If you’re the night owl of your home, then you’re probably attuned to all the sounds that go on in your home every night. You know the sound the furnace makes when it kicks on, the refrigerator’s low whirling noise and the wind rustling through the trees outside your window. But one night, you might hear something that is unfamiliar.
Some rodents, like rats, mice and racoons, are nocturnal, which means they’re most active at night. That’s when they come out looking for food, materials to build their nests and new water sources. If you work from home or stay at home with your kids, you probably won’t notice or hear the sounds of rodents scurrying around your attic, especially if you rarely go up there.
This can be a major problem when it comes to attics. Because we rarely visit them, we often don’t realize there’s a problem before it’s too late. A window may be poorly sealed, allowing a mouse to slip in through a crack, or a missing shingle may have given way to a small hole in your roof, an entry point that roof rats especially like to exploit.
Lucky for you, you don’t have to stay up all night to detect signs of a rodent infestation. All it takes is a little quiet and knowing what to look for. Here’s the answer to the age-old question, “What do rats in the attic sound like?” and other signs of a rodent infestation.
What do rats in the attic sound like?
Though you’d like they’d be too quiet to hear, mice and rats do make a lot of noise, and hearing them can be one of the first signs of a rodent infestation.
When they’re in your attic, mice and rats make several sounds. You might hear scratching and gnawing as they crawl around or chew on your walls and wires. You could also hear a scurrying noise as they move quickly across your attic. Chirps and squeaks are also common in mice, but rats usually communicate at a pitch that humans cannot hear.
As mentioned, rats and mice are nocturnal, so you probably won’t hear them during the day, even if you’re home and near your attic. If you do into your attic during the day, you might not be able to spot a sleeping rodent. That’s because it’s common for rats and mice to make their way into your attic walls and start chewing on the drywall. As rodents chew through the walls, you may start hearing them in the lower levels of your home.
In a way, that can almost be a good thing. It will help you locate the rodent problem and start working towards a solution. On the other hand, it does mean that your home has taken more damage than if the rodents were contained to your attic.
Other signs of a rodent infestation
Though it can make them easier to hear and spot, rats, mice and other rodents who have moved down from your attic to the main floor pose a number of problems. Most importantly, it probably means that your walls have a lot of chewing and scratching marks, and the wires in your walls may be severely damaged.
Ideally, it’s better to stop a rodent infestation before it moves into the main part of your home, and that means knowing the signs of a rodent infestation.
If you think you’re hearing what rats sound like in the attic but can’t be sure, here are other signs of a rodent infestation:
- Rodent droppings: Gross, right? In most infestations, you’ll find rodent droppings near food sources as well as in cabinets, drawers, cupboards or under the sink. If you leave food out on your kitchen table or forget to wipe up those after-dinner crumbs every night, chances are you’ll find rodent droppings nearby because rodents are coming to these spots for food.
- Chewing marks on food packaging: Isn’t it bad enough that rodents are eating your crumbs? If they are making their way into cupboards, then you will probably find chew marks on some food packages, such as boxes of cereal, bags of chips and boxes of crackers and snacks.
- Shredded paper or fabric: Don’t remember tearing up that pile of old newspapers? Finding scraps of fabric on the floor of your attic? There’s a good chance rodents are getting into these piles and ripping apart pieces for their nests. These are prime building materials for rodents.
- Stale smells: As you’re walking around your attic, do you notice a stale smell in some of your corners? That could be the smell of rodent urine. When it sits in a spot for long enough, it gives off a stale smell.
- Small holes in the walls and floors: When given the time, mice and rats can do a lot of damage in a short amount of time. It often doesn’t take long for rodents to chew holes in your walls and floors. If you’re unsure if a hole was caused by a rat or something else, check the hole for bite marks. That’s usually a dead giveaway.
The best way to notice signs of a rodent infestation is to monitor your attic regularly and get used to listening for the sounds of rats in your attic. When you know what to look for, you’ll be more likely to spot the signs of a rodent infestation before the infestation becomes too serious. Get into the habit of going up to your attic at least once a month and checking for holes, droppings, shredded papers and fabrics and other signs of a rodent infestation. That way, you’ll be able to catch a problem before it becomes a full-blown infestation.
How do make your attic less hospitable for rodents
So if you hear or see those telltale signs of a rodent infestation — or you just want to try and prevent a rodent infestation before it even happens — what can you do?
