting and keep your plant space free of weeds.

Rodent Bait Stations

If you suspect that the area outside your building is becoming a home to rodents, you can use rodent bait stations.

These are locked, tamper-resistant boxes made of sturdy plastic or metal, filled with either solid or liquid bait. At MMPC, we use solid, anticoagulant bait blocks that are specially formulated to attract and eliminate mice and rats.

These traps don’t actually catch the rats, eliminating the need for messy cleanup. Rather, their purpose is to disperse the bait among neighborhood rodent populations and whittle down their numbers over a period of days and weeks.

Bait stations should be placed near rodent burrows, against walls, or along travel routes used by pests. Rodents tend to stay near their nests or food sources so place these boxes in the areas where these pests are active. 

A benefit to bait stations is that the bait within the boxes are inaccessible to humans and pets. But in the unlikely scenario that a dog or cat ingests a small amount of the anticoagulant by mistake, the toxicity can be counteracted with Vitamin K1, which can be found in many pet foods and over-the-counter medication.

Digging is a rodent's specialty

What NOT to Do When You Spot a Rat

Rats and mice are typically more active at night but will venture out during the day if their hunger becomes too much. 

If you happen to cross paths with these pests, there are 2 things you should definitely avoid doing.

First, don’t try to catch them with your bare or gloved hands. Norway rats, which are predominant among New York City rats, are not docile. These rats are generally more than a foot and half long and have sharp incisors that they will use to bite if you try to grab them. As they frequently carry diseases, including salmonella and tuberculosis, handling them is dangerous, especially if you’re not a professional rodent control specialist. 

Second, don’t try to corner them or actively approach them. Rats and mice aren’t fans of people so if you happen to come across one, move away. 

If you accidentally touch it (or it touches you), refrain from touching your face until you can wash any affected clothing and scrub yourself with soap.

Exclusion and baiting can help decrease the rodent population in NYC neighborhoods.

Outdoor Rodent Control Specialists in NYC

Have questions, or dealing with mice and rats outside your building?

MMPC is here to help! We are one of New York City’s highest-rated pest control companies, with 25+ years of experience helping our neighbors inspect, control, and prevent rodent infestations using effective and eco-friendly methods.