How to Get Rid of Rats in the Wall

Rats will live in any part of the architecture, from the basement up to the attic, and of course, in between, the walls. Sometimes they live and rat nest in the walls, and sometimes they just run up and down the walls, via wires and pipes, as they travel through the house, perhaps from ground-level entry points up to the attic.

In the photo above, we see a pest control operator about to set a trap for a mouse in a wall. Rats and mice rarely carve out such nice holes to live in, and so it's not so obvious. But what is obvious, in the second photo, is the stench of a dead rat rotting in the walls. It's actually very hard to pinpoint the exact source of the odor - it could be in the ceiling, under the house, etc. But a good pro will be able to sniff out the spot and find it. Oftentimes, rats fall down the wall, and can't get out, and then die. As you can see in the photo on the right, there's really nothing to climb out here, so the rat is stuck at the bottom of the wall.


If it's stuck, then you either have to get it out from above, in the the attic, or cut a hole in the wall. It's rare to actually have good attic access with a clear path down a wall. It's just not common in many architectures, or the wall is at the edge of the house, or in a place with no good attic access. But if you do have access, you can get the rat at the bottom with a snare pole, or lower a rope so that it can climb out. The other option is to cut a hole in the drywall. If the rat is alive, you can grab it with a thick set of gloves (yes, they can bite), but they're super fast and agile, so you can't let it escape and get out. You can also use a towel, or set a trap right at the hole you cut out. If it's dead, of course you just have to remove it.


In this case, if they can get out, and are just running along wires or pipes, then it's basically the same principle as rats in the attic. To solve the problem, you must seal the entry holes into the house. It's not feasible to set rat traps inside walls, so the actual trapping must be done in other areas, such as in the attic.


Wall scratching is always a cause for alarm. Not only do you need to determine what kind of animal is making the noise, you need to figure out how to remove that animal before significant damage occurs within your home. Most scratching in the wall is from rats mice. Other common offenders are raccoons and squirrels. If you were born under an unlucky star, you might have an opossum. Getting rid of the scratching in your wall should be a priority, but regardless of the animal responsible, you have another problem to address first: there is a hole in your house. Mice and other rodents aren’t built into a home’s structure. These animals find their way in through holes in the home’s exterior. Before you can eliminate the pest you have to eliminate the entry hole. Once the opening has been sealed, nuisance animal control can begin. Determining what animal is causing the scratching will be your next step. Mice and rats can be trapped with lethal, snap traps. Squirrels need to be captured in repeater traps or excluded from the house using a one-way door. Once the animal has been identified and removed, cleaning up the area is important to prevent alluring odors from drawing more wild animals to the house.


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 remove a mouse in the wall, mice in the walls, get rid of rodents in the walls, or how to get rats out of walls. You may hear rat scratching sounds in the walls, or running noises in the walls at night.
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