Rodent Prevention

Sanitation is rat prevention.

DC is a bustling city with new restaurants, lively neighborhoods, and beautiful riverfronts. While these features make Washington, DC, a great place to live, they also mean rats and other opportunistic wildlife thrive here as well.

You can help prevent rodents around your home or business by remembering these key tips:

  • Keep trash can and dumpster lids closed and do not overfill the can.
  • Bag your trash before putting it in the can.
  • Reduce the amount of food you throw away by composting. Learn more about food waste drop-off sites by clicking here.
  • Rinse food waste off recyclables before setting out for pickup. (Do not bag recyclables.)
  • Place trash outside shortly before pickup. Check your pickup schedule by clicking here.
  • Request repairs or replacements for gnawed cans by calling 311.
  • Inspect walls for cracks where rodents could enter and seal with mortar.
  • Inspect screens on windows and repair/replace as necessary.
  • Add metal weather stripping and trim to doors to prevent gnawing and entering underneath.
  • Pick up, bag, and dispose of pet waste in your household trash or a public litter can.
  • Store pet food and bird seed in secure containers.
  • Remove weeds and debris near buildings and in yards where rats can hide.
  • Avoid landscaping low to ground vegetation (like juniper and liriope) next to buildings.
  • Lay wire mesh under landscaping to prevent burrows. Here's a short video to show you how to install it.
  • Store lumber and other items on a rack with a clean, open area underneath.

Call 311 if you need to:

  • Repair or replace your DPW-issued trash or recycling can due to gnawing.
  • Report a damaged public litter can.
  • Report rat burrows for inspection and treatment. You can also request treatment of your entire block by completing this request form.

If you are interested in treating burrows yourself, dry ice is a safe and inexpensive method. Dry ice is available for purchase at many local grocery stores. For more information, see this flyer from DC Health.