Reader Recommendation Request: Rats!

From LK:

I don’t know if the roof rats in my neighborhood read the P-I or what, but just a couple of days after the P-I’s “rats want to live in your house this winter” story, I was awakened by a critter gnawing its way through my eaves. And then running happily from one end of the attic to the other. Nice. I’ve called a couple of exterminators and not been called back, but last night I was awakened by a rat scampering around on my couch trying to get the last of the peanut butter out of my dog’s old Kong, so I’d like to get someone out here NOW. For now I’m heading to True Value for a half-dozen snap traps, but I need someone to do inspection and exclusion work. Sigh.

As always, please post a comment to add your suggestion; check out all WSB Reader Recommendation Requests, and responses, in their very own archive section here.

39 Replies to "Reader Recommendation Request: Rats!"

  • dd November 30, 2007 (9:16 am)

    They are here all right. I’ve had one in my basement for a week. He (she?) just walks past my True Value purchased, peanut butter filled snap trap everyday. Anyone know a better bait?

  • Arbor Heights November 30, 2007 (9:18 am)

    The best approach is to set your own traps. Exterminators usually use poison, which has a couple of problems. Besides killing something you don’t intend to kill, the rats usually crawl off somewhere inaccessible to die and stink for a long time. I had the best luck with an electric battery operated killer. Put it somewhere you can get to easily, load it with dry cat food or peanut butter, and check frequently.

  • Elizabeth November 30, 2007 (9:24 am)

    Willard’s Pest Control is great. They’ve solved this problem for me (by setting traps) in the past.

  • Patske November 30, 2007 (9:34 am)

    The exterminator at Boeing uses a piece of Reeses peanut butter cups

  • Venkat November 30, 2007 (9:37 am)

    I sort of agree with Arbor Heights. I’m sure there are good exterminators out there, but this is one of those problems that’s worth tackling on your own if you have the time.

    The two big things that help are (1) making sure everything is sealed (which has side benefits anyway) and (2) making sure no food products are left “out” (the kong probably poses a problem).

    Cheeze works for bait as well.

  • Peggy November 30, 2007 (9:39 am)

    I don’t know if my solution is what’s keeping them away, or if it’s practical for others: I have a small dog, a pug, and just got a cat. I figure that, together, they will keep all other four-legged creatures out of their space. I suppose it also helps that I don’t have an attic. From past experience in another place, an apartment in Paris, I would say it’s important to search for and destroy any “nests” before you have an even bigger problem.

  • J November 30, 2007 (9:57 am)

    Our exterminator uses the rat traps with a mix of peanut butter and nutella for bait.

  • thinking November 30, 2007 (10:05 am)

    We spent lots of money trying to get rid of our rat problem in our attic. After paying for an exterminator and then sealing off any opeinging high and low We still had rats. Then I convienced my husband to by a cat. Alas no rats. A cat is the only way to keep out the rats. Im sure of it

  • LG November 30, 2007 (10:17 am)

    Sean at A Wildlife Pro (interviewed in the article, and the one who said he had done work in WS–I guess that was us!) has done work for us. His website says that you can call him at any time. He’s really good at identifying the places where they’d be getting into your house. We have had a pretty nasty infestation in our attic (luckily they can’t get into the house itself). He has been thorough and has made at least 4 return trips to our house to make sure that they were all caught. In the mean time, head to true value and get some 1/4″ wire mesh and look for openings, like under your sinks where they might be coming in, and staple the mesh over them. It’s easy work to do yourself. We just weren’t too keen on trapping and removing them ourselves, so we were happy to pay Sean to take care of that. He’s not cheap, but we’ve been very pleased with his work, and he’s just a nice guy.

  • Katherine November 30, 2007 (10:19 am)

    Arbor Heights, where do you get the battery-operated killer? Does it kill things bigger than rats? Wouldn’t want to shock my cat, who no longer does much hunting.

  • Delivery Driver November 30, 2007 (10:34 am)

    I had the same problem with both of my West Seattle homes. I called Terminex (Terminex? Yes.) and they were out the SAME DAY. They also provide year-long contracts and come out again immediately if you hear any suspicious noises. As for stinky corpses -yep, they come out and remove those as well. It’s a soup-to-nuts operation. I never lifted a finger -except to write out the check, of course.

