What should I do if I find a nest of rats in the attic?
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If you have noises coming from your attic all of a sudden, there is a
good chance it’s a wild animal up there, and it could be one of any
number of wild animals too. There are a few well-known culprits when it
comes to animals in the attic, although the number one suspects are
usually bats, rats (or mice), squirrels, and even opossums and raccoons,
although slightly less regularly.
If you have rats in the attic, there is likely to be a nest of rats – a
mother raising her young. If you hear noises, you should investigate
quickly. One rat will very soon turn into many rats – hundreds if left
to their own devices for long enough. They will also start to damage
your home. Their sharp teeth will easily gnaw through wooden beams, and
they will chew through most materials. Electric cabling may need to be
replaced, and you should also consider the fire threat that these rats
chewing on the wires can cause, especially in the attic where there is
plenty of attic insulation lying around. As well as the fire hazards and
damage, however, which could run into the thousands of dollars to
repair, there is also the threat of disease. These animals have a
tendency to pee and poop wherever they run, and this not only carries
disease itself, but also attracts insects and other animals, and these
also bring their own disease threats and concerns too.
Even if the rats do not enter a “living area” of your home – sticking to
the attic and not the main rooms of the home, for example, they can
still pose a number of threats, and that’s why you cannot ignore the
problem. There are DIY methods you can use, if you don’t want to hire a
wildlife control specialist, but we would always recommend going with
lethal snap traps, rather than live cage traps. Under no circumstances
should you use poison, and this is even more so the case if you have
pets, animals, or young children in your home. You can buy “rat killer
boxes” now, but these still aren’t overly effective – it can take days,
and in some cases, even weeks, for the poison to have any effect on a
rat. They generally work to stop the clotting action of the rats blood,
causing internal bleeding. This can take up to 14 days to completely
kill the rat. As you can imagine, this is highly inhumane.
We would recommend that you consider using snap traps in order to kill
the rat, and to place these in areas that other animals and small humans
can’t reach. You should buy snap traps specifically built for the animal
you think you have. Mouse traps will be too small for a rat, and rat
traps are too big for mice. They might not do the job properly, only
partly capturing the mouse.
You could use live cage traps, but although you may think they were the
most humane option, relocated rats generally die only a few days after
they are re-released into the wild. Essentially, this leaves you with
the snap traps as your best option.
In order to find the best places to put your traps, buy yourself a cheap
bag of flour. Sprinkle this across the floor, and leave it there for a
few days. If there are lots of footprints in the flour, that’s the area
the rats are frequenting the most, and that’s the area in which you
should focus your attention when placing the traps. You shouldn’t place
traps unless you have sealed up the holes the rats were using to get in
though. If you do, the rats will just keep coming, and you won’t ever
get rid of the problem entirely.
Go back to the Rats in the Attic home page.