What do rat bones look like?

Hello David, I came across your web site while trying to find solutions to a little pet problem that I have. I must say your information is the best I found so far, very detailed and loaded with solutions, unlike any other. I have some questions regarding a method of catching mice that might possibly be still residing inside of my walls and ceilings. I don't know for sure if they are there, but the smell in my house on the main floor ( two story, full basement and attic) is making me lose my mind; it's gut wrenching for lack of a better expression, we eat dinners in our bedrooms, I cancelled my tv programming because we can't stand the living room, where the tv is- just to give you an idea of how bad it is. The smell is strong musky odor, coupled with smell of urine, poop maybe and possibly rotting meat. Since killing the last mouse about 4 mths ago I have not seen any, there are no droppings.

I completely gutted my basement this summer and uncovered old empty nests, about 10 of them total. In one of the nests there were old mouse bones - they must have been there for years and I never new! I hired infrared company and we scanned the whole house top to bottom. We found tine cable holes in the basement walls that could be possibly points of entry for them. With a little camera we took some pictures of vents inside ( which were clean) and opened some of the walls. I sealed all crevices and openings from the inside with foam and special mesh ( copper?). I sealed every single vent opening and fixed loose siding, I removed huge planter box from the front of the house( found wasp nest!), next spring I will be tearing down my deck, which sits very close to the house and the exterminator said that they might be nesting underneath it as well. I removed shed from my yard and eliminated most plants and bushes. I have number of mouse traps - pro style - all over my house - untouched and poison both inside and out.

I am at my wits end! I live in construction zone, total mess and stench that I can't stand. I am supposed to be working from home, but every morning I pack up go to the office and don't come home until it's time to go to sleep. Let me tell you it's a mess. I am preparing myself to take down most of the walls on my main floor: brand new kitchen ( 2 years ), brand new bathroom, living room and dining room most rooms (recently re-drywalled due to the extent of my remodell) - complete with the ceilings since I can't pin point the source of the smell. I recently discovered that they were getting into my brand new dishwasher ( I took some of it apart yesterday and found bunch of droppings there - just thinking that they might have made their way to my fridge and possibly stove. Insurance doesn't cover mouse infestation:(. My concern is that if I start taking down the walls and ceilings I might scare them so that they run up to my second floor and possibly the attic. I have seen them on the second floor, even caught one in my closet, but nothing since last spring. David, catching these mice has become my life, way of being... I had no one over to my house for almost two years. I did not host any dinners for my family. I need your help, I don't know what else to do. That product that you use to eliminate smells is not available in Canada ( that's where I am ) and no company ships it here- I will do some more research on that topic though! Please let me know what you would do in my situation? Local exterminators were not much of a help, they came back three times, checked the poison - no bites - told me what to do what to look for etc. Is it possible that they live in the walls without coming out for food? Or even to hang out? I don't hear any scratching. You might like this one! My close neighbor who knows of my situation said this summer that him and his wife found a blotted dead mouse in the middle of our backlane and he was wandering if she/ he was mine? HHHMMM not sure.... I really hope to hear from you. Again thank you for your web site and the information you share. I never realized how many homes are affected by this problem until I was dealing with mine...Sorry if this e-mail sounds little different to you, english is not my first language:) Kathy

My response: Problem #1 is attempting to use poison. If you want endless dead stinking rats in your walls, then by all means, keep using poison! Next, there's no need to take down your walls, that won't solve anything. You need one, just one, thorough inspection of your house by an expert who will seal shut all mouse entry holes. Once that's done, problem solved forever. Have you had a true expert seal your house yet?

HI David, Thanks for responding to my e-mail! Put a big smile on my face... I have no evidence of the mice touching the poison, but you are right if they are there it would be recycling of mice over and over. I will remove all the poison I have inside and out for now. I had one exterminator come out he did not inspect the house, just pointed out some openings he was concerned about. I had the infrared guy inspect my property top to bottom. Are you referring to contractor or expert exterminator. I would not even know who to call... What do I do with the existing smell? open the walls? spray it?

Go back to the Rats in the Attic home page. You can also read about Do rats have bones? How can they fit in such small holes?

How Do Rats Fit in Small Holes? Do They Have Bones?

Rats are notorious for being able to squeeze into the tiniest of gaps and holes. These little rodents can cause a lot of problems for homeowners, and oftentimes, it can be exasperating to prevent them. They can find their way into your home, shed, or garage in many different areas because of their ability to get into tight places. How can they do this so well? Don’t they have bones that would not allow them to? Continue reading this article to find out the answers to these questions.

Rat Anatomy

Most people know that rats have bones. What they do not know is that rats do not have collar bones. Collar bones are usually the bones that prevent other animals from being able to squeeze into small spaces. Collar bones are not flexible and give too much resistance to most animals, which denies them access to these tiny spaces. Rats don’t have collar bones, so this gets rid of one of the biggest obstacles faced when trying to squeeze into places.

In addition to their lack of collar bones, rats are designed with tunneling in mind. Their long bodies that are both flexible and cylindrical allow them to squeeze through almost anything. They wriggle and almost “flow” their way through spaces, as they bend and contort their muscles and bones to give them clearance. On top of this unique, cylindrical anatomy, rats have very strong legs that lend themselves well to wriggling into small spaces. As can be seen, every bit of the rat’s anatomy has been optimized to allow for easy access into tunnels, holes, gaps, and as a consequence, houses. 

How Small?

Considering the size of a rat, you would think there would have to at least be a reasonably sized hole for them to get through. This is not the case. In fact, rats can squeeze through a hole the size of a quarter! Mice can squeeze through holes only a quarter of an inch in diameter! Needless to say, this is terrible news for homeowners, as even a tiny hole can allow these little rodents in. 

The Process

There is a process that all rats use to determine whether or not they can squeeze through a hole. They will actually come up to a hole and use their whiskers and nose to decide if they can make it or not. They have learned from experience since they were born about what size of holes they can fit through. Once they have determined whether or not they can make it, they will quickly wriggle their body through, pushing with their strong back legs until they have made it.

Now that you know how rats fit through such small holes, you can see why it is so important to make sure your home is protected from rats. While they still have bones, these rats rely on their anatomical structure to allow them to enter the craziest of places, making them a major nuisance for people all around the world.