Rats and mice

  •  Downloads 2

Feral rodents

Common feral rodents in South Australia include:

  • the Black Rat (Rattus rattus) - below left
  • the Brown Rat (Rattus norvegicus) - below centre
  • the House Mouse (Mus musculus) - below right.


Introduced rats and mice are treated as a public health pest because they carry and transmit diseases. If they get in and around your home they can also:

  • contaminate your food and utensils
  • eat and damage fruit and other crops growing in your garden
  • damage your doors, skirting boards, furniture, pipes, wiring and cables.

Find out more about feral rodents.

Native Australian rodents such as Hopping Mice and Rakali (water rats) pose little or no threat to public health and they are protected species in Australia, therefore it is illegal to harm them.

Rakali are one of the last remaining large native mammals (apart from possums) that can still be found in urban Adelaide, including West Torrens. They are shy and reclusive and will not enter the roofs or wall cavities of your property like introduced rats.

Signs that you have a rodent problem

If you have a rodent problem the first sign is usually droppings. Other common signs include:

  • urine odours
  • a beaten path where they have developed a ‘run’ that leads to their shelter
  • greasy marks along the paths they travel
  • burrow holes around buildings
  • damage caused by gnawing
  • fruit and vegetables that have been eaten
  • pets that are more excitable than usual
  • squeaking, gnawing or movement noises in the walls, cupboards, and ceilings and under floors.

Avoiding rodent problems

How to deny rodents food

  • Rake up any fallen fruit and nuts from the ground and put them in your organic waste bin.
  • Keep chicken coops and bird aviaries clean and make sure extra seed or food is not left lying around.
  • Place household food scraps in a container with a tight fitting lid.
  • Make sure that compost bins are rodent proof and that scraps are not left where rodents can get to them.
  • Do not compost meat scraps.
  • Keep animal food in rodent-proof containers.
  • Wash pet food bowls after your pets have finished eating.

How to deny rodents shelter

  • Clear your house and land of all rubbish, timber, building material or stack it at least 30cm off the ground and away from fences.
  • Keep plants, shrubs, vines and other vegetation around your home under control.
  • Keep your lawns short all year.
  • Remove garden waste.
  • Keep your garage and shed neat and tidy.
  • Repair any holes or other access points around buildings, fences and concrete slabs.

Dealing with rodents


Poison baits are the most common and successful way of destroying rodents. Baits are recommended to be placed in roofs. Extreme care should be taken when storing and using bait to prevent children or pets contacting poison.

You can obtain rodent bait from our Service Centre at minimal cost. Always follow the manufacturers instructions when using rodent bait.

It is recommended that you talk to your neighbours about rodent sightings as there may be a specific area attracting rats (for example; an open compost heap, fruit trees, aviary or other food source). If neighbours work co-operatively to bait and/or trap, vermin populations are likely to reduce very quickly.

If poisoning occurs contact a doctor or Poisons Information Centre on 131 126.

Other control methods

  • trapping
  • sticky pads
  • live traps
  • electronic devices
  • licensed pest control companies.

Disposal of dead rodents

  • Ensure that dead rodents are carefully removed from areas where children, pets or native animals may access them.
  • Dead rats and mice can be buried in the ground or placed in your organics or waste bin. Gloves should be worn when handling rodents.
  • It is important to thoroughly wash your hands with warm water and soap immediately after handling any dead rodent.


We investigate situations where properties are attracting rats. If a complaint is justified appropriate action is taken.

Email the Service Centre or call 8416 6333.

Additional information

Find out more about dealing with rats

Rats and mice flow chart