How to Get Rid of Rats in the Crawl Space
Crawl space can mean some different things in various parts
of the country. Some people refer to an attic as a crawl
space. Some people refer to the area under a house as the
crawl space - this is, by my general understanding, the
correct part of the house to call a crawlspace. Still other
people will refer to other gaps in a house, even eaves and
such, as a crawl space.
Regardless of the area, the principles for getting rid of
rats in the crawl space are the same. First up, find out how
they are getting inside the building.
UNDER THE HOUSE CRAWL SPACE
It's pretty easy to crawl under a house and set rat traps.
Be sure to wear a filter mask, so you don't breathe in too
much dirt. The hard part is in keeping the rats from getting
under the house. If your home is fairly well sealed, with
only a few well-defined vent holes below the craw space,
it's a piece of cake - just bolt in some proper steel mesh
vent covers that rats can't chew through. If the perimeter
of the house is open all around, then you've got a tough
case. In the above photograph, you can see a steel screen
installed all around the perimeter of the house, to keep
rats out. I set traps under the house to trap the remaining
rats stuck inside.
THE ATTIC CRAWL SPACE
If you want to get rid of rats in the attic crawl space, you
need to follow a series of steps:
STEP 1: Find out how rats are getting inside the
building. Those rats are entering your home and crawl space
somehow. You will NEVER solve your rat problem unless you
find ALL the entry points. 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, EVERYTHING. 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. 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. Read more about repairs on this page: Rat
Learn how big rats can get.
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 must say that I absolutely do use the
lethal snap traps in the crawlspace. 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. Read more about the art of rat trapping
To Trap Rats.
Most homes with an attic will have an obvious access opening
in one of the bedrooms. This removable panel may be in the
ceiling or in the wall, and it may be located inside of a
closet or in another removed area. For homes with no
mentionable attic, there is often a crawl space between the
roof and the ceiling. Crawl spaces allow for home
maintenance of wires and ducts and provide a cushion of air
to help insulate the interior of the home. For buildings
with this setup, the ceiling space may be access through a
panel on the outside of the home. Regardless of the size of
the space, if one is there, a newer home will have an access
panel. It is possible that older homes do not have ready
points of entry for ceiling spaces. Creating an opening is
not as daunting as it may seem and can be accomplished with
the use of a stud finder. By making a small opening in
between studs the space above can be assessed. If the test
site was accurate, a larger opening can then be made to
allow a person to fit into the area. Care must be taken when
entering a ceiling crawl space. Step or crawl only on the
support beams. Placing your weight elsewhere may mean taking
a fall through the less sturdy layers of material.
THE SAME APPLIES TO MICE
Although I wrote this site with rats in mind, such as the
Roof Rat and Norway Rat, the same principles apply to other
rodents, such as the house mouse. Mice behave very similarly
to rats, they're just smaller. Email me if you have any
questions about how to get rid of a mouse in the crawl
space, mice in the crawlspace, and rodent problems in the
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