Rat sightings

Rats are pests that can damage structures, contaminate food and spread infectious diseases. However, rats are part of the city’s natural environment.

On this page

Rats like to eat apples that have fallen from trees. Photo: Jussi Hellsten
Rats like to eat apples that have fallen from trees. Photo: Jussi Hellsten

Food attracts rats

Rats are usually spotted when plenty of food is available for them, such as bird feed left on the ground, apples fallen from trees, or waste. Rats may also be more active than usual when there are disruptions to their habitat, such as construction and blasting sites. 

When their supply of food decreases, so do the rats.

Report rat sightings

Property owners or occupants are responsible for disposing of rats and other pests, so you should report any rat sightings to the property owner or manager.

You can report rat sightings in Helsinki’s green spaces and street areas directly to the Urban Environment Division’s customer service (tel. +358 9 310 22111) or using the online feedback system(Link leads to external service). For example, the feedback system lets you mark the spot on a map where rats have been spotted. From there, feedback is passed on to the people responsible for managing the city’s public spaces.

If necessary, the Environmental Health Unit will provide guidance on rat extermination responsibilities: kymp.rottahavainnot@hel.fi(Link opens default mail program).

Harmful to health or not?

Where necessary, the Environmental Health Unit is tasked with assessing whether the presence of rats can cause health problems. An Environmental Health Unit representative will visit the reported site to assess the adverse health effects, if necessary. Properties in the area can also be notified about the increased rat sightings and instructed on how to reduce rat problems.

If an unusually high number of rats are observed, i.e. multiple daily sightings, the property owner or occupant may be ordered to take measures to control the pests.  The Environmental Health Unit does not carry out poisoning or advise on how to carry out poisoning.

Individual rat sightings do not need to be reported, and occasional sightings of individual rats do not usually lead to action.

How do I prevent a rat problem?

We advise property owners or occupants to ensure that pests do not have access to food and shelter. You should feed birds in a way that ensures the food does not become available to rats. Do not feed birds directly on the ground, but, e.g. on a bird feeder and regularly clean up any seeds that fall to the ground. You do not need to feed birds when the ground thaws, as they find food in the wild.

You should remove the autumn apple harvest off the ground as quickly as possible, and any excess apples should be disposed of properly. You can take apples to sorting stations for the price of garden waste. You can dispose of small amounts with your bio-waste.

Pay particular attention to waste management on the property. Waste disposal must be carried out in a way that prevents animals from entering the waste bin. Waste bins must always be closed and intact. You should also inspect the bottom of the bin, as rats can chew holes in the bottom and use them to get to the food undetected.

Preventive measures

When necessary, rats can be controlled with various traps or pesticides. Control measures should be carried out on several properties at the same time.

Rat traps are sold to consumers in stores. The products should be used following the manufacturer’s instructions. When placing traps, you must ensure that they do not pose a risk to children, domestic animals or other wildlife. You should check the traps daily. You can dispose of dead rats with your mixed waste.

With the introduction of EU legislation, pesticides for controlling rats can only be purchased and used by pest control professionals. For more extensive rat problems, we recommend contacting a pest control professional.