Get Rid of a Rat Without Killing

Rats are cute. We didn’t want to kill it.

There was a scuttling noise in our attic several weeks ago.  Actually, I never heard it, personally, but both Merrianne (my wife) and our daughter said they heard it.  Also, Merrianne went up into the attic once when she heard the noise, and said she saw it disappear into a corner.  After that, I went up into the attic about a half dozen times, every time they heard the alleged “noise,” but never saw the rat, myself.  However, there were signs of rat activity, like droppings, gnawed items, and insulation moved aside into a running path.  Since we have tree rats (aka squirrels) as pets, we did not want to kill ordinary rats if we could avoid it.  They were welcome to live in our neighborhood, just not in our house.

I noticed that the rat had taken a liking to the seeds in some gourds that we were drying in the attic, so I removed all of those.  That was step #1, remove the food source.

From listening to the scampering, we determined the rat’s schedule for going out to forage for food. I waited for the rat to be out, then sealed the hole. I had to be careful of the timing, because if I sealed the rat in, it would either gnaw at everything until it created another hole, or die in our attic, leaving a mess to clean up later.  [Other sites on the internet advise sealing the hole right away, but that strategy includes setting killer traps inside for any rats that are sealed in.]

I went to the corner of the attic where the alleged rat disappeared. There were rat droppings (I moved away insulation for this picture). Also, as in most attics, the original carpenters and roofers left some nails behind. More on this below.
Looking up at that corner, I don’t see any holes. Wait a minute, let’s try another angle.
I’m holding the camera higher up, now. Yes, there’s a possible entry.
Now I moved the camera to the far right, behind the 2×6. THAT’S IT, a big hole.
Here are the things I need: some 1/4″ mesh hardware cloth, a tin snips to cut it, and that wonderful invention, Big Gap Filler expanding foam. I’m going to throw some of those extra nails into the holes, too.
Cut a screen piece to the size of the hole.
Here’s the screen pushed into the hole. I put some surplus nails in there, too. The same procedure will be used on the other hole.
Foiled!

By the way, here is why I put a screen into the hole, instead of just expanding foam. This is a hole that I plugged a couple years ago. Something tried to chew through, but was stopped at the metal screen.

Here is the hole, with expanding foam squirted into it. I like to insert the nozzle deep into the hole, and put a lot of foam in. The can says to only fill the hole 50%, because the foam expands a lot. I fill it all the way, because if the excess bulges out, it’s not where anyone can see, anyway. The foam hardens in a few minutes, so it’s important to spray it in quickly and thoroughly.
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