There are several things homeowners can do in and around their attics and homes to make sure it is less hospitable to rodents. You may not be able to stop them completely. A warm house is still a warm house after all, but with a bit of effort you can discourage rats, mice and other rodents from making themselves at home in your house, and you may never see signs of a rodent infestation.
Here are a few tips to make your attic less hospitable for rodents:
Get rid of nesting materials in your attic
As previously mentioned, rats and mice love to use scraps of clothing and old papers to build their warm nests. If you’re storing any old clothing or newspaper clippings in your attic, secure it. Move it into a plastic bin or container that has a locking lid. Rodents can chew through cardboard, so use plastic bins instead.
If you want to take it a step further, head into your yard and remove piles of leaves and deep mulch. At the very least, move them far away from your home so even if rats and mice make their homes with the leaves or mulch, it won’t be near your home, and it won’t be much of a temptation.
Trim your tall trees
So how do rodents get to your attic anyway? One popular path is to climb a tree and use the branches that touch your roof as a type of bridge. Then they find a hole somewhere on your roof and settle in your attic. If they need to go find food or water, that tree branch will still be there to provide easy access from your attic all the way down to the ground.
Tall trees look beautiful in our front and back yards, but they could be a gateway to the attic for rodents. But you don’t have to cut down your favorite shady tree. Instead, keep your trees trimmed so branches do not touch the top of your home. If there aren’t any branches, then rodents won’t have that bridge to help them into your attic.
Stop feeding wild animals
You probably enjoy seeing your favorite birds come to your feeders or watch squirrels come for the small pile of nuts you leave on your back porch, but leaving food out can attract other pests as well such as mice and rats. If they detect other types of food, then they may wonder, what else could be in this home?
You don’t have to stop feeding other wild animals altogether, but make sure you do it far enough away from your home
Seal holes and cracks in your attic walls and floors
Did you know that mice can squeeze through a hole the size of a nickel? Rats can push themselves through a hole no bigger than a half dollar. This means that just about any hole in your roof or attic needs to be fixed immediately. If there’s a way to exploit an entrance to your home, rodents will certainly find a way, and then you’ll be sure to see signs of a rodent infestation before too long.
Looks for holes in these popular spots that often show signs of a rodent infestation first:
- Windows: Seal up all cracks here using caulk.
- Walls: Cracked siding can lead to holes big enough for rodents to squeeze through. Use steel wool to plug the hole and then use caulk to keep it in place. Repair your siding so new holes don’t take the place of the old ones.
- Roof: A cracked shingle or broken or clogged gutters can lead to a hole in your roof. Check your rafters and eaves for signs of a rodent infestation or hole and then plug up any holes or cracks you can find.
- Attic vents: Vents can become man-made rodent tunnels if you haven’t protected them adequately. Check your vents for any holes or signs of weaknesses and then make repairs as needed.
For bigger holes, you may want to hire a general contractor to fix the hole and your roof or wall, but if you want to try fixing the hole yourself, use metal sheeting, lath screen, lath metal, cement or hardware cloth. You can find all of these materials at your local hardware store.
How to know when to call in a Natran expert
As all Natran Green Pest Control experts know, homeowners can do everything right and still hear the telltale scratching in their attics or other signs of a rodent infestation. If you’ve exhausted every option, then it’s time to call in a Natran expert.
The best thing about hiring a Natran expert to look for signs of a rodent infestation is all the experience and knowledge that you’ll have access to. Our experts have been all over Houston, and there’s very little that they haven’t seen before. They can help you go through your home from top to bottom and find places where rodents may be entering your home. Your Natran expert will also provide tips on how to discourage rodents from making your home their home.
When rodents need to be taken out of your home, our experts only use humane traps, and we’re dedicated to protecting people, pets and the planet. We are contentious about the types of products we use and we stand by them.
When you first hear scratching in your attic or notice signs of a rodent infestation, it can be distressing. You might feel that no room in your home is properly secured against rodents, and you might feel a little gross thinking that rats and mice may be getting into your food. This type of stress is normal, but don’t let it get to you. Call a Natran expert instead and we’ll help you get rid of rodents once and for all.
Share with us: What signs of a rodent infestation do you usually notice first? Share with us in the comments, and let us know how Natran’s rodent services can help your home.