How to Get Rid of Rats in the Attic
Finding out that you have attic rats may feel like a minor irritation, however the damage these small rodents can do should not be taken lightly. Attics are an ideal location for rats, as they are safe, dark and quiet. If you’ve discovered you have visitors living in your attic, it’s important that you act quickly to remove them, before they cause any (further) damage.
The type of rat found in attics
There are two types of rats commonly found in the US, the Roof Rat and the Norway Rat. The Roof Rat is more common in warm areas and more likely to be found in attics. It is usually black in color and has a sleek coat and a long tail. Norway Rats are usually brown and are more commonly found in sewers and basements. Rats can climb on any surface and fit in most spaces and tend to breed very quickly, meaning that your handful of rats in the attic problem could soon become a widespread infestation. The most common way rats get into attics are through damaged eaves and vent openings.
What damage can rats do?
- Scratching walls and floors
- Leaving droppings everywhere- not only is this unsanitary, it’s also a breeding ground for bacteria and mold
- Rats carry diseases- putting you and your family’s health at risk
- Rats can contaminate your food
- They can endanger your pets by bringing in fleas, ticks and mites
- They are prolific chewers and can be very destructive, gnawing on pipe insulation, wood and electric wires- which can be a fire hazard
How to get rid of rats in the attic
One preventative method to keep rats out is to ensure your outdoor garbage bins are always closed, your garden is maintained and trees are pruned and no debris collects around your home that might harbor the insects that rats eat.
If you suspect you have rats in the attic, the first step is to inspect your entire home. Listen for scurrying feet and squeaks (especially at night) and look out for traces of droppings (usually grouped in a corner) and signs of scratching and chew marks, which are all indications that you have rodents in the attic.
After determining that you have rats, its important to fill all open holes and gaps to prevent rats from getting in. Simply poisoning them or setting rattraps is not enough, as they will just come back. A professional will conduct a proper inspection, determining the weak spots in your house, and will close all vents, rooflines and gaps that may allow serve as the entrance for your visitors. These entry points will be sealed with steel or a material that rats cannot chew through. This will also prevent other pests like bats, insects and mice from causing damage in your home.
Once everything is sealed, all the remaining rats that are still inside can be removed with rattraps. Using poison does not work for a number of reasons. Rats are cautious about what they eat, and will generally eat a very small amount from a single food source to avoid being poisoned. Should a rat become sick, it will mark it as unsafe to prevent the rest of the colony from eating it, therefore rendering the poison ineffective.
A rat that does ingest poison will go somewhere dark and isolated to die, leaving you with a rotting carcass as it decomposes. If a rat population is nearly exterminated, the remaining rats will increase their reproductive rate to restore their numbers. You should also not use poison because it can be dangerous if you have pets in the house or young children.
What methods of removal work
The most effective way to remove the remaining rats is with a snap trap. Mousetraps are generally too small, and will just irritate the rats. A professional will remove all the trapped rats until there are no more sounds or signs of rats living in the attic. This, as well as the sealed off holes and entrances will prevent rats from moving into your attic again.