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What Do You Do If You Catch A Rat?

(Last Updated On: June 4, 2022)

If you have a rat problem in your home, you may have difficulty averting an infestation. Rats are highly intelligent but also destructive and invasive pests.

They know how to stay out of sight and evade traps set up by their human hosts. When captured, you need to decide what to do with the rat.

All U.S. states have different legal requirements regarding what you’re allowed to do with rats.

If you catch a rat in a live rat trap, you should release it 3+ miles from your home and other residential properties. Never handle a trapped rat with your bare hands, as rats carry deadly diseases.

Always wear heavy gloves and long-sleeved clothing to avoid direct contact with rodents. Also, ensure that you disinfect the area thoroughly after getting rid of the trapped rat.

What To Do With A Rat Once Caught?

Catching a rat that has been troubling you can bring great relief. Nevertheless, trapping the rat is only the first step. It matters more what you do with the rat once it has been caught.

Here are the different options:

Kill The Rat Humanely

Most countries and U.S. states permit the killing of rats as a pest control method, but not all. For example, the District of Colombia (Washington DC) requires that wild rats are released.

So, always checks the laws in your state or city before deciding how to proceed.

If you opt to kill the rat, do it safely, quickly, and humanely. If you hit the rat with a heavy, blunt object, this will kill it instantly. If you do it right, this will avoid prolonging any suffering.

Wear gloves and protective clothing when handling the rat to prevent disease transfer and painful bites. Rats carry hantavirus, lymphocytic choriomeningitis, leptospirosis, and Tularemia.

what to do with rat caught in live trap

Relocate And Release The Rat

If you’re mindful of animal welfare and/or strict laws in your state, you may relocate and release the rat 3+ miles from your home.

It’s rare for rats to venture more than 300 feet away from the home to pursue food and water. So, releasing a wild rat into the wild will ensure that it doesn’t return.

Pest Control Services

Budget allowing, consider hiring a local pest control company. This is a good option if you fear rats, don’t like dealing with rats, or are concerned about exposing yourself to sickness and disease.

This removes the need to step out of your comfort zone by killing or relocating the rat. Also, an expert will advise on rat-proofing your home to prevent future rodent problems.

What To Do With A Rat Caught In A Live Trap?

If you catch a rat in a live trap, you can kill it or humanely release it into the wild.

According to the University of Iowa, a rat caught in a live trap will likely scream and squeal because it can’t escape and is in unfamiliar territory.

You should get rid of the rat immediately to prevent it from alerting other rats, which is essential if you’re dealing with a much larger rodent infestation.

Is Killing Rats Cruel?

Killing rats can be cruel, but that’s not always the case.

It depends on how you go about killing the rodent. It can be harsh if you subject the rat to prolonged pain, such as drowning, poisoning, or freezing.

To avoid unnecessary cruelty, kill the captured rat by hitting its head with a blunt object. A heavy blow to the head will kill the rat instantly, so it doesn’t endure a slow death.

Alternatively, you can use carbon dioxide gas to kill a rat quickly and humanely. If done correctly, this works much faster than poisoning rats.

How To Humanely Kill A Rat

If you don’t feel comfortable with one method of killing the rat or another, there are other methods. You can euthanize a rat with the following methods:

Blunt Force

Once wearing heavy gloves and protective clothing, hold the rat, aim, and hit its head with a heavy object, like a hammer or mallet. Clearly, this carries a risk if done incorrectly.

Carbon Dioxide Gas

According to Boston University, you can kill a rat humanely through euthanasia. This process involves exposing the rat to carbon dioxide gas for a quick and painless death.

After putting on protective gloves, put the rat in an airtight plastic container. Mix white vinegar with baking soda to create the CO2 gas, and put the mixture in the container.

The rat will die soon after inhaling this high carbon dioxide gas concentration.

how far away should you release a trapped rat?

Snap Traps

If you don’t like the idea of personally striking the rat with a heavy object, consider setting up snap traps. These deliver a blow to the rat’s head without your active involvement, causing instant death.

Electronic Traps

Electronic traps work by electrocuting trapped rats instantly. They’re ideal for trapping significant rodent populations. For example, a single electronic trap can catch and hold nearly 50 rats.

Is It Illegal To Catch And Release Rats?

It’s not illegal to catch and release rats since most jurisdictions consider them pests rather than wildlife.

If you catch a rat and want to release it, ensure you do so away from human dwellings. This will prevent it from returning to your home or relocating to your neighbors’ property.

How Far Away Should You Release A Trapped Rat?

Some people recommend that you release a trapped rat at least 100 yards away from your home or other human settlements. However, the chances of the rat returning to your home are high.

Relocate and release the captured rat 3+ miles from your home and other urban dwellings. Check that releasing rats is legal in your state, as some towns and cities have major rodent problems.

The area should be wooded with plenty of natural food and water sources. It should have leaves, shrubs, and bushes where the rats can nest and protect themselves from predators.

How you deal with captured rats will depend on your moral stance and the laws in your local area.