Rats in the Attic


Rats in the US are the most commonly found pest in attics. These annoying rodents love invading attics and forming huge colonies there since attics are not regularly surveyed by homeowners.

Attics are like a store to old clothes and useless house material. For that reason, homeowners don’t inspect them, which can cause the problem of a serious infestation by dangerous rodents such as rats.

If your attic gets infested by rats, you may face serious problems, and rats can spread all over your house starting by ruining the roof, to damaging the furniture until consuming the stored human food. In addition to that, they can spread lethal diseases and make your attic impossible to be renovated.

If you are a homeowner who loves his house as well as his lovely attic, take this issue seriously and beware of these mischievous rodents.

Facts about rats in attics

Rats are rodents with a destructive behavior which can cause serious damage to any kind of property. The most common invasive species of rats are the Black Rat - also known as the Roof Rat - and Brown Rat - also known as the Norway Rat.

If you live in the US, your attic is most likely to be invaded by roof rats (black rats) and this particular species has special facts that you need to know:​

  • Black rats are nocturnal. They forage for their food only at night when all lights are off and they also mate at night. This nocturnal behavior can cause a lot of scratching noises which are noticeable and easily able to wake you up.
  • Black rats are omnivores. They like to eat meat when available, but most of the time, they use human food sources such as: food left in the trash, stored food… And they will also gnaw the wood structure of the attic.
  • Black rats are 5 to 7 inches (13 to 18 centimeters) long with a tail addition that is 2.6 to 4 inches long (6.5 to 10 centimeters) while brown rats are 8 to 10 inches (20 to 25 centimeters) long with a tail addition that is 7 to 10 inches (18 to 25 centimeters) long which makes the brown rat bigger and more scary than roof rat or house mouse.

How do rats get into your attic

You may wonder how rats could invade an attic which is in the top of the roof and form huge colonies there while the main rooms and the ground are not infested.

Well, rats are “professional climbers”, meaning they have sharp claws which allow them to climb and scratch the walls and also a long tail which guarantees their balance and helps them get to the roof.

Therefore, they are more likely to infest an attic than a house because they like to be not detected by humans and find a peaceful nest near to food sources.

  • Black rats are, as said above, “professional climbers” and they will gain entry to your attic through any hole in the roof or even an open window or a small crack in wood.
  • Brown rats are not as great as black rats in climbing walls, so they won’t take the risk and climb the outside walls. That’s why it is rare to find brown rats in the attic. If found, they are usually brought from the outside either in storage boxes or old clothes, or maybe they were infesting another area in the house and driven to the attic by the ultrasonic calls of their black mates – black rats.

Signs of rats in attic

Your attic is most likely to be infested with rats as the U.S government announces that 68% of old-designed houses that contain attics are infested with black and brown rats across the U.S.

For that reason, you need to beware of this major nuisance and to check your attic at least once a month. Maybe you will find a clue or a sign of an early rat infestation as listed below:

  • Chewed cables and wires: as chewing is the favorite habit of rats.
  • Scratched walls: Rats like to climb walls to discover new nesting places, and by that, they will leave scratching marks on the walls which are easily identifiable.
  • Rat feces: rat feces is the main sign of rat infestation, as rats consume a lot of recyclable material and drop it all the day long. Black rat feces is sausage shaped and ¾ inch long; brown rat feces is also sausage shaped and ½ inch long.
  • Damaged and gnawed wood or clothes: since rats like to gnaw, they will damage anything they get in their place, ranging from tissue to rigid material as metals.

Getting rid of rats in attic

Since rats are a threat to human materials and human health, it is better to get them out of your property and especially your attic, if you want to save your house from a total infestation.

Glue boards: Since rats are different from mice, this method is usually ineffective with them. Rats have a big size and some glue cannot really be able to catch a whole rat, maybe some fur will be left on the glue board when you come back.

Rodenticides: in this method also, rats are better than mice. Rats are smart rodents and they eat a small piece of the available food before they gnaw it all, to check if it is good to use or not. So, if the food is poisoned with rodenticides, rats will only get a small doze of this poison which is not able to kill them. They also mark the bait to make sure other rats don’t consume it. Rats are also resistant to rodenticide sprays which spread a strong poisonous smell.

Snap traps: Since glue boards and rodenticides are both ineffective to get rid of rats, what’s the solution? Well, “Classic is Gold”, and you need a classic way: Snap traps.

Snap traps are wood-designed traps which are baited with a safe bait such as a piece of cheese or a nut. When the rat inspects the bait and knows it is safe, it will try to eat it, but it will be trapped and the snap will catch and kill it.

Snap traps should be placed professionally, in a place near to rats most active paths and baited carefully to not cause any harm to humans or pets.

About the Author

I enjoy learning about new pest control strategies and attempt to share everything I learn at NeverPest.com to create a reliable resource for people dealing with all sorts of pest issues.

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