How to Get Rid of Rats in the Attic
I built this website as a resource for people who want to
get rid of a rat problem. I am a rodent control expert with
15 years of experience, and I am friends with hundreds of
other rodent removal experts. This website provides
practical tips and resources for you to solve any problem
you may have with a rat in your attic or building.
Why get rid of rats? Well, for starters, they spread diseases.
Some people just don't like hearing noises in the attic at
night. But they can also cause quite a bit of damage
with their chewing and with the feces
they leave behind. But solving a rat problem is not simple!
I'm going to outline your various options below, so that you
can make an informed decision about how to solve your rat
problem in your attic or home.
Option 1 - DO IT YOURSELF
If you want to get rid of rats in the attic, you need to
follow a series of steps:
STEP 1: Find out how rats are getting inside the
building. This is absolutely crucial! Those rats are
entering your home and attic somehow. You will NEVER solve
your rat problem unless you find ALL the entry points. Every
single last one. One little failure, one missed spot, and
you will have rats in your attic or house forever. You must
inspect the whole structure, from the ground up, including
all portions of the roof, and the plumbing system. Check
vents, eaves, roof joints, plumbing stacks, AC chases, the
chimney, EVERYTHING. You must be completely thorough. An
intimate knowledge of rat behavior and building architecture
helps a great deal. Know what signs to look for - brown
staining and grease at entry points, gnawing, etc. Also,
inspect in the attic, where you will see rat trails that
will help you identify entry points, and you'll spot rat
damage that you'll want to fix, such as gnawed wires or
pipes. Hearing sounds in the attic can also pinpoint areas
of high activity. This page will help explain the inspection
process in more detail: Rat
STEP 2: Seal up all the entry points. That's right,
seal them up first, even if there are many rats currently
inside the building. It's very important that you do it this
way. If you leave the entry holes open, and then begin
trapping or excluding the rats, guess what? Open holes mean
more and more rats will keep coming in, and the job will
never end. And here's another important point - the rats are
much easier to trap once the exits have been sealed off. And
if you intend to do an exclusion with a one-way rat door,
then you have to seal all entry/exit holes first. Read more
about repairs on this page: Rat
STEP 3: Trap and remove the rats. You have three
options here. First, you can use the standard lethal snap
traps. Second, you can use live cage traps. Third, you can
install a one-way funnel door exit on the primary rat
entry/exit hole, if you have identified it. I have used all
of these methods. I do care about being humane to all
wildlife, but when it comes to rats, which breed incredibly
quickly and have a very short life span, and have good
memories and gnawing abilities, I must say that I absolutely
do use the lethal snap traps in the attic. I have found this
method is to be the most effective, and it's more humane
than a slow, painful death by poisoning. Set the traps on
the rodent runways, not haphazardly. Trap placement is
absolutely key. Bait doesn't even matter, but I do use
peanut butter on my trap pans. Brand of trap does matter,
and I like the old Victor wooden traps. Check the traps
frequently and remove and dispose of any trapped rats, to
avoid odor problems. Read more about the art of rat trapping
To Trap Rats.
Animal Lovers Take Note: If you catch
rats alive and relocate them outside, or if you block them
out of the attic, studies have proven that without their
normal home and shelter, they die or fall to predators
very quickly. Thus, trying to get rats out of the attic
alive is pointless. I am confident that my method is the
most humane approach reasonably possible.
STEP 4: Clean up after the rats. It's important that
you decontaminate and deodorize the attic after you have
removed the rats. Rats and rat feces can cause various
health problems. Learn more about: Rat
Diseases. Rats leave behind a strong pheromone scent
which attracts new rats to the attic. This scent is in the
urine and gland grease that rats leave behind. This scent
encourages new rats to gnaw their way into your attic, so
it's important to get rid of this scent. And other animals,
such as snakes, track this scent too. I wear full biohazard
gear and HEPA filter mask and vacuum up the droppings,
replace soiled insulation, and fog the whole attic with a
special enzyme-based cleaner that kills the germs,
pathogens, mold, and scent of the poop and urine. Read more
about the process: Rat
I should mention that the principles here also apply to all
rodents, including how to get rid of mice in the attic. A
mouse can be a little easier to trap than a rat, but using
these principles, it doesn't matter. Mice behave in the same
way, so to get rid of a mouse, do the same things, just be
aware that they can get in even smaller holes, like the size
of a dime, and that you need to use smaller mouse traps.
Removing a mouse in the attic can be even more challenging
than rats. I have made this website: how
to get rid of mice in the attic to address mice.
