How to Get Rid of Rats in Attic

Getting rid of the rats in attic might be easier than expected. Following these crucial steps will help you choose the correct actions and tools to finish the job in one try. More than anything else, it’s a waiting game, and the winner is the most strategical player.

Or call an expert which will charge you a few hundred bucks, pushing a quarterly subscription, leaving with unfinished business. They will invoke various reasons, like rat poison resistance, or the job was done but new rats moved in, etc…

Save yourself from the hassle and do things the right way!

Rat-proof your attic before anything else


If you have roof rats in attic, there’s a high chance that they gain access from outside. Excellent climbers, roof rats will take advantage of every opportunity to get inside, especially when food is available or the weather turns cold. Knowing this, the first step is to rat-proof your entire attic. Closing all their entry points should be the first concern.

If this step is not completed first, or done improperly, all the trapping could be in vain. Since rats can climb even straight walls, it will be only a matter of time until they reclaim the attic. Rats can crawl through half an inch holes, and a meticulously inspection of the roof is required; from inside and outside.

Evaluate the situation

The next step is to find out as much information as possible about the infestation:

  • Main feeding placesrat entry point
  • Entry points
  • Movement routes
  • Individuals count
  • Nesting spots
  • Any other info could be vital


This information will prove to be extremely important later, when you need to set the traps. Setting the traps in incorrect position or wrong places, could spell disaster, since rats are shy and careful around new objects. Learning to associate danger with the new object, will keep them away from traps, leaving you with a hole in the budget and in the attic floor and walls.

Individuals Count

This is not easy to get, since you can’t just count them, but you can make a pretty good estimated guess knowing some basic factors.

rat droppings

Droppings of house mouse (left), roof rat (center), and Norway rat (right). Photo by William Gelling.

  1. Rat droppings. Rats can leave up to 40 droppings after a night, and they tend to leave them in the same usual places. Make a visual impression about this every night; it’s not a desirable picture but it’s one of the best methods. Depending on the growing rate of droppings, you can tell there are more or less rats.
  2. Gnawing and scratching marks. The more you see them, the higher the count of roof rats in attic. Identifying the scratching marks will give you an excellent hint of their main nesting and feeding places.
  3. Food disappearing. Place clean food where rats tend to feed. This has two major benefits. You read well, benefits:
    First you may observe the quantity of food missing every night and make an estimation about their numbers.
    Second you get the rats to feed on particular bait and place, making them less shy when presented the bait in a trap.
Nesting spots 

Rats build their nests in hidden places, with materials found on the spot. For this purpose they gnaw on almost everything, dealing important house damage, even to its structure sometimes.To successfully identify their nests, look first for the building materials: cardboard pieces, sawdust, or any other unusual clump of raw materials.

Movement routes 

Easy to identify because of the smear marks they leave on walls and objects. Rats tend to move alongside walls, in short trips, hiding after each object in the path. They learn a route so well, that if a new object is placed on path, they will often become suspicious and would try to avoid that route. Choosing the location of traps with great care is recommended, this is one of the most important aspect of trapping roof rats in attic.

Choosing the right approach and traps combination

After all rats habits, movement paths and feeding spots are successfully mapped, it’s time to place the traps. We strongly advice not to use poison. Experts claim that poison will make rats thirsty, and they will die outside looking for water sources. Not entirely wrong, but it won’t work in most case scenarios. Instead, the rats will die in the attic, or even worse, in hidden places like fake walls or ceiling, unreachable for disposing. The rotting smell will persist more than a week, leaving you with a bad experience. We will talk more about rat poison in this article.

What traps should one use?

Our recommendations to dispose of roof rats in attic are electric traps, with complementary glue traps or snap traps.

Electric traps functionality and setups are well explained here. Just be 100% sure you set them in proper places for maximum efficiency. Always wear gloves when handling the traps and baits, and always place them in a way that facilitates rats access. This means traps should be placed lengthwise along walls, so the rat could not go past it. Another important aspect is to resist the urge of setting the traps right after purchase. Place first the traps inactive, but with bait inside, leaving rats in attic the time to get used with the new object. Only after you observe the food is consistently taken every night, set the traps active.

Glue traps or snap traps should be placed in inaccessible areas for larger traps, such as supporting beams or pipes. One might think they would be an unnecessary acquisition, but they are extremely effective at catching the resilient individuals. With all your efforts, some of the rats in attic will eventually learn to avoid a large electric trap, making a low profile trap the ultimate solution.

Replacing the electric traps with cage traps would be a humane trapping method, but not advisable when dealing with a larger colony. The pheromones released by a stressed rat trapped in a cage will alert the others to avoid the danger, leaving the cage ineffective after a while.

Sealing the deal

Depending of the size of the colony, the entire process could last a couple of weeks, including the pre-baiting chapter, when all the traps are inactive. We can’t stress enough about the importance of some crucial factors; leaving even the tiniest thing at random could reset the whole process. If done correctly, these simple steps will answer the question of how to get rid of rats in attic.

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