  • roddy November 30, 2007 (10:42 am)

    we had a huge rat/mouse problem and basically had to tear the basement down to the studs to get rid of the nests and dead rats (we had rented our house out for four years while we were in another part of the country). After we did that we called Myzzer Rodent Exclusion ( and they sealed off all ground level entry points, and set snap traps with peanut butter in the basement and crawl space. You sign a year’s contract with them, and they check and rebait the traps four times a year. Also, if you hear the trap snap and you don’t want to deal with the “leftovers,” call them and they will come out and take it away. Unfortunately, they don’t do roof exclusion work, so the critters moved to our attic, but we found another company to do that work, and have not seen or heard any sign of the critters since. Good company, and very knowledgeable.

  • Arbor Heights November 30, 2007 (11:18 am)

    I got my rat electrocutor at McLendon’s in White Center. We have four cats in our house, but they must be too well fed because we still get unwelcome visitors in the crawl space. Yes, a small cat could probably get into the zapper, so proper location is important.

  • WS November 30, 2007 (11:24 am)

    Another vote for Willards Pest Control. In addition to setting traps and following up, they can do a house inspection to find those teeny tiny holes the rats come in through. We had a few in our crawl space that were pretty much invisible to the (untrained) human eye.

  • Luckie November 30, 2007 (11:44 am)

    We are now working with John at Adept Pest Control for our attic rat problem. He set traps (no poison), and he did all the roof exclusion himself. He does three visits (exclusion and trap setting, then two follow-ups), or you can contract him for longer periods. In fact, he was here this morning to check on the traps, and we had bagged a roof rat in our crawl space. He’s polite, punctual, and reasonably priced. The company is locally owned and operated, and I found it through the Better Business Bureau.

  • Alton November 30, 2007 (12:44 pm)

    Check out

    Lots of helpful folks with rat problems.

  • JumboJim November 30, 2007 (1:16 pm)

    I don’t reccomend Terminix. We signed a year contract with them when we first moved in. Most of the bigger companies require a contract. I’d avoid that. if you’re unhappy with their service you’re kind of stuck. They also wouldn’t do exclusion work on the roof, for which we had to get a Millionaire club guy. (Our roof is REALLY steep).

    I don’t think bait stations outside are too dangerous although McLendon’s only sells cardboard ones which would be useless outside (rain soaks them and raccoons could chew through them). I still have the heavy plastic ones Terminix left.

    Its also important to clean up food outside, such as fallen fruit, bird seed, etc.

    Good luck!

  • by Delridge CC November 30, 2007 (2:03 pm)

    I don’t know if this did the trick by we saw rats in our backyard during the summer. Being that I have two dogs and refuse to deal with “leftovers” from traps I searched and found Shake Away. It’s an organic rodent repellent made from the urine of rat predetors. I shook it around the edge of the house and borders of the backyard. I haven’t seen any since. This has reminded me I should probably do it again. Google Shake Away to get more info.

  • LK November 30, 2007 (2:31 pm)

    Hi all–I’m the original recommendation requester, so thanks for all the great advice!

    I was actually driven out of an apartment in Ravenna in 1995 after trapping about a half-dozen rats (the landlord wouldn’t do any exclusion work, so they just kept coming), so I’ve got my own bait concoction (natural, greasy peanut butter with 1/2 a chocolate chip–so basically Reese’s), and method of setting traps (spread some extra peanut oil under the bait tray to make the whole setup stinkier and more enticing). I’ve also kept EVERYTHING in glass containers since the “Ratvenna” episode.

    After setting seven traps on Wednesday, and staying the night at a friend’s house, I came home to victory–dead rat! (Sad. They’re cute when they’re dead.) I still need a pro to do the exclusion work, though.

  • flowerpetal November 30, 2007 (3:30 pm)

    Rats are on the axis of evil! Indluge me to tell a short story of proof. We had a rat problem in our attic of our first house (not in WS). However, we never saw evidence of those foul creatures in the house. That is until one morning. It was this time of year and I began to decorate for Christmas. I have a beautiful nativity set with figures made in Italy. Wherever I have lived the nativity is set up on an ocassional table in a prominent spot in the living room, as it was that first Christmas in this house.
    I was horrified the next morning to find that the rats had journeyed into our living space; and not only that; they left their small “traces” all around the creche. It is a sight I will never forget… as much as I wish I could. Evil rats.