Option 2 - HIRE A PROFESSIONAL
Rat control work is definitely not easy! The instructions
above are correct, but doing the job correctly is very
difficult. Experience matters a whole lot! I did many rat
jobs, dozens of jobs over my first couple of years, and even
though I'm very observant and careful and hard-working, I
messed up again and again, and my customers continued to
have rat problems, and I had to re-do my jobs over and over.
It wasn't until I had a LOT of experience under my belt that
I got good at solving rat problems in attics and buildings
PERMANENTLY. I honestly recommend that you hire a seasoned
professional to do your rat control work. And for goodness'
sake DO NOT hire a regular exterminator
company or your usual pest
control company. They will just throw some poison in
the attic, and try to sign you up for a never-ending monthly
or quarterly contract. They WANT to NEVER solve the problem,
so they can keep charging you. You want a wildlife control
professional who will stop the source of the problem, and
seal off all entry points. I have compiled a list of good
experts. Click your state on this map in order to hire a
professional in your area. This website lists rodent removal
experts in 657 different US cities and towns.
Here are some example cities: AZ
- Phoenix - CA
- Los Angeles - CA
- San Diego - CA
- San Francisco - FL
- Fort Lauderdale - FL
- Jacksonville - FL
- Miami - FL
- Orlando - FL
- Tampa - GA
- Atlanta - IL
- Chicago - OR
- Portland - NC
- Raleigh / Durham - OH
- Cleveland - PA
- Philadelphia - TX
- Austin - TX
- Dallas - TX
- Fort Worth - TX
- Houston - TX
- San Antonio - WA
- Seattle - Washington
Option 3 - HABITAT MODIFICATION & PREVENTION
There's a reason you have rats on your property and in your
house. Your property is in an area of the country that has a
rat population (that includes most urban or suburban areas),
and your property or house has features that are attractive
to rats. Most commonly, this means that your property has
food, water, and shelter. Rats like a safe place to live and
scavenge and hide and have a nest of young and store food,
and so on. A building makes a great location! It's warm and
dry and safe, and in proximity to food, and so on. There's a
reason rats are common in cities, but not out in the forest.
Take these Rat
The following remedies do not work:
- Eliminate debris such as garbage or compost piles on
- Seal all gaps, with steel, leading anywhere into the
- Don't leave out pet food or open garbage cans.
- Bird feeders can attract rats, as can fruit trees.
- A pet cat or two might help. But I have seen rat
infestations in homes with cats.
- Planting or spreading mint leaves - that's a myth.
- Use of rat repellants such as ammonia, mothballs, or
- Use of ultrasonic sound emitters (proven fraudulent by
- Use of fake owls or hawk decoys.
Option 4 - USE RAT POISON
So you've read this far, for some reason. Okay then, I'm
here to tell you something very important: RAT POISON IS THE
WORST THING YOU CAN DO to address a rat problem. Here are
several of the reasons why you don't want to Poison
If you want to kill the rats, click here for better methods
To Kill a Rat.
- It's not effective - Not all the rats will find the
poison, not all the ones that find it will eat the
poison (rats are amazingly cautious), and not all that
eat it will die (many have become resistant, and they
must eat a lethal dose).
- It's a temporary fix - even if the poison does kill
rats, new rats will keep coming and coming. Heck, new
ones will come to eat the dead rat carcasses. As long as
there is ample space and nearby food, you'll have rats.
- It's inhumane - you may not like rats, you may want to
kill them and that's fine. But poison is a slow and
painful death. Why not use much more effective lethal
- You'll wind up with rotting rat carcasses in your
attic or walls. If a rat dies of poison, it's going to
die in your house, where it spends most of its time.
Some poison sellers spread an absolute hogwash myth
about rats going outside to die near water. What a
crock! Several times a week, I'm called out to remove
dead rats from buildings, in insulation, walls, etc,
because someone, often a pest control company, put out
rat poison. A rotting rat will stink up the whole house
- it smells horrible.
Option 5 - USE RAT REPELLENT
Ha ha ha ha ha ha. You will find animal repellents of all
kinds sold out there. "Squirrel-Repel" and "Snake-Be-Gone"
and "Rat-Away" and so on. These products are totally BOGUS.
Go ahead and try them, try all of them, and when you find
out that these cheap gimmicks do absolutely nothing, start
properly at step 1 at the top of this page. Most such
repellents are made of naphthalene (mothball flakes) which
DO NOT WORK and which just poisons the environment, or
stinks up your attic, or harms your health! Don't use them!
