Are rats smart enough to figure out that the poison is dangerous to them?

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Hello from New Jersey, I was hoping you could help with a few questions I have. We recently discovered we have a rat problem. About 4 or 5 weeks ago we began hearing sounds in the wall. Loud chewing, to be specific. We investigated in the crawl space of our 135 year old home. Part of the crawl is a dirt floor with stones stacked on top. You can stand down there, as we began to look around we noticed rat droppings in this one particular spot.

We purchased rat traps and did not catch anything at first. We began investigating and found a hole that they use to go outside and noticed our trash can is covered with scratches. So we realized they aren't touching the traps b/c they have a trash can of food right outside that they can get in. We then figured out the route they were taking to get to the trash can. We set a trap in the rafter with nothing on it, the next day we had caught a rat. I was really hoping it was the only one. I have been getting little sleep knowing these critters are down there.

After catching the one rat we heard some noise in the wall the next night. We had traps set, and moved the trash can so they can't get food from there anymore. We didn't catch anymore for days so we decided to go the poison route. We put dCon out, the first night two and a half of the four trays were missing. The next night the remaining one was gone, and the third night two and a half out of three trays were eaten. The next day we found a dead rat in the crawl. The dcon has not been touched since. I feel like I hear some noise in the wall still.

My questions to you are: Are rats smart enough to figure out that the poison is dangerous to them? It takes three to four days to work so I would think not, but rats seem to be geniuses. Also, what steps can we take to see if there are anymore, or how should we go about catching them at this point? Also, considering we heard noise about 4 or 5 weeks ago how many rats could there be at this point? We only got two so far, could that be all there are? Although, I feel I hear something in the wall at night, so I feel there are more. One more point to mention.....we cleaned up the droppings down there and sprayed a bleach/water solution all around. We closed up holes we noticed and reset traps with peanut butter. We have 10 traps set right now along their path. We raked the dirt too so we can see any evidence of them walking around down there.

Any suggestions to help with this problem would be greatly appreciated. Anything as far as catching them and rat proofing that crawl. We were thinking of spackling or putting a quickcrete over the stones down there b/c there are so many crevices between them. Please, any input would be greatly appreciated. I have three young children and I am losing sleep over this and so fearful the rats will enter the home and possibly my children's rooms. Thank you for your time.

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If you have any questions or comments, e-mail me at david@attic-rat.com