How to Get Rid of Attic Rats

An unfinished attic.

Attic rats are more than just a nuisance in a household, they are also a potential health concern. They carry diseases, contaminate food with urine and feces and they can bite. Rats hunt for food and shelter as efficiently as any small animal, and your home provides both of these necessities, with your attic often serving as a quite and rarely-trafficked hiding place.

Taking these steps will help you rid your house of these rodents and prevent more from entering.

Step 1 - Identify Your Pest

There are two types of rats that will generally invade your attic: the Norway rat and the roof rat.

The Norway rat weighs 10 to 16 ounces and its length is 7 to 9 inches. Its brown fur is shaggy and coarse. It has small ears and eyes, a blunt nose and scaly tail. Norway rats like to use paper, grass, or other soft materials to build their nests.

The roof rat weighs about 5 to 9 ounces and grows to a length of 7 to 10 inches. A pointed nose, large ears, and black smooth fur are indications that you have roof rats in your attic. Roof rats prefer to nest off the ground and are found mostly in urban areas.

A female attic rat can have an average of four to seven litters a year with eight to twelve pups in each litter.

Step 2 - Determine Their Access Points

A rat in a field.

You must thoroughly search your home from the basement up to find any areas where rats are gaining entrance. Possible entry points for an attic rat are windows, door thresholds, utility lines and inlets, rooftops, and downspouts.

Step 3 - Track Your Rats

Tracking the runways of an attic rat helps you find out how they are getting into your home. Sprinkle unscented baby powder or flour on suspected rat traffic areas to see the rats' runways. Also, look for droppings and smudges left from the rat’s oily fur. Attic rats can gnaw holes in wood and damage electrical wiring.

Step 4 - Seal Off the Attic

A partially finished attic.

Keep in mind that rats can squeeze through a hole the size of a quarter. Use steel mesh to seal any openings, since rats can chew through wood and even concrete.

Step 5 - Set Traps

Snap traps are the most humane and efficient way to get rid of rats in the attic. Rats are naturally distrustful of new things placed in their environment so you have to get them used to the traps before setting them. Leave a few unset traps out with peanut butter to make the rats feel comfortable around them. Then, after a week or so, set the traps to spring. This method allows you to trap a large percentage of the rats before they can reproduce and get scared away from the traps. Dispose of carcasses immediately.

These steps will help you rid your attic of rats and prevent them from coming back.