Or the products contain sulfur or coyote urine. These are
the same gimmick ingredients used in all generic animal
repellents. They are a scam, and they do not work! I have
tested all of these products over many years in the field,
just to see, and they are all totally ineffective. I've been
to so many homes in which homeowners tried repellents first,
it's ridiculous. Oh, and forget anything that claims
"ultrasonic sound" or vibrations or anything, those have
been certified as grade-a scams by the federal trade
commission. Read more about Rat
Rat Tip of the month: What diseases do rats carry?
There are so many things to worry about when you have a rat invasion in
your property, and although damage is one of the more costly side
effects of these rodent visitors, the disease threat is often one of the
biggest causes of concern. Quite rightly too, as these are animals that
can bring with them a whole range of rather nasty diseases, none of
which you will want you, or your family members, to come into contact
Tamed / domesticated mice and rats will generally not carry these
diseases, but wild rats are known to spread or carry them, and they can
be spread to tamed / domesticated rats and other rodents if the two
kinds come into contact with each other. Some of the diseases that they
carry can also be passed onto your household pets, particularly when
you’re talking about problems such as ticks and fleas, and some of the
diseases can even be passed onto you and your family members. They can
prove to be especially dangerous for the elderly and young children, and
also those who are also ill, particularly with a weakened immune system.
Weil’s disease, also known as Leptospirosis, is often present in rats,
and infected animals will often show very little, even zero signs, of
infection. This illness is a bacterial one, and both humans and other
animals can become infected when they have come into contact with feces
and urine from an infected rat. It can bring with it some rather nasty
symptoms, and these include muscle aches and pains, a rash over the
skin, vomiting, a fever, headaches, and more.
The disease will affect different people in different ways, and those
who are already suffering with a weakened immune system will often be
among the worst infected. Often confused with the flu or a common cold,
especially in its earlier stages, it can prove fatal to some patients,
and totally unnoticeable in others. It’s just not worth taking the risk.
Salmonella poisoning is another very nasty bug that rats can bring with
them, and both wild rats and domestic rats can actually carry this
bacteria. We’ve probably all suffered with the bug at some point in our
lives, and it’s easy to see why it wouldn’t be pleasant to invite this
into your home. Causing a very nasty upset stomach, with vomiting,
diarrhea, stomach cramps, a fever, and more, it usually passes after a
few days, but some patients can find that they suffer with symptoms for
a few weeks. After being infected, symptoms will generally materialize
within a few days – 12 – 72 hours. The average time for symptoms to last
is less than a week, but dehydration can often cause complications, and
may require a spell in hospital. In the worst of cases, without the
right treatment, it can prove fatal.
Rats can pass on salmonella poisoning through their feces and urine,
much like Leptospirosis, and that’s why a thorough cleanup operation is
vital after you have had a rat invasion.
Rat-bite fever is another disease often passed on through rats, but,
just as the name suggests, this one tends to be passed on through a bite
from a rat. It can, however, be passed on through scratches, and also
through the urine and feces of an infected rat. Most people aren’t
unlucky enough to get that close. People would much rather run away from
rats generally, and the same works in the other direction – rats would
much rather scamper away than stay and fight.
Rat-bite fever can come in two forms – spirillary and streptobacillary.
The latter will bring symptoms similar to nausea and vomiting, a fever,
muscle pain and a rash, while the spirillary infection often brings the
same rash, but with a fever that recurs, and swollen lymph nodes also.
As you can see, it’s often the feces and urine of the rats that pose the
biggest problems in the realms of disease threats. That’s why rat
removal is actually the smallest part of the job – it’s the cleanup and
repair work that often causes the biggest loss to time, and money also.
You’ll be happy to know that those are just two parts of the full
service that we offer so you don’t need to worry about it.
Find out more about: What diseases do rats carry?
The Bottom Line
Getting rid of rats or mice in the attic or in any part of a
home is not easy. It takes actual work. It's a many-step
process, as outlined above. Don't be impatient. Take your
time, read the information on this site, and do the job
right. You'll be much happier if you do, and if you do a
completely thorough job that gets rid of the rats
permanently. Remember, rats can be in the attic, crawl
space, insulation, walls, ceiling, roof, living space of the
house, or several other parts of buildings. They gnaw on
wood and electrical wires and spread disease. Some people
just don't like the sounds in the attic at night, running
and scratching noises. If you don't think you can do the rat
control job yourself, go ahead an call someone from my
directory, and hear them out. Ask questions about their
methods and pricing, and see if you are comfortable hiring
them. Ultimately, attention to detail is the important
consideration when getting rid of rats in the attic.