Get to the Root of the Problem
Before even attempting to get rid of rats in the attic, you must first take steps to stop any more from appearing. First, and most importantly, you need to find out where the rats are coming into the attic, and seal up all entrances. Rats are excellent climbers, and like to creep along walls, so be sure to check everywhere, from the baseboards to the roof joists. Also, remember that rats can fit through almost any hole larger than a half-inch in diameter, so be sure to block any possible entrances, no matter how small.
In addition to sealing up any potential entrances into the attic, you should also do the following things:
–Keep a clean yard: If there is nothing there for the rats to eat, they’re less likely to be attracted to your house.
–Consider pruning any very high plants or trees that are close to the house. These often give rats a way into the warm safety of the attic.
–Take special care with garbage and food. If there is food, either for humans or pets, laying out in your house or yard, chances are a rat will find it — the same goes for garbage.
By taking these simple precautions, you can make sure that your house is not attractive to rats, and keep any new ones from moving in while you’re dealing with the ones that are already there.
Tackling the Rats Already in Residence
After you seal up all the entrances and make sure that the house is not attracting any new rats, you can begin to deal with the ones already in the attic. There are ways to deal with an infestation to fit almost any ethical view or budget, and all are effective to some degree. However, the most effective methods are the following:
–Snap Traps: Although unsightly, snap traps kill the rats instantly, are cheap and easy to use, and make it easy to remove the carcasses. Location is key in using snap traps, so be sure to place them along the routes the rats usually travel, which are marked by urine stains and droppings. Almost any bait will do, but cheese and peanut butter are old — and effective — standbys.
–Cage Traps: Cage traps take longer to work than snap traps, but have about the same rate of success without killing the rats. However, if you have a lot of rats in the attic you may need several cages, and you are also left with the problem of getting rid of them afterwards.
–An Exterminator: If the situation is really out of hand, or if you simply feel uncomfortable trapping the rats, there are any number of licensed rat trappers, who can be located through the National Wildlife Trapper Directory.
Other methods, such as poison or glue traps are not nearly as effective at rat removal, and are not a permanent solution to the problem.
After you are sure the rats are gone, you need to take the last step to clean and decontaminate the attic. Besides getting rid of any hygiene issues caused by the rats, cleaning the attic also removes the pheromones left by the rats, which could act as a signal to encourage new rats to move in.