How to Kill Roof Rats

Roof rats are aptly named. These rodents prefer scrabbling around in the rafters. They often climb vines and other tall greenery to gain access to your roof and attic. Roof rats, which prefer warmer climates, can also spread diseases, such as typhus and salmonella. Setting traps is an effective means of killing your roof rats. But to completely rid your home of these pests, you also need to eliminate their food sources, trim greenery around your home and seal points of entry.

Things You'll Need

  • Snap traps
  • Fruit
  • Peanut butter
  • String
  • Gloves
  • Plastic bags
  • Glue traps

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Identify areas in your home where roof rats commonly go. You may notice droppings, smudge marks from the dirt on the rats' fur and evidence of digging or nesting. Roof rats prefer attics, ceiling beams and cabinets. They often travel between walls and between floors. Unlike mice, they are willing to travel several hundred feet to forage, so set your traps in an area that they may use as a pathway.

Bait several snap traps with bits of fruit or peanut butter. Do not set the traps yet; roof rats are timid when they find new objects in their environment. Prebaiting the traps, or allowing roof rats to feed from unset traps for a few days, can greatly improve your trapping efforts, suggests the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension.

Place the traps along the wall in the pathways you have identified. When you set a trap on a ceiling beam, secure it with a piece of string so that it will not fall off when it is disturbed.

Check your traps each morning. Replace the baits if the rats have eaten them. After the rats have had a few days to become accustomed to the traps, rebait them and set them.

Wear disposable gloves to get rid of dead rats. Do not try to reuse a trap after it has killed a rat; this spreads germs. Place the dead rat in a plastic bag and seal it tightly. Place this bag and your disposable gloves into another plastic bag and seal it. Dispose of the bag in an outdoor receptacle.

Replace and rebait the traps as necessary.

Tips & Warnings

  • Glue traps should be as effective as snap traps; however, you'll need to replace them after one to two weeks even if they have not ensnared a rat, as dust can render them useless.
  • Electronic sound devices and chemical repellents are not effective for controlling roof rats. Introducing a natural predator, such as a cat, into your household will also fail to reduce the rat population sufficiently.
  • Avoid using poison baits for rat control, because the rats will crawl back inside your walls or ceiling and cause a strong odor when they die there.


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