What Do Rats In The Attic Sound Like?

Rats in the attic

Hearing Noises In The Attic At Night?

Everything is calm and the kids and pets are finally asleep, and then it starts. You hear scratching noises in the attic. They go away for a few seconds, so you think you may be hearing things, but then you hear it again, and again. Now you can’t sleep.

What could possibly be causing these noises in the attic at night? Roof rats! (Most likely.) If you have been hearing noises from your attic, there is a good chance that you may be dealing with a rodent infestation. For rodent control in West Palm Beach, FL, contact Native Pest Management to schedule a free rodent control inspection at your home or business today.

Roof Rats In Attics

Yes, you heard us correctly. Roof rats. Appropriately named, we might add. Roof rats love getting on your roof and they also love getting inside it. Especially in the winter when they are looking for shelter. But what could they possibly want from your attic? That insulation that keeps your family warm at night also keeps roof rats warm at night!

Roof rats are easy to identify because of their long tails, which are longer than the length of their body. They are smaller than Norway rats (thankfully) and measure between 13 to 18 inches in length including their tail.

If you see long cylindrical droppings on the insulation or air conditioning ducts, it is likely from roof rats in the attic. If the droppings you see have white tips on the ends, you’re in the clear – these are only lizard droppings.

Roof rats are experts at getting into attics. They are great climbers and are often referred to as palm rats due to the prevalence of these types of rats in palm trees. They can cause damage to your attic by chewing through electrical wires and cables, which can result in fires if they are not removed from the attic. They also contaminate insulation in the attic with their feces and urine, making them extremely destructive to your home.

What Do Rats In The Attic Sound Like?

The majority of the time we get a call about noises in the attic at night, people automatically assume it is from mice, however, the vast majority of the time it turns out to be noises from rats. But what do rats in the attic actually sound like? Is there a way to differentiate between rats and other rodents.

Since rats are nocturnal, you’ll likely hear the noises in the attic at night when they are most active. Rats can be very fast so you may hear it quickly scurrying across the attic. Since they prefer to follow the same runways over time, you may hear frequently hear the noises in the same area of the attic.

If you hear scratching sounds in the attic, it’s because roof rats like to create nests. While they nest in the attic, they get food and water from outside so they leave and re-enter the attic throughout the night which can create noise in certain areas.

How To Catch A Rat In The Attic

You may be wondering how to catch a rat in the attic at this point. First thing’s first, there is more than one rat up there. Putting up one snap trap just isn’t going to do it.

Often we’ve found there to be between 5-10 roof rats total in and around a home by the time you hear noises in the attic at night. Also, roof rats are a suspicious bunch. You could put some tasty peanut butter on a trap up in an attic full of roof rats and it won’t be touched if it’s not placed properly.

Rats often stick to their runways, usually with one side of their body along a wall or wood, often on the edges of the attic, near the roofline. Rats also like to run along wires in the attic.

A good way to spot their trails is to look for rub marks (greasy black spots created by their dirty bodies rubbing against things repeatedly.) Roof rats also urinate and drop feces randomly along their runways, making their detection relatively easy.

So you have discovered a lot of feces and rub marks in a certain area of the attic? Great, you’ve probably found an active runway. Time to get the traps out.

Since rats are suspicious of new things and have changing food preferences, we recommend using a variety of traps (wooden traps and plastic traps) and a variety of bait (peanut butter, slim jims, dried fruit.)

If the rats in the attic set your traps off without being caught, they will become trap shy and avoid your traps in the future. So make sure to place them properly along the runways the first time. Since rats often jump over traps, it helps to put two or three in a row.

Rats Won’t Go Near Traps?

If you still can’t catch a rat in the attic, it’s likely because they are happy with the food they are getting outside and aren’t interested in the bait you put on your traps.

Since there is food source in your attic (hopefully,) roof rats leave nightly to get their food outside. Some of their favorite outdoor food sources are mangos, bird seeds, nuts, and garbage. 

Successful rat removal requires sealing the entry points on the outside of the house to prevent them from getting back inside in the future. This is called rodent proofing or rodent exclusion. If you successfully can seal all the rodent entry points, the ones trapped inside will get hungry and will be forced to go for your traps.

Make sure to put enough traps in your attic! Since there are usually between 5-10 roof rats in a family, we recommend placing at least 12 traps in the attic. All the time we see people only putting out a few traps. This will lengthen the time it takes to trap all of the rats.

In a worst case scenario, rats that don’t get caught in your traps will get desperate and chew their way out of your soffit vents or other entry points, foiling your rodent exclusion.

Roof Rat Poison

So, trapping roof rats in the attic isn’t as easy as popping open the attic access and putting a trap inside of it. At this point, you may considering roof rat poison. Stop considering it.

Yes, it will kill some of the roof rats. No, they will not go die outside while searching for water. We have seen time and again where homeowners or inexperienced pest control technicians put roof rat poison and bait in the attic. The horrible smell of decaying rats always follows a few days later.

By using rat bait inside your house, you have no control over where any rats that eat it will die and decompose. Usually it’s in a wall void or other inaccessible area, causing a very bad smell throughout the house for weeks. Also, roof rat poison won’t solve the underlying problem of rats being able to gain access to your home and attic.

The real solution is to block the entry points on the exterior of your home that roof rats are using to get into the attic. When new rats in the area smell the old rodent urine trails leading towards your home, they will follow those trails and you will hear noises in the attic yet again.

While we never recommend using roof rat poison or roof rat bait inside your home, we DO, however,  recommend using it outside of your home in a safe manner once rats are properly removed from the home.

With the use of rodent bait stations strategically placed along the foundation of your home, the exterior population will be reduced. With fewer rats outside, there will be less trying to get back inside. We provide professional installation and maintenance of tamper-proof rodent bait stations for this purpose.

Other Animal Noises In The Attic

You came to this post in search of an answer to the question “What do roof rats sound like?” Hopefully with the above information you’ve identified the culprit as roof rats and are well on your way to getting the rats in the attic removed and locked out permanently.

If the noises you are hearing are clearly from a larger animal, it could be raccoons in the attic or opossums in the attic. We have dealt with both. With either of these animals, you’ll likely hear larger thumping and walking sounds. Since both have to leave the attic to access food and water, you’ll likely hear at night when that happens.

Recently we have removed ducks from attics (new one for us.) Like other animals, ducks will lay eggs in the warmth of attic insulation if they are able to access your attic. 

Another potential source of animal noises if you are in a South Florida city like Fort Lauderdale, FL or West Palm Beach, FL are from iguanas on your roof. Yes, we said that, iguanas on your roof. We have often found iguanas enjoying the warmth from the sun on areas roofs, and they can be quite noisy as they are moving around up there.

If you do indeed have these other animals in your attic or on your roof, we recommend calling your best local widlife and rodent control company at Native Pest Management, or by reading how to safely remove raccoons or opossums from your attic.

Rodent Control in West Palm Beach, FL

Now that you know what roof rats sound like, you may know there is in fact a rodents in your attic. But what next? Sure, you could go to the store and buy some rat traps and poison, but it will be much easier if you simply contact us.

Native Pest Management is your local rodent control and pest control company in South Florida. We service all of Palm Beach, Broward, Martin, St. Lucie and Miami Dade counties. With over 1000 five star reviews on Yelp, Google, HomeAdvisor, Nextdoor, and Angie's list, we are the top rated rodent control company in the West Palm Beach, FL area.

Call today to schedule your FREE rodent control inspection to reclaim your home from rats and mice.

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