Tips for a life free of rats
March 9, 2018 6:29 AM   Subscribe

My house has a rodent problem. How can I mitigate it, and cope in the meantime? Bonus dead rats inside D-:

So, my house has a rodent problem. The noises in the roof started around the middle of last year, eased off for a bit, and came back again. My mother had suggested putting baits in the roof, a suggestion which I resisted because I was worried that I was going to end up with dead rats rotting away above my bedroom.

For several months I thought that I would be better off trying to get possible entry holes sealed off, but had trouble finding a contractor to do this. Eventually the rat noises reached a crescendo and I bit the bullet and called the pest control company. They didn't seem to think there was any way to seal off all entry points, since rats can fit through gaps the size of a thumb. He did suggest gutter guards.

I ended up with baits in the roof. My mother told me that they don't usually die up there, they leave seeking water. But here I am with a rat (or maybe more than one) rotting up there. The smell started yesterday and is already so bad that I have placed mugs of coffee beans around my room and am currently sitting directly in front of a fan. My boyfriend might be heading up there tomorrow in full protective gear to try to find the bodies and remove them.

What else can I do? All suggestions appreciated
posted by kinddieserzeit to Home & Garden (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: I just wanted to add that there have been no signs of rodents inside the house, and I have two cats so I think I am relatively safe from this happening.
posted by kinddieserzeit at 6:31 AM on March 9, 2018

Be so careful that your cats do not eat or come in contact with any poisoned rats. it might be worth it to have pest control come in again and remove the dead ones and get rid of whatever live ones are up there now. May not be a good idea for your boyfriend or anyone not trained to go up there. Good luck with this.
posted by mermayd at 6:42 AM on March 9, 2018

Best answer: So there are absolutely services that will seal off the house completely, but as you've spotted, not everyone is up to the task.

The guy I hired was advertising attic cleaning services. Taking out the rat-filthy insulation, disinfecting everything, replacing it, killing any current critters, and sealing up the house. You have to get the filth out because otherwise it smells like home to them. A professional who does this for a living absolutely should be able to spot all the little openings (you can't do it yourself, you don't know what to look for.) I went around with him and he showed me everything and it was incredible how porous it was. And of course you are not (only) looking for openings around the attic but mostly at the ground level -- they scurry up inside the walls.
posted by fingersandtoes at 6:44 AM on March 9, 2018 [2 favorites]

oh and yeah -- baited traps are part of the treatment and you absolutely to have to get the rats out of there once they snap. You need to check them regularly after you set them so as to get them out before they start to stink. Hopefully your boyfriend can handle it.
posted by fingersandtoes at 6:45 AM on March 9, 2018

I would definitely call pest control. They might be able to clean out your attic and they will find and seal where the rats get in. It's expensive, but not as expensive as your house burning down, rats chew on wires!
posted by pazazygeek at 7:12 AM on March 9, 2018 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Call a different pest control person. The person you talked to didn't know what he was talking about. There are services that will plug holes, put out traps and come collect the bodies for you. Also, if they have made nests, they will clear them out.
posted by Toddles at 8:39 AM on March 9, 2018 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Yup, not every pest company does ‘exclusion’ (=sealing up all the holes). You need to find one that does. Ours even offered a 1 year warranty (ie if they manage to get back in, the pest guys come out and take care of it). They’ve come back 2-3 times, rats are gone. Not cheap though.

Don’t fool yourself with them ‘not being inside/only in the roof’. Ours started in the roof, went on to walls, under kitchen cabinets...finally when we were traveling for a few weeks, they came into the kitchen to snack on our food. Some cats are just not ratters which means they don’t care (my neighbor had the exact same thing happen, two cats in the house didn’t give a sh*t). Also, if they’re in the roof, they will likely bring bugs with them - rat mites are a terrible problem in my neighborhood. Plus, the mess they make...ugh. Get an exclusion done, it’s soooo worth it.
posted by The Toad at 9:13 AM on March 9, 2018 [2 favorites]

Following up: I had squirrels in my roof (not rats) so I googled "critter control" and "animal control". You might try that, as pest control is possibly more for bugs and maybe less likely to offer a service in which they get on your roof and seal up your house.
posted by pazazygeek at 9:25 AM on March 9, 2018 [1 favorite]

Best answer: As someone in a tropical climate who used to have a rats in the attic problem, I can empathize with the odor you are currently enduring.

1) You really, really need to plug up all the entry holes. Just killing the ones up there is a stop gap and will not solve the problem, unless you want to make a part time career of killing your own pests. I paid someone to do this, and it was about $500. Not cheap, but worth it, being able to see the end in sight of that creepy scratching sound in the attic.
2) I would NOT use poison, I would use baited (peanut butter worked great for me) snap traps like this. You want the big ones with lots of snapping power. Also, tie a string to the trap and then tie a string to a strut. This allows you to pull them to you, and also stops the rat, if not a clean kill, from running to a far corner of the attic and dying.
3) Check the traps daily. I climbed up in my attic every day, with a head lamp on, and a plastic garbage bag for any bodies. Rebait, reset, and wait 24 hours.
4) You must do this in the above order, or you're just spinning your wheels.

My .02 from one rat hunter to another.
posted by Major Matt Mason Dixon at 11:44 AM on March 9, 2018 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thank you, everyone.

I'm going to see if there's any chance I can get another pest control company, with a different approach to the first, out this weekend.

Otherwise boyfriend may still be going up today, then I'll be looking around for services which offer proofing and clean up.
posted by kinddieserzeit at 3:17 PM on March 9, 2018

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