Rats in walls - please help


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Old 12-19-14, 07:48 AM
R
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Rats in walls - please help

Hi all - I am new here and would be so grateful for your help.

We have had a pest problem in this house since we moved in a year ago. We've heard a lot of scratching and pitter pattering above our LR ceiling. There is a soffit type thing where they apparently are. Yuck. So we contracted a pest company who has been here many times. First he found an access point (basically a hole in the side of the house into the soffit area). He set traps, never caught anything, sealed it up. Problem remained. He said there were no more access points and was stumped. When our other pest company was here to spray for spiders, I mentioned the problem. They don't deal with rodents, but he climbed up to the roof and immediately found another access point the other guy had missed. So we called the rat guy back out, he set some traps, and we caught several rats. He then sealed it up with mesh and foam, problem solved for months. Months later, rats came back. Always the same place we heard them in the LR over in the corner by the soffit (a lowered section of the ceiling above the window seat where there are some recessed lights). Pest guy found they had scratched through the foam and gained access again. He set more traps outside the foam hole and caught several more rats over a week. He then resealed it up with more foam. Well, it's now about a month later and rats are back and apparently they brought friends and families. Last night it was like a party above the living room ceiling - but not just in the one spot as before. Now it was all over the living room ceiling, and I could even hear them upstairs in the walls by the master bedroom. Needless to say, I did not sleep well due to all the noise. It was disgusting, and I am thoroughly freaked out. So far we have had no rats inside the house - thank god, but I am terrified they could get in.

The pest guy is coming back this morning - but he has assured us there are no other access points (clearly he is wrong). We have a very tiny attic. Pest guy has set traps up there that have never been touched, so pest guy says they are not up there.

We do have a crawl space under the house. He has said traps down there and caught 1-2 rats several months ago, but he said the traps haven't been touched since and no fresh feces. He did say that there are lots of openings under there and said that's true with any house (is that true??). Seems like a no-brainer to me that is where they are getting in. He said no since no fresh droppings and the traps are untouched. He also said there is no way to seal up all of the openings down there because it's all just insulation and cracks, etc. like all houses have underneath. No idea if this is true.

So - any thoughts or BTDT on how to get rid of these rats? We don't set bait because we don't want them dying in our walls and don't feel bait is safe with kids and a dog. Most pest companies around here only use traps. At this point I am wondering if we need to move!
 
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Old 12-19-14, 07:54 AM
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Welcome to the forums.

We have a good guy on the boards - PABugman - when it comes to smaller critters but I don't know if his expertise extends to rats.

My first thought is if the exterminator is not giving what you believe are satisfactory results, it's time to bring another one out.
 
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Old 12-20-14, 06:56 AM
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#1, find out how there getting in the crawl in the first place and seal it up. What to seal the hole with depends on where it is.
Is this an old house with balloon wall construction?
If so those walls are open from the crawl space to the attic.
Wood blocking should have been added between the joist long ago to fire block the walls.
Got a picture of the outside where there getting in?
Any over hanging tree limbs where they could be jumping to the roof?
If there in the attic then all that insulation needs to go. It's now all covered with poop and pee.
It also gives them a place to hide and stay warm.
 
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Old 12-20-14, 07:19 AM
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Rodents like dog food and they like it a lot. Are the rats finding the dog food either in the dog dish itself or in the storage area? Rats arenít shy about eating out of a dog dish. Also, are you or neighbors feeding birds? That may have to stop.
Rats also need a constant water source.

Otherwise, the problem that I see is re-infestation from a separate location that you donít have control over. Thatís a problem. If they arenít eating/drinking at your property there is still a food/water source nearby. They may simply be using your house as harborage as they feel safer there. The previous rodent odors can be luring them to your house, as Joe alluded to the insulation.

You can get exterior bait stations that are tamper proof and can be placed around exterior of house perimeter. I like rodenticide as it is quicker and more efficient than trapping unless you run a serious trapping program. Trapping isnít that common here. Rodenticide can kill a handful of rats whereas one trap catches one rat at a time. Trapping tends to catch the young and careless rats for the most part anyway. This part of PA is DIY oriented and donít want us to set/check snap traps.

Now that said, you can get exterior bait stations that can hold rat snap traps inside, sometimes more than one trap. That may be an acceptable option to you. This way you are setting up a buffer zone outside your house. I would keep traps set inside as well. I suspect this will be a continuous battle until the source of the rats is found. When a rat population gets large, such as may be happening nearby, the younger ones will leave due to the overpopulation. You may be getting the overflow crowd.

Consider installing aluminum (not vinyl) soffits/fascia. Even if you move, unless renting, you have to disclose to new buyers about the pest problems, I think. Also, you could move from the frying pan into the fire. Ask around the neighborhood and see who else is experiencing this. Note commercial/agricultural business near you as well. These may supply more clues as to where the rodents are coming from. Hope this helps. Keep us posted.
 
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Old 12-20-14, 07:47 AM
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Is it an attached house? Is there a high water table? Water attracts them as much as food. I think that you have to use bait. Otherwise there is no reason for the rats to enter the traps. I would try to seal the crawlspace no matter what.
 
 

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