  • willow November 30, 2007 (3:44 pm)

    I used to live on a “green belt” (read lots of blackberries), and just like clockwork, when the berries were gone, and it got cold, rats were inside.

    The only solution was to find, and seal ALL entrances. All Decon did was to send them in the walls, attic, crawl spaces, and places not used.
    AND, yes, when they died, they stunk like hell for months, and drew one hell of a lot of flies.

    But, Decon did work – so does gasoline, if you don’t care about the after effects.

  • Chris November 30, 2007 (4:01 pm)

    If you do find any openings in your house where they might be getting in, fill them with steel wool and cover the hole 1/4″ wire mesh. There was an opening under my roof’s eave, and the rats climbed up the side of house and got into the house that way.

  • Teri November 30, 2007 (4:12 pm)


    Having two to four urban backyard feral cats can greatly assist with rats and mice. These cats have been neutered/spayed, health checked and are low supervision. All they need from you is some shelter, daily feeding/water and a watchful eye for any signs of injury through their years with you. Once you they are done eating each meal, you want to remove the food so other animals are enticed to show up for a meal.

    Feral cats are generally killed in shelter settings because they are not adoptable as a ‘pet’. You can help save their lives and reduce or eliminate rats ‘n’ mice. If you would like to know more about how to adopt backyard ferals, please feel free to email me at


  • Teri November 30, 2007 (4:14 pm)

    ooops…quick correction on this sentence: ‘Once you they are done eating each meal, you want to remove the food so other animals are enticed to show up for a meal’.

    It should read as follows,
    ‘Once are done eating each meal, you want to remove the food so other animals are NOT enticed to show up for a meal’.

  • Maria November 30, 2007 (5:29 pm)

    Feral cats also kill native wild birds. That is why there are fewer and fewer birds. That is why I always say a cat in the headlights is a good thing.

  • Cruiser November 30, 2007 (5:43 pm)

    It’s important to lay your traps correctly. They should be perpendicular to the wall as rats tend to run along the case of walls etc. When you buy new traps put some peanut butter on them but do not set them. WHAT???, Yes I said do not set them,yet!! Let the rats have a nibble for a night or two then put on your peanut butter and set them all. The rats will come for their feast and well you know the rest:)

    Happy hunting:)

  • nunya November 30, 2007 (6:09 pm)

    I had a rat come up the toilet and eat their way through a Jenn-air vent for our stove. To solve the problem I got some “sticky boards” and crammed every opening in the crawl space with chicken wire to solve the intrusion problem. Then I moved to a house with a basement, no more crawl space problems.

  • The House November 30, 2007 (7:17 pm)

    My favorite solution is a 6 pack of beer and a high powered BB gun with laser scope. It’s eco-friendly, gives your hours of entertainment and gets rid of those SOBs very effectively.

  • Drury November 30, 2007 (8:40 pm)

    I’ve always thought that the City of Seattle should have an anthem for this time of year, that goes something like this:

    Sung to the tune of “Keep Your Sunny Side Up”:

    “Keep your toilet lids down, down, keep your toilet lids down”…..

    I know “that” might only help prohibit one interior entrance opportunity, but it’s meaningful. It saved me from having a nervous breakdown on two occasions over the past six years. My cat pointed at the covered toilet, where the splashing noise was happening, and I started flushing.

    For those of you who doubt you’ll ever sit down comfortably again: don’t worry, it’s seasonal. Besides, “eliminating” standing up can be a thigh tightener.


  • dd November 30, 2007 (8:58 pm)

    I just caught my victim! I’m the first poster on this and my rat trap just went off.
    Score: Me 1, Rat 0!

  • Ron November 30, 2007 (11:20 pm)

    Don’t forget to cut back tree limbs that overhang your roof. They can provide a very convenient “bridge” to all kinds of critters.

  • JT December 1, 2007 (10:37 am)

    Maria, when you have no idea what you’re talking about you shouldn’t comment. The myth you’re spreading is a favorite of cat haters. Humans and their urban sprawl and excessive use of fertilizer and pesticides is the main reason for fewer song birds. And how lovely that you wish to run over and kill that which displeases you.

  • CO Transplant in WS December 1, 2007 (12:43 pm)

    The House makes a great point. I know from experience. But that was back in college.

    Mouse infestations I can understand, but does everyone really mean RATS?? Being new to the area, please excuse my ignorance.

  • willamina c. December 1, 2007 (3:11 pm)

    Terry has an excellent point and idea. Ferals love tasty rodents. Rodents don’t love feral cats.

