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Common Areas That Need To Be Rat-Proofed
• How Do You Know If You Have A Pack Rat In Your Attic?
• Entry Points
• Tile Roofs
• Examples Of Bad Exclusions
Be sure to check out the Gallery page to see more pictures of pack rats in areas that need to be rat-proofed.
Rats love enclosed spaces where they feel safe from predators. Unfortunately that means they often get into places where they don’t belong and can do a great deal of damage. Trapping and exclusion (rat-proofing) is the best solution for keeping the rats out.
Common Areas That May Need To Be Rat-Proofed:
• Attics – An attic to a pack rat is simply a cave and a great place to live. Even homes with flat roofs have a small space between the roof and the ceiling where rats can live. Attics can be one of the most difficult rat-proofing situations we encounter and I devote a whole section to the topic.
• Grills – One of the most common exclusions we encounter. Rats love outdoor grills!
• Outdoor refrigerators – outdoor kitchen, complete with small refrigerators are increasingly common. Behind the fridge is a perfect place for a rat to live.
• Pool heaters – Many types of pool heaters are prone to pack rats. The rats can totally destroy the heater and prevention is a lot less expensive.
• Spas – Pack rats love to get into spas as much as people do. The only difference is they get into the spa equipment areas to nibble on all the wires and hoses.
• Air Conditioners – Some of the new air conditioner compressors seem to have been designed just for pack rats.
• Sheds – A shed built on 4×4 runners is an open invitation to pack rats
• Storage Containers – The new popular plastic storage containers and small sheds are pack rat favorites.
• Garages – Usually a rat enters a garage left open (even for a few minutes) and then chews its way out when the door is closed. Now it has an entry point and a great place to live.
• Furnace rooms – Most furnace rooms have air vents, A/C line chases & condensation drain lines – all potential entry points.
• Foundations – a concrete foundation, especially with stucco frame construction on top, can provide some unique hidden entry points not visible without a mirror.
• Electrical transformers – pack rats have been known to knock out power to a whole block by getting into electrical transformers. They usually dig under the transformer and enter from below.
• Cable boxes – bad reception? Pack rats may have gotten into the cable junction box.
• Water meters – a tiny little cave just right for a pack rat home.
1. Finding the entry point(s)
• Mr. Pack Rat only does pack rats. We see more unusual situations in a week than most pest control persons see in a career. We know how to find entry points.
2. Remove all rats
• Poison is the worst thing you can use. Not only does it take 5-10 days for a rat to die if it eats the poison, all the while doing more damage, it can also die inside an inaccessible area creating a terrible smell.
• The next worse thing that can be done is to seal an entry point with a rat still inside. Rats will find a way out or die trying. A rat can chew through a solid 2×4 if it has an edge to get started.
• Mr. Pack Rat never uses poison and has established techniques and procedures to be sure no rats remain before all entry points are sealed.
3. Seal all entry points
• Easier said than done. Rates like to go where rats have been. Once rats have infested an area, other rats will try to gain entry to the same area. All entry points must be sealed with firmly attached metal. Rats can chew through expanding foam like butter. Same with wood. Steel wool rusts out. Staples come loose. It must be done right.
• Mr. Pack Rat are exclusion specialists. We use thousands of square feet of screen of all sizes each year. We know the right material to use in the right areas, in most cases firmly attached with screws.
— How do you know if you have a pack rat in your home? —
• Noise. Pack rats chew and gnaw every night to keep their teeth sharp and at the proper length. In a wall or above your head the noise is usually loud and consistent night after night. The sound will usually start after dark and continue on and off every few hours during the night. When it is quiet, the rat is often out collecting food and debris.
The sound of pitter-patter, thuds or bumps are less reliable indicator of pack rats since these sounds may be from another animal on top of the roof and not in the attic.
• Haunted House? Door bell rings in the middle of night, phone quits working, lights flicker, alarm system randomly goes off? You might not have a ghost, but a pack rat that has been chewing on wires.
— Entry Points —
A typical home may have more than a dozen potential entry points for pack rats. Some are common and typical. Others take quite a bit of detective work and require years of experience and expertise to discover. Some examples of entry points:
• Bird screens – usually knocked out by a wood pecker and then used by pack rats.
• Exhaust vents – dyers and bath room & kitchen fans often vent to the roof or side of the house.
• Fresh air intake vents – gas furnaces and water heaters need fresh air source, usually a vent on the roof or side of the house.
• Attics vents – most attics have vents to let the hot air of the attic escape. Sometimes these are turbines, or dormer vents.
• Roof intersects – if a roof has different levels, where those levels come together or overlap they may be a tight space, a safe place for rats to chew into if there is any type of gap.
— Tile Roofs —
Homes with tile roofs are the most challenging since rats can easily get under and move freely under most tiles roofs. On a properly built home with a tile roof, the tile’s main purpose is to keep the sun off the sub-roof. The sub-roof is usually made of plywood covered with layers of tar paper and its purpose is to make the roof water proof.
Rats may simply nest under the tile, especially if the tile is shaded by a tree or has a northern exposure.
In the areas where the tile meets the vertical wall, there should be a metal flashing. Sometimes there is not and the rats can chew through the thin tar paper and enter the wall.
Vents passing through the tile should be sealed to the sub roof, but often they are not. Even if the vent is screened, rats can enter the attic from under the tile where the vent passes through the sub-roof.
The most difficult situation of all is a hidden hole under the tile from a construction defect or the rats simply chewed through the sub-roof. Fortunately these cases are rare.
— Examples of Bad Exclusion —
• Improperly screening a dryer vent – can create a fire hazard
• Using chicken wire to screen vents (rat can get through most chicken wire)