rats in roof beams or the attic. These rodents can cause significant damage to a home's structures, wiring, and insulation as well as contaminate food and belongings. Figuring out how to get rid of rats in the house is a multi-pronged approach that includes an inspection of the premises, removal of the rats, and then prevention so that they don't re-enter the home.
Roof rats are superb, agile climbers and prefer to both travel and forage for food above-ground. They can run along tree branches, vines, dense shrubbery, and utility lines.
But don't be fooled into thinking that these are the only ways they can use to access a house - they're also known to travel on the ground in areas where there's dense cover, enough to make them feel safe. And they're great swimmers too.
Entry points into the house often occur along the roofline and through spaces where pipes or wiring enter the home. Roof rats most often inhabit rafters, attics, false ceilings, and the spaces between floors.
An inspection is the first step to determining if there are rats inside the home. You may have already heard noises emanating from the ceiling or walls, or seen evidence such as rodent urine or feces (although this is less likely with roof rats, since they tend to travel in high spaces like rafters).
Look for smudge marks along rafters or high up on the walls where they may be running about. The smudges are caused by the oil and dirt on their fur rubbing against the surfaces when they pass. Marks down by floor level might be other types of rodents, like mice.
Removal can be done in a variety of ways. There are several different types of traps that can be used, including live traps or a rodent zapper. Poisoned baits are common but not recommended - they can cause great suffering to a rat, may inadvertently poison other species, and rats may die somewhere inaccessible in the home, leading to an odor issue. A professional pest control company can help with figuring out a humane and effective removal plan.
Once the rats have been removed from the roof and other areas, homeowners must follow up with a preventive pest control plan. Essentially, all the things that make the home attractive to rats must be made significantly less attractive and less accessible: that's shelter, food, and water.
The immediate first step once the rats are gone is to seal up all entry points. Rats are generally cautious creatures and sensitive to any changes. That actually works in the homeowners' favor. Basic things that should be done include keeping homes, yards and gardens clean and uncluttered; storing food securely to make it inaccessible to rodents; disposing of garbage, rotting fruit, etc regularly; trimming back tree branches, vines, and shrubbery away from the house including the rooflines; pruning branches and shrubs off the ground to remove protective cover where rodents may hide; and ensuring that there is no standing water anywhere in the home or yard.
Rats in roof and attic spaces are common. Ultimately, the approach that yields the longest-term results and is also the most humane pest control method available is simply prevention and maintenance. If it's difficult for rats to enter your home and if food, water, and shelter aren't readily or easily accessible, then rats are more likely to go elsewhere.