    Trust me, cats won’t kill birds if there are mice and rats to be had. If you’re going to spread that kind of cat-hating though, at least learn to pin on cats what they actually do.

    And, uh, The House, i’d be careful talking about BB guns around WS right now, though i also admit that’s a good way to deal with rat problems!

    And yes, CO Transplant, they’re rats. Rattus Rattus or Rattus Norvegicus (big in Ballard…*rimshot*), not just mice. Fear not, you’re not ignorant, most people aren’t used to RATS actually meaning RATS and use the term “rat” (rattus rattus) and “mouse (mus musculus) interchangably.

  • Ann December 2, 2007 (12:02 am)

    Maria, get some real education, and a pyschologist.

  • Maria December 2, 2007 (8:53 am)

    Nope, All I need are a couple of metal traps.

  • Teri December 2, 2007 (10:57 am)

    May I encourage all of us to discuss issues and be respectful–even when our viewpoints are opposing? Our WSB puts a lot of time into providing us with a postive, community driven blog…let’s try to support them.

    The topic of feral cats is a hot one for many of us and the only way we can come to a middle ground is to discuss the concerns. There are feral cat and wildlife groups that have been able collaborate and focus on their shared value…love of animals.

    If you would like to have off blog discussion, please let me know.

    Cheers, Teri

  • Sean December 2, 2007 (11:36 am)

    Sean here from A Wildlife Pro. Not sure who LG is, but thanks for the kind words. I’ve solved many rat problems in WS so unfortunately just your initials do not narrow it down for me! Those of you who would like to tackle a rat problem on your own here are a few pointers. Find & seal entry points with 1/4″ wire mesh. They cannot get thru the mesh and it lasts a long time. After you install the mesh, foam, caulk or somehow seal the opening so the aroma that originally attracted the rat doesn’t continue to waft(sp?) out and attract other rats to want to be inside. Set traps in the areas where you have heard or seen them. PNB works just fine if you’ve sealed the rats in. Don’t worry about placing traps un-set. Rodents go to traps out of desperation when cut-off from outside food & water. Traps should be placed perpindicular to walls, as somebody mentioned. Even if the rats aren’t interested in the food, they will hit a trap just cuz it’s where they run. You can tell what the rat was doing when it was caught based on how the body is placed in the trap. Trim bushes and trees back from roofline, as they are the favorite path-of-travel. A soon-to-be customer turned me on to this site, so I’ll check back if anyone has questions. Hope you all don’t mind that I’m not a WS resident posting on here!

  • ibex March 13, 2008 (12:46 am)

    Seems the subject of rat catching has played out. However, I am trying to rid my friend’s house of a resident rat while they are on vacation. I have seen and in weird way touched this rat. It is huge! I opened a 4 by 2 access area to see if the rat was there and it was. I felt fur and then got sight of it with a flashlight. I only saw a furry mid section. I could have grabbed it, but I didn’t want to get bit. I went to find some kind of gloves but it was gone when I checked again. Okay, I know they are basically passive and I have killed them by hand in the past. Long time ago, and even though they are passive they are not easy to kill. Stupid hard to kill rats.

    Deal is that this rat will not touch a trap. I have placed peanut butter laced snap traps (hard to impossible to set, I must say) and glue traps. The rat has not touched any of them except to walk through one glue trap. The foot impression was at least one inch in length.

    My friend’s would like this problem to be gone without paying mucho bucks. (Man, I should have strangled that thing when I had a chance.)

    I love birds and cats and I don’t hate rats. Many live in my attic or maybe squirrels, I’m not sure. The rats haven’t come into my house since one of my cats who is now dead now, stopped bringing them in. That’s when she taught me how to kill them. She killed birds too, very effectively. She loved birds best of all. So, I don’t know how to feel about the song bird vrs. cat thing. Anyway, she’s dead now. The other cat is useless for anything except for petting. But at times, I miss my mean lean killing machine.

    I could have taken her to my friend’s house and that rat would not only be dead but partially eaten and half way regurgitated by now. Got to love a mouser.

    So my question. What am I doing wrong? I cannot seem to set a snap trap without almost taking off a finger. Not that it matters(well, the finger does)the rat isn’t biting anyway. And why do the glue traps seem impossibly stupid?

    Four days until my friends come back. I hope for better luck.

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