How to survive rats in the Netherlands

Suffering from rats in the Netherlands? So, you just moved to your new apartment. You’re feeling a bit lonely perhaps, a foreigner in a new country. Fear not. Your human neighbours might not give you a knock at the door to introduce themselves, but your furry neighbours definitely will, even if a bit rudely and without permission.

Rats and mice have become big a problem in the Netherlands in the past few years. It is not yet clear what has caused such a spike in their numbers, but if you are living in the Randstad odds are you might get a couple of these unwanted visitors.

How many rats are in the Netherlands exactly?

Well, in all honesty, nobody really knows. There is no collective system to deal with the rat problem, and thus the issue falls on the individual municipalities. RIVM (Netherlands National Institute for Public Health and the Environment), has attempted to make a database of rats for professional pest control, yet there is not enough information to have an accurate picture of the situation. As a rule of thumb, if you see just one, there’s probably at least 10 more in your walls or under the floorboards (don’t panic, maintain composure and keep breathing).

What types of rats are in the Netherlands?

The most common type of rat you will probably bump into is the brown rat, also referred to as the Norwegian rat, despite its origin being from Russia (we don’t understand either). They’re around 22-30 centimetres long and are easily distinguished by their long, bald tail. They live only for one year, and to make up for it, let’s just say that the female rats really get it on, making several batches of tiny rat babies per year.  They’re adaptable animals, well-suited for the urban environment, and have a keen sense of smell. That helps them detect the Chinese leftovers you lazily decided to leave on the floor.

Oh, and they also carry diseases. Quite a lot, as a matter of fact. For the most part, you don’t really need to worry about getting any from them, unless for whatever reason you decide to grab one by the tail and let it bite you. In the Netherlands, the worst disease you can contract is Weil’s disease, which happens when you drink water contaminated by rat urine. The best way to avoid this is to not eat or drink from any foods or beverages you left on the floor if you have rats around. Even if you do get Weil’s disease, you can mostly treat it with antibiotics at your local hospital. You should be more worried about rats chewing electric cables and causing fires rather than getting a disease from them.

What to do if you have rats: prevention

Before we get to exterminating rats or disposing of them in a pacifist way, it’s best to think first of prevention.

The common practice to avoid getting rats is to make sure there are no cracks in your walls. Check your apartment thoroughly for any cracks or crevices, no matter how small. It doesn’t matter if the hole seems too small for a rat, because they will make it work. And if rats won’t fit in, their cousins, the mice, will surely do. You can use expanding foam to seal off any crevices, and for extra-measure, place steel wool in the holes, as the rats will not be able to chew through it.

Now the other step in prevention is to obviously not leave any food out in the open. The rats are a lot like international students, so they live off left-overs. Keep your food in air-tight containers, put bags of food in out of reach shelves, and hide all the cheese.

Let’s say that prevention has failed, and now these furry visitors are wreaking havoc in your household. You can either declare a violent war or attempt more peaceful methods.

How can I get rid of rats in the Netherlands?

You can always get the classic rat trap, yet as rats are intelligent animals, they might see through your deception, steal the cheese and leave the trap untriggered. Plus, if it does work and it kills them, then you have to throw out a dead rat right before breakfast, which might not be the best way to start the day.

You can find humane traps in pet shops, which trap them safely. Then you can just go to your local forest and park and let them loose. But, they may eventually come back to haunt you later.

Some people use poison, but it’s a problematic solution especially if you have other pets or children around. Some of the poisons are also bad for the environment, so it’s probably best to avoid them

Top solutions to get rid of rats in the Netherlands

Calling the exterminators is a more viable option, as they are probably the most well-suited individuals for the job. A quick Google search should take you to the closest exterminator services in your area.

The most natural of all solutions is probably to get another furry friend, namely a cat. Besides giving you affection when it feels like it and scratching your sofa, cats are also expert predators who love to catch rats and mice, so you are probably best-off to get yourself these tiny deadly felines.

I found a solution against a mouse in my room that worked twice in moments of complete panic. I played a video of ultra-high frequency sounds against mice and rats. Thankfully enough, they left, never to return again. I cannot vouch if these videos work equally for both rats and mice, but it is well worth a try.

Do you have any creative methods of dealing with rats? Let us know in the comments.

Feature Image: Vincent M.A Janssen/Pexels

Vlad Moca-Grama
Vlad Moca-Grama
Vlad was born and raised in Brasov, Romania and came to the Hague to study. When he isn't spending time missing mountains or complaining about the lack of urban exploration locations in the Netherlands, you can find him writing at Dutch Review.


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