Discourage rats by removing any accessible food sources, for example by making sure bins are sealed. When feeding wildlife such as birds, do not let access food build up (this will also help reduce the risk of spreading wildlife diseases). Removing clutter will reduce hiding and nesting places for these animals. More information on living with rats can be found in the RSPCA living with series.
If control of rats is necessary pest control contractors can be employed. Many local councils offer a rat control service. In urban areas rat control over an area larger than one garden is often required to reduce rat numbers.
Break-back rat traps, similar to the traditional mouse trap, can be set in places where rats are active, these can be baited with a wide range of foodstuffs for example bread, cereal or chocolate. They must be placed so that other animals do not have access to them.
Several types of poison bait are widely available. Only baits approved for outdoor use can be used in gardens, and every care (by closely following the manufacturer's instructions) must be taken to avoid non-target species consuming the bait. Baits approved for indoor use can be used in sheds, greenhouses and other outbuildings, but again great care must be taken. Accidental poisoning of non-target animals is illegal. Bait should continue to be put down until rats stop taking it as it often requires several meals before the rats are killed.
Dead animals should be disposed of by burying them or placing the corpses in a polythene bag in the dustbin. Always wear rubber gloves when handling traps or dead rats. Poisoned rats will however, often crawl to an inaccessible place to die, this can result in an unpleasant odour and after a few weeks a large number of blowflies.