Pest Control/Rats/Mice attic and Rats in crawl space
QUESTION: How long will it take to get rid of the rats in the attic?
ATTIC STORY: Back in October I was suspicious of rat droppings in my crawl space. I placed poison in my down stairs air handler. In November I found a dead rat in the crawl space. I immediately went on a rampage to seal up the crawl space. Then I hear noises in the attic and found small mouse like feces in the attic. I hired a pest company to remove the blown in insulation and put back insulation with Niban treatment to control insects. The pest techs said they found small feces of either baby rat or mouse and little tunnels in the insulation. I found the shielding on the flex ducts had been chewed and a HOLE in my duct board return box! I put a hardware cage around the return box, but vowed not to turn it on. The pest company put bait in the insulation along the soffit and one big bait box on top of the duct board trunk. We sealed up wire penetrations with bitter foam. I have gutters and the critters look like they can get in by the shingles around the chimney. I placed a barrier of glue traps around the crawl space door in the hopes the rats won't try to enter the house. I have not found any droppings in the house. I need to repair the roof and the HVAC system. The pest company wants to monitor the rats in the attic and adjust their bait based on observed paths. Is this a multiple month venture? Or could their be a resolution soon?
CRAWL SPACE STORY: I am the center unit of a 3 unit town home. The crawl spaces are suppose to be separate. The front is brick, but the back is brick layer with a wood for the two stories. Rats were getting under the wood between the brick. I stapled hardware cloth and mortared over the wire to seal the rats out. So far no new droppings. But I found that 3 of my crawl corners actually do connect to my neighbors and its difficult to seal off those connections. I have attached two pictures of one penetration to my neighbor. Any idea how to seal this off?
I placed Ramik bait in the back of the house at the gutters, sides, and garbage can, but no nibbles. I placed bait just outside the back gate (about 25 ft from the back door) and the bait is eaten voraciously. Am I going to win this war?
ANSWER: Hello Brian,
Sounds like you have tried some different remedies with some results. I guess maybe telling you how we find success and the process we follow for you to compare to what you have tried already might be a good starting point.
The key to long-term rodent control is to get the structure sealed up, trap down the population, remove conducive conditions and on-going population control and monitoring. All 4 of these need to be combined to achieve long term control.
Sealing the structure.....you are on the right path with what you have used so far. Hardware cloth, metal and concrete are preferred materials to seal with. Where you are going to have your most challenges on this is dealing with the attached units. The best thing would be to have all occupants/owners on the same page as I am sure they have rodents too. The whole structure, all three units should be sealed at the same time.
Trapping the population.....Traps are the preferred way to decrease the interior population as you can remove and dispose of the rodents more easily. When I say interior spaces....that means inside garages, crawlspaces and attics as well. Once you have no activity at your traps....then you know your exclusion (sealing up of the structure) has been successful.
Remove conducive conditions.......Storage, food sources and shelter are all to be considered when changing the environment to make the structure less attractive to rodents. You can find a detailed check list for this on my website goodearthpest.com
Population control from the exterior.......Bait in locked secure bait boxes is the only way that rodent bait should be put outside. Monitoring how much bait is eaten will tell you how heavy the population is around your home.
So you see that rodent control with long-term success is a multi-step process.
Please follow up with further questions if need and we can get to some more specific solutions to your problem.
Good Earth Pest Company
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: Thank you for response. Sounds like this is going to be a long battle over several months. My next question:
Option 1: Replace the roof and seal them out of the attic.
The roof has two leaks (not bad at the moment). My plan for repairing the roof includes new gutters with screens (rodents can't sit in the gutter and work on the facia board or soffits) and install drip edge metal on all the eaves (if they try to gnaw the facia board they will meet sheet metal). Neither of my neighbors have gutters. I could drop gutters since I think they are climbing the outside of the gutters to get to the roof.
Option 2: Wait for the rodents to be killed off from the attic and then replace the roof. Problem is, how will I know they have been killed off? When there is no new damage? I have new insulation and maybe I just wait to see if any trails develop?
As for the neighbors, one is ready and willing, but has no direction and uses a pest company that has not yet gotten engaged. The other I am working to motivate.
Your advice is appreciated.
Good you are working to get all the occupants engaged. One thing to keep in mind...if your neighbors hire a professional that simply puts out bait and the entire structure is not sealed off nor can you isolate your home from theirs...you may get dead rodents in your unit. Mostly in areas such as attic and crawl space. So if you can encourage them to get their units sealed up also that will make a huge difference and discourage the use of baits till everything is sealed up and even at that time baits should only be placed outside.
Interior population control and monitoring can be done with snap traps. Use peanut butter, anchor the traps with wire and nail so a injured rat does not drag it off and die where you cannot dispose of it. First place traps, unsprung with peanut butter. After the rodents have visited them and you have confirmed activity. You can set the traps to spring and put new goodies on them. It is important that you place the trap in the same location. A item that is moved...becomes a new item to a rat and they will avoid it for 5-7 days on average. Repeat this process till you have a week to two weeks without any animals visiting the traps when they are unsprung with attractant/goodies on them.
You can then monitor future activity by simply leaving traps out with peanut butter on them, unsprung and check them on a weekly basis.
As for your roof repairs....you are on the right track with that. The fact that you are planning to replace it anyway....it only makes sense to also seal up all the possible entry points as well. Keep in mind you don't want to block off any needed ventilation to the attic space. Using heavy screen materials there will deter rodents from entering. If you trap and monitor till the repairs are done....you should be fine to do the roof in the spring or summer when the weather is best for that kind of repairs. The rest of the house can be sealed before that and will help lessen the likely hood of entry. If you have any large holes in the attic area that rodents are currently using.....you can do a temporary blockade by taking chicken wire, balling it up into a ball and stuffing into the hole they are using. Some find that using some spray foam insulation to help hold it in there works well. The spray foam alone will not deter rodents as they can chew through it. Of course when the roof is removed for repair there will be a bit more work to remove those blocked passages, but that may be worth the piece of mind you would have from now till you get the roof done.
Any questions come to mind.....please follow up.
Good Earth Pest Company