Municipal rat control strategies tend to be reactive and short-term solutions, without taking account of long-term causes of population increase.

However, successful and humane rat population management will require support from local communities – especially in informal settlements characterized by low housing quality, poor waste management practices and inadequate sanitation measures. Such conditions create an ideal habitat for rats; consequently they require unconventional interventions like humane education as well as waste and rat-proofing in order to be sustainable solutions.


Local regulations play a pivotal role in designing and implementing humane rat control programs. Many cities have regulations in place prohibiting rats from certain spaces (e.g. milk operation plants) while mandating “any means necessary” in controlling rats.

At times, cities collect geospatial rat data that enables them to identify areas with high infestation risks and target them accordingly. Such information can help reduce rat populations; however, for success it must also take an integrated approach that incorporates other aspects of ecosystem such as building age, construction type and location into its analysis.

Some cities have implemented education initiatives to teach residents how to recognize rat issues early and address them effectively, whether through pamphlets, door hangers, websites, town newsletters, community presentations or community presentations. This approach can reduce social stigmas while simultaneously giving citizens more control of managing their property themselves.


Local regulations play an integral part in rat control strategies, impacting both detection and trapping efforts as well as how we employ various strategies to eliminate rodents.

Figure 1 displays our five search strategies that led us to select 121 studies (book chapters, primary research studies, descriptions and comparisons of rat control programs and expert commentaries on municipal rat management).

Municipal rat management codes typically seek to prevent or remedy conditions that facilitate rat presence and FWAH, such as rat-proofing requirements for buildings and garbage containers, restrictions against overgrowth in yards, as well as restrictions against activities that attract rats (such as lawnmowing, landscaping or construction).

Municipal programs also emphasized proactive management and citizen education as the cornerstones of their rat control strategies. They would often conduct “blitzes” of specific neighborhoods where they walked the area while speaking with residents, handing out pamphlets, and performing code enforcement as part of their program.


Local regulations often dictate which control strategies can be employed in a region; one of which involves applying rat bait. Rat bait requires more expertise and certification for application than other pesticide applications; therefore certified applicators are essential in this instance.

Impactful regulations vary greatly across regions and cultures, such as in the UK where rats are considered an invasive species that pose risks to both human health and the environment.

Due to infestation, various strategies are employed in order to combat them, such as conducting sanitary inspections to detect and prevent future issues with rats.

However, if a rat infestation goes undetected and unaddressed quickly enough, its impact can quickly worsen and lead to irreparable damages to food and structural resources as well as high costs. Therefore, it is necessary to develop and implement a long-term rat control strategy which will sustain over time in reducing populations down to socially acceptable levels.


Local regulations can play a crucial role in whether rat control programs achieve their goals at a municipal level, including zoning codes and land use plans.

Zoning and land use plans should be developed with residents’ interests in mind (see Khayelitsha rodent study below), to ensure any interventions take into account what residents perceive to be most suitable for the community and are relevant to their lives.

This strategy may have greater effectiveness in poor urban areas where structural and social issues create more conducive environments for rats, such as informal housing areas. Engaging stakeholders sustainably would ensure effective intervention design while simultaneously increasing pressure against this problem in communities across the board.

Review of municipal-scale rat control strategies in urban settings revealed common themes, including; objectives for control, scaling-up methods of reduction, management attributes, and evaluation processes.