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How to Remove Rats in the Attic

How to Remove Rats in the Attic

Have you consistently been losing sleep thanks to the irritating squeaks and gnawing in your attic? 

Rats in the attic are one of the most infuriating problems to deal with as a homeowner or tenant. 

These sneaky rodents are not only challenging to catch but can also hide just about anywhere. 

But here’s the good news:

There are plenty of proven ways to get rid of rats in attics – provided you understand the challenge ahead.

Although there’s no guaranteed way to eliminate a rat infestation overnight, following these few great tips will help get your attic rodent-free in a relatively short time.

Types of Attic Rats

typical roof rat

Typical roof rat found in attics

While we’re not too interested in getting acquainted with attic rats, it’s important to know what you’re dealing with so you can send them packing.

Generally, there are two kinds of rats in the US – the Norway Rat and the Roof Rat. 

Although both are a nuisance, it’s the Roof Rat that’s most likely to take up boarding and lodging upstairs.

Roof Rats thrive in warmer areas, including the attic. You can identify them by their black color, sleek coats, and long tails. 

Their less distinguished counterparts – the Norway Rats, are more commonly found in sewers and basements.

Both types are skilled climbers, and they climb on almost any surface and fit through most corners and cracks. 

Unfortunately, both kinds are also excellent breeders, so what started as a couple of rats in your attic can quickly become a major infestation.

Damage and Other Issues

You know that the longer you let rodents take up residence in your attic, the bolder they become in creating havoc on your stored boxes, old furniture, and everything else they can get their teeth into.

two rats climbing in attic storage


Here are the specific damages that roof rats in attic rooms can wreck:

  • Scratch the floors, ceilings, and walls
  • Leave their droppings around, creating the perfect breeding ground for mold and bacteria
  • Leave their urine on boxes, clothes, couches – anywhere – leaving an unpleasant smell and stain
  • Damage your wood, water pipes, insulation, and electric wires, creating a fire hazard
  • Carry diseases and pathogens that can put you and your family’s health in danger
  • Contaminate your water and food
  • Endanger your household pets with fleas, mites, and ticks

Use These Steps:

Getting rid of these unwanted guests can take time and effort.

But here’s the deal:

You can remove them permanently from your attic using these time-tested practical methods:

#1. Do a Thorough Home and Attic Inspection

Yes, you’re aware there’s a rodent infestation in your attic. 

Despite that, the first step in getting rid of them is to inspect your house thoroughly. This includes both the interiors and exteriors.

Why is this important?

Simply because for rats to reach your attic, they would need entry points, and a thorough inspection will allow you to identify these points. 

Check your roof vents, areas where the soffit meets the roof, loose sidings, eave vents, interconnecting pipes, and holes.

Practically speaking, to rat-proof your home, you’re first going to have to plug those leaks, so to speak. 

While you’re playing the sleuth, keep an eye out for where the most droppings are – these can give you clues to their popular hangouts.

#2. Repair and Seal Off Entry Points

Once you’ve identified the points of entry, you’re going to have to seal them shut to keep more of these unwelcome visitors at bay. 

And here’s the kicker:

Unless you are thorough about it, every other method you apply to solve your rat infestation problem going forward, is bound to fail.

So you need to ensure that all entry holes and gaps are sealed, whether you DIY or call in the experts.

#3. Keep Calm and Exterminate

setting rat trap in attic

This is where you go in guns blazing. Not literally, of course! 

Here are the different elimination methods you can apply to get rid of the pests for good.

Live Traps

As the name suggests, you catch them alive and in the act. 

These traps are small cages that can be placed in spots that your unwanted guests frequent. 

Now here’s where it gets cheesy.

You need to entice the rats into the trap. Use pieces of cheese as lure. 

We’ve seen that peanut butter works well too. 

Once you’ve trapped them, you can release them elsewhere.

Glue Traps

Another way to get rid of rats is using glue traps – a tray coated with a sticky adhesive. 

You may need some lure to get them on the traps. 

Once the rats come onto these glue traps, they get stuck, are immobilized, and succumb due to a combination of starvation, dehydration, and exhaustion. 

However, glue traps work only for small to medium-sized rats because large ones are strong enough to extricate themselves from such sticky situations. 

Snap Traps

Still wondering how to catch a rat in the attic?

Heard of snap traps?

These old-fashioned rat traps can cause instant death to rodents. 

You need to set the trap with a bait, and once a rat gets attracted to it and sets foot inside the trap, the spring-loaded bar comes down hard on the rat, killing it instantly.

But, here’s the catch:

Rats are born smart. Most rats seem familiar with the workings of snap traps and are shrewd enough to avoid it, regardless of the treats you use. 

The smarter ones have also figured out how to enter and escape these traps, treat in tow. 

Natural Irritants

If you’re keen on knowing how to get rid of rats in the attic naturally, here’s what you can do. 

Use cayenne and pepper, cloves, and peppermint oil and spread this generously around your house’s perimeter—these act as a deterrent, keeping rodents away from your property.

For rats already in your attic, use pepper spray or sprinkle crushed pepper in all the rat openings you find. 

Pepper irritates the nose and airways, and the rodents will soon leave your attic in search of new dwellings. 

Rat Poison

This method requires extreme caution, especially if you also have pets and kids at home. 

Rat poison or rodenticides are best applied by a pest control professional since they can assess minimal risk areas for placing the poison.

Call in the Experts

Enlisting the skills and resources of a professional pest management company is also a solution that entails the least effort and stress on your part.

#4. Clean and Sanitize

With the rats out, it’s time to do a deep cleaning of your attic to get rid of any unwanted baggage they may have left behind. 

Thorough decontamination is a must and non-negotiable—make sure you sanitize all surfaces.

Prevention Tips?

It’s important to take a proactive approach to prevent further infestations and keep these rodents away. 

To keep rats out of your attic for good, you can:

  • Immediately seal any holes and cracks you find with screen and heavy-duty caulking
  • Regularly trim ivy type vines or tree limbs near your property
  • Keep debris, including your firewood stash, stored in a shed—far from the main house
  • Seal your garbage correctly and dispose of it promptly
  • Store your food – fresh and leftovers properly

This video covers some great ways on how to look for and seal all gaps and holes that rodents can use to access your attic:

Frequently Asked Questions

What do rats in the attic sound like?

Rats are not known to be the quiet kinds, so the chances are that you’ll hear them much before you see them. 

Rats in the attic at night tend to be louder and more active since they are nocturnal creatures.

Expect to hear scratching and gnawing as they crawl around making merry, chewing on walls, wires, and anything else they can find. 

You can also hear scurrying sounds as they go about their business of laying claim to your attic.

While mice are known to chirp and squeak, rats communicate at a pitch not audible to humans. 

If you have a pet dog or cat, they’ll have noticed the presence of pests long before you do—so pay attention to their behavior as well.

How do rats get in the attic?

Just like with attic spiders getting in your house, rats are excellent climbers, and they scale outside walls or nearby trees and reaching branches to get to your attic. 

They can use any opening to get into your house such as holes, crevices or gaps created by misaligned building materials. 


Pest like these furry critters can be quite unsettling, and when you find yourself with uninvited rodents like bugs, birds, rats or even mice up above, you’ll want to take action right away. 

If left unattended, rats in the attic will breed, reproduce and multiply by the day. 

So, use the tips mentioned above and get those pests out before they make more of a nuisance of themselves. 

And if those don’t work, it’s time to call in the big guns, a.k.a. pest control service.

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