How-to Rat-Proof Your Yard
Case closed? Not yet. With the problem diagnosed, Errante could now eliminate the rats’ food and shelter and then eradicate the colony ­itself. But first he told Frances to call the city government about cleaning up the wooded area across the street. “The weeds needed to be cut down, because they harbor rats and mice,” he says.

Then on to Operation Rat Kill. Errante placed 24 key-operated poison bait stations 10 feet apart along the pathways the rats were using. He anchored the stations to the concrete so Gaglione’s son couldn’t tinker with them and accidentally get at the bait inside. Then he baited (but didn’t set) six snap traps near the deck. “You have to give the rats time to get comfortable with the bait,” he says. “I came back a week later to trigger the traps, and had a tremendous knockdown.”

He sprinkled poison powder in their burrows, and last but not least, rat-proofed the yard by sealing the open spaces around Gaglione’s exterior pipes with 1⁄4-inch steel hardware cloth and IPF foam, which contains a hot-pepper additive that deters rats from gnawing their way through the barrier. He also installed vent covers to make sure no ­unwanted visitors could get inside.

The Aftermath: Gaglione decided she wasn’t taking any more chances. Once the rats were gone, she cemented over the entire backyard and bought a power sprayer to clean her son’s swing set. She also installed decorative rocks, a tent, and an outdoor table. “It was very expensive, but I don’t want the rats to come back,” she says.

Her neighbor redesigned his property, too. “He ripped up his pool, deck, and lawn. He has only rocks and shrubs in his front yard now.” After four months of work, Gaglione’s property is now rat-free. She can let her son play outside, and she’s bold enough to have company over. But Errante visits monthly, because rats reproduce every 28 days. For the first three months, he replenished missing bait in the traps and closed burrows that had reopened. Now he puts wooden blocks ­instead of poisoned bait in the traps and watches for bite marks.
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