Rats Food & Shelter

RATS - FOOD & SHELTER are what they need from you!

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Rats like to live where people live and they can thrive on just an ounce of food and water a day.  Rats eat what we eat.  Our food waste is their favorite meal.  They also eat unattended and improperly stored pet food, fecal matter from pets, bird seed, etc..  That is why it is so important to store garbage properly.  Tall weeds and grass, tires, garbage, wood piles and abandon cars, furniture and appliances can provide rats with the shelter they need to protect them from predators, including humans.


Rats (and mice) gain entry into homes and public buildings:

  • Through breaks, cracks and tiny openings, smaller than a dime, in foundations or siding.
  • Through open or unscreened windows, doors, ventilators, sidewalk gratings and basement vents.
  • By burrowing under shallow house foundations.
  • By passing through openings around pipes or conduits entering the foundation or inside the house
  • Through floor drains, transoms, letter drops and fan opening.
  • Inside bulk packages of food or merchandise.


You can take the following measures to reduce the risk of a rat infestation:

  • Cover all garbage cans with tight fitting lids at all times, “It’s the Law”.
  • Avoid feeding pets outdoors.  If you must, remove any uneaten pet food immediately and always store in rat proof containers.
  • Remove sources of water.
  • Keep yards trash free and clean areas behind wooden steps, under decks or any other sites that provide shelter.
  • Clean up pet droppings on and around your property daily.
  • Pile wood and other storage materials away from walls and at least 18” above the ground.
  • Make sure windows and doors close tightly and place heavy screening on all basement windows.
  • Seal any holes in your home’s foundation.
  • Fasten floor drains to keep rats from entering through sewers.
  • When there is a rat infestation in your neighborhood you must discontinue bird feeding entirely.  Any bird feeding at other times must be done in a way that prevents the scattering of feed onto the ground and keeps rats and other wildlife away from the bird feed.
  • Do not allow yard waste to pile up on the ground.
  • Composting must be done in a rodent proof enclosure.


Baiting rats must be done by a licensed professional.  The Erie County Department of Health has a baiting program. Anticoagulant bait preparations are the most effective rat poisons for home use, but continuous feedings are required for three (3) to seven (7) days. It is important to make sure pets and children do not have access to the poison.

DO NOT TRY TO BAIT YOURSELF!  Remember, if you eliminate a rat’s food source and shelter, you will eliminate the root of the problem.

Working together we can successfully control the rat problem.

Rat control is everyone’s responsibility. Without continuing sanitation and good housekeeping practices, the results of a rat extermination program will only be temporary.

New York State and Erie County Laws require the use of rodent proof garbage cans with tightfitting covers, or garbage totes provided by your municipality, to eliminate the rat’s food supply.  Remove accumulated junk to destroy the shelter needed by rats to survive.  Rat proofing all buildings and homes in a neighborhood will prevent infestation.  Report dilapidated buildings and vacant houses that are open to intrusion.

Contact Information

To report complaints or request rodent baiting services please contact:

Erie County Department of Health
Rabies, Disease & Vector Control Program
503 Kensington Avenue
Buffalo, NY 14214
716-961-6800 (8:30 am - 4:30 pm, Monday through Friday)

Frequently Requested


Phone: (716) 858-7690

Fax: (716) 858-8701

Erie County Department of Health (ECDOH)
95 Franklin Street
Buffalo, New York 14202

ECDOH Locations

Western New York 211