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SeattleBrian 10-24-2012 02:23 PM

Pest Control: Exclusion or Just Trapping?

I have a 1903 house in Seattle with a rat problem. They're getting in the attic (lots of gaps). I've caught them in traps up there, and I've also heard them in the ceiling between the first and second floors. Attic insulation is compromised and needs replacement.

Here's my question. I'd love to do exclusion, but it looks tricky. There are just a lot of ways for them to get in such an old house. Further, it's a steep roof requiring lots of ladder work and probably harnesses. A couple of companies have said it's going to be hard to seal all the holes, and that they can't guarantee their work.

So, is it even worth it to try exclusion? Or should I just do trapping/maintenance? If I get 80% of the holes, will I have 80% less rats?

Thanks for any help,
(Seattle, WA)

user1007 10-30-2012 10:47 AM

Each rat will know and have multiple ingress and egress to the attic. It is certainly worth trying to plug as many as you can but with any compromise I fear you will not get far.

Trapping will remove them only temporarily.

Are you totally opposed to kill traps and exterminating them? Obviously they make a stink if they croak in your attic. If they are feeding outside you may be able to poison them there.

Have you consulted a pro exterminator? If this is a neighborhood wide problem, there may be assistance from your municipality to abate the rats. Frankly it is not going to do much good if you are the only person in the hood trying to deal with them.

ddawg16 10-30-2012 11:10 AM

Cats......hungry cats......

We 'used' to have a mouse problem...after they took care of the issue under our house....they started taking care of the problem around us.'s ok to let cats into your attic....don't lock them up there...but just give them access....when cats are around, rats and mice tend to find someplace else to live.....assuming they get away....

Side note....we have not seen or heard any rats or mice in several years.....then about 4 months ago, Josie (cat in my avatar) found one...brought it home to play had my kids screaming "poor mouse"....we just had to shuffle them away and explain "that is what cats do"....I personally don't like to see the mouse suffer....but....'cats will be cats'.....

user1007 10-30-2012 02:19 PM

Nothing against the idea of cat and mouse and Spikezilla (aka Spikemoto Schwartz and His Royal Orangeness), Gufus von Dufus, Cleocatra, Mitzi Soprano, Sei-Eh-Tee, and C. Ranberry were all great mousers.

I think introducing things like raccoons and rats to the equation a different matter as the cats can get hurt taking on larger animals. And larger rodents are more prone to diseases. A raccoon can rip a cat near to shreds in a few seconds and I suspect a large rat could do some serious damage as well.

Once to abate squirrels in an attic I had it sprayed with "Essence of Fox" or something. I could not smell it and it did not freak out the cats. Squirrels left in a hurry and literally lept from the gutters they used as pathways. There must be some equivalent for rats?

The key was then replacing ALL they had chewed through to block them from getting back in.

ddawg16 10-30-2012 02:30 PM

SD....racoons? I thought he only had a rat problem....yea....I would never put a car in the area of a racoon...much less an opossum....

We have racoons in our neighborhood.....our cats know to not mess with them....

Biblioscape 10-30-2012 04:00 PM

Excluding rats
If you don't want to risk your cats, you can buy dehydrated garlic oil/urea granules called Shake Away to repel rodents. Go to to see their products. You sprinkle it outside your house near cracks where the rats could get in.

user1007 10-30-2012 04:43 PM


Originally Posted by ddawg16 (Post 1041102)
SD....racoons? I thought he only had a rat problem....yea....I would never put a car in the area of a racoon...much less an opossum....

We have racoons in our neighborhood.....our cats know to not mess with them....

Indeed the OP only mentioned rats but we introduced the possibility of mice so I went the other direction in animal size. What I should have mentioned is that if you don't plug up the ingress/egress for one pest, others and especially crafty raccoons are notorious for expanding and using the portals for their purposes after other beasts have left. Another reason to be diligent about plugging all possible.

Starlings used such rodent holes in Central Illinois and became so widespread a pest blanket poisoning was necessary. It was beyond freaky with the birds falling out of the sky into daycare center play areas and so forth. Hitchcock would have loved filming it.

gobug 11-04-2012 09:17 AM

Close the rodent doors.

Traps are a guage, not a cure, unless it is something like a raccoon.

Rats cannot be eliminated as easily as mice. They may have a large community near by. The community must be located and removed. This is not a typical DIY job, but not impossible.

gobug 11-04-2012 09:26 AM

Rats need water each day, hence their community is located near a source of water. A rat community needs a lot more food than a mouse community.

Clear pathways to your house. That means tree limbs, holes, space under decks and porches, bushes, trash cans....

If you have rats, what are they eating? Figure it out. If you have a rat community near your habitat, they are finding plenty of food. Eliminate the source. That could be an alley trash dumpster in a city neighborhood. It could be dry pet food, bird feeders, gardens, pantries... Neighbors could be part of the problem, but that is more difficult to handle.

mnp13 11-12-2012 12:43 PM

We had a horrible squirrel problem in our attic. They were going in and out using one hole in our eves. We spent a fortune getting that hole patched. They chewed a new one right next to the patch in about a week.

Last winter I found out that our upstairs was completely powered by knob-and-tube wiring (long story) so we spent four months ripping it all out, then insulating and sealing the attic. I had one of those nasty little things sit ten feet away from me and growl and sputter for about 30 minutes. I was ticked, and my husband was bound and determined to shoot it... in the attic. Ummm... no.

We dumped a couple of boxes of moth balls into the eves, which worked short term. Then we got nasty... my husband is a police officer, and he emptied an entire can of CapStun into the eves. We haven't patched the hole in the eves yet, but we haven't had a single squirrel since. It's an aerosol spray, but is essentially pepper oil, and once the spray dissipates, the oil stays behind. They get it on their feet and fur, and then need to lick it off... i'd imagine it's incredibly unpleasant.

Depending on your state, it may or may not be legal. But if you are dealing with a space that you don't need to go into, then I would highly recommend it! Pepper spray will not injure you. It hurts a lot, but if you get it on your skin, just use ivory dish soap to get it off. If you get it in your eyes, use No More Tears baby shampoo. Part of academy training involves spraying officers at point blank range across the eyes, so yes, I know of which I speak. :)

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