Rats are just as much a part of New York City as dollar pizza, an unreliable G train and rising rent.  While most rat sightings are regulated to the subway tracks, these fuzzy rodents can be found on the street, on your stoop or even your apartment.  They’re mostly harmless, but they’re nonetheless alarming, and in some areas pretty aggressive.  And they don’t make the best roommates.  

I recently came across an article where the author attended Rat Academy, a city-run program dedicated to teaching New Yorkers about how to deal with rats.  After finishing the half-day course, you’re given a rat-proof garbage can, in addition to some invaluable tips.  Here are some of those:

1) Contain all garbage in a bin with a tightly-fitted lid.  If it’s open, then the food in your garbage can will attract rats.  

2) Plug up any gaps in the walls, whether they’re on the top floor, ground floor or anywhere in-between.  Rats can climb and can contort their bodies to fit through a hole the size of a quarter.  

3) Wash down sidewalks and areas where you see rats (or signs of them).  Rats use trails of urine and droppings to communicate, which can tell other rats where to find food.  If you can eliminate that trail, it will leave rats in the dark.  

4) Since rats can’t vomit, poison is particularly effective: once they ingest it, they’re finished.  However, rat poison is just as dangerous to humans as it is rats, so make sure that you’re careful when handling it.

5) Rats hate peppermint.  It might sound weird, but spraying peppermint oil is a great way to keep them away.  It isn’t as effective as actual rat repellant, but it’s more environmentally friendly, and cotton balls soaked in peppermint oil can be a great way to drive rats out of hiding and away from your house.