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Rat Control Blog - A Trapper's Journal

This weblog chronicles some of the adventures I have had while operating my wildlife removal company in Orlando, FL - Click any of the photos for a larger image and more information.

05.15.2008 - How to Prevent Rodent Damage in an Attic
Rodents that live in attics cause more problems than just annoying noise.  They also cause a number of different types of damage inside an attic, some of which are serious. Look at the above photo, and you will see several types of rodent damage in this customer's attic. Rat Droppings - Rats have high metabolisms, and they leave many droppings, often thousands, in an attic where they live.  These droppings may or may not smell bad, but they are unsightly and they do carry disease that people can contract if they come into contact with the droppings. Rat Urine ...click for more

03.15.2008 - Mouse in Attic - Trapping & Removal
Here is a rare photo of a mouse in an attic. If you want to solve a problem with a mouse in the attic, you have to follow the steps I've outlined many times on this site.  Step one, inspect the entire house, top to bottom, identify the areas of mouse use in the attic, and find any possible entry holes that lead into the house. Step two, seal the entire house shut, with steel repairs.  Step three set a dozen or more mouse traps on the prime locations in the attic.  Step four, remove trapped mice and reset traps until no more are caught.  Step five, clean and decontaminate the attic. ...click for more

01.05.2008 - Norway Rat Control & Trapping
Here is a photo of a Norway Rat (rattus norvegicus) trapped in a cage trap. I usually deal with Roof Rats in Florida. This photo was sent to me by my brother-in-law Sean, who operates his own wildlife removal business in Seattle, WA. He deals with more with Norway Rats up there. Thought I trained him on Roof Rats down here in Orlando, most of the same principles and techniques apply to both rat species. These rats are by far the dominant rat species in the world, and both occupy a certain ecological niche and thrive as nuisance rodent species worldwide. I will now exa ...click for more

11.02.2007 - Rat Poison Is a Bad Idea
I say it again and again on my websites and in many of the blog pages that I've written about rodent control, but I just want to outline once and for all the many reasons why the use of rat poison is a terrible approach to rat control. Poison is ineffective - Yes, poison does kill rats.  But it does not kill all of the rats.  Only 100% eradication is acceptable in rat control.  If you leave just a few, your problem is just as bad as it ever was, because rats reproduce so quickly.  The thing about poison is that not all the rats will eat it, and of those that eat it, not all will die. ...click for more

09.22.2007 - Giant Rat - Big Norway Rat in Seattle
This photo was sent to me by my brother-in-law Sean, who I trained, and who now operates his own wildlife removal business in Seattle, WA. It's of a giant Norway Rat, or "hog rat" as he called it. I've gotten some very large rats myself here in Orlando Florida, but none as big as this beast! Norway Rats are, on average, larger than the Roof Rats, or Black Rats, that I deal with. Most striking to me is the short, fat tail of this Norway Rat. Roof Rats have very long, black, sleek tails that are longer than the body length. This is probably because Roof Rats require more balan ...click for more

09.12.2007 - Dead Mouse in the House / Ceiling
Thanks to your website, I was given some good info that allowed me to locate a rotting dead mouse in my attic. I was thrilled not to have to pay someone a bunch of money to do it!I had to cut a hole in my hallway to gain access to the space above the room where I had previously whiffed out the location of the carcass, just as you described on your website. Making my way around the walls of the room we knew the smell was coming from, I finally started on the ceiling and before long, GAG!!, I found the source, and it was just like you said...leeching through the sheetro ...click for more

06.27.2007 - Eating Rats for Dinner
One of the perks of my job as a rodent removal specialist is that my work yields me free dinner. Some days I don't eat well, but tonight it's a feast! I caught eight plump and juicy rats today, so I'm in for a hearty meal. Many people ask me how I prepare the rats for eating. Most people seem to think that I skin them, butcher them, and sauté the succulent rat meat in a garlic butter fry. Some have suggested that I probably stuff the rats, put a grape in their mouth, and bake like a turkey. When I caught rats in the Chinatown section, it was implied that I'd stir-fry or ...click for more

03.04.2007 - Rodents Chew on Electrical Wires in the Attic
When I saw this wire, and several others with the same symptoms in this attic, I knew that I was dealing with some sort of rodent in the attic, and I suspected that I was dealing with rats. First of all, I saw the characteristic brown grease smudging on the wires, which rats leave. Next, I saw many rat droppings around the wires. I also saw footprints that were clearly those of the Rattus Rattus, or Roof Rat. Finally, I saw chewing on the wire with the exact bitemarks that match the front incisors of the Roof Rat. Finally, I set some rat traps right next to the offending wires, and ...click for more

01.19.2007 - Roof Rat Photo
I'm proud of this high-detail photograph that I took of a Roof Rat (rattus rattus). I caught this rat in a live cage trap, and decided that I'd do a photo shoot for the heck of it. I put the rat in the bottom of a tall white garbage can. Now, before you try the same thing at home, I have to warn you that rats are amazingly fast, can climb almost any surface, and can really, really, really jump high. There's barely a container that can ...contain them. Only a tall unit with slick vertical walls, at least four feet high, will do the trick. That's what I had in this case. Next, you want a rat that ...click for more

12.18.2006 - How to Trap a Rat in a Cage
Suppose you want to trap rats in a cage, as opposed to using snap traps. It can be done. I personally stick to snap traps most of the time, for a variety of reasons both practical and strategic. However, there are times when I do cage trap rats. The few times I've done so have been by customer request. The principles for cage trapping are the same as for snap trapping. To trap a rat in a cage, set the cage in the right place. Rats tend to use the same paths and runways over and over again. These areas are easy to spot, because the rats leave behind droppings, urin ...click for more

10.05.2006 - A Nest of Baby Rats
This is a litter of baby rats that I removed from the gutter of a home. The homeowner had actually observed the female rat entering and exiting the gutter, and suspected a nest therein. I arrived at the home, and found the gutter of the porch roof completely littered with years' worth of debris, much of which was so old it had nearly decomposed into soil.. I began to dig through and remove and bag the debris, when one of my scoops yielded a SQEAK- SQEAK- SQEAK noise, and I knew I had hit paydirt. By paydirt I mean rats in dirt, for which I got paid. I carefully ...click for more

09.21.2006 - Rat Catching - How to Catch a Rat
This job took place in the ceiling of a church. The man who hired me was not the minister, or the organist, or the acolyte, or the little old lady with the blue hair who never misses a Sunday. I'm not sure exactly what he was, but he's probably the creepiest customer I've ever had to deal with, and he told me to catch rats and squirrels from the attic. So I did. The attic of this church did have a major infestation of both rats and squirrels.  The people inside the church could hear them all the time.  The attic was filled with rodent droppings.  Because of the presence ...click for more

06.27.2006 - Mouse Nest In Attic
One of the reasons rodets such as rats and mice enter an attic is in order to have a place to create a nest and have babies. This is actually the primary reason certain animals, like raccoons and opossums use attics. Rodents tend to use attics regardless, but as with any animal, they create their nests in convenient and safe places, so if you have rats or mice in your attic, there's a good chance that some of the adult females have created nests. I've seen several different rat and mouse nests in attics so far. The nest usually consists of a cluster of shredded debr ...click for more

03.13.2006 - Fat Rat
I caught a fat rat today. A rotund rodent. A chubby chipmunk, a house of a mouse, a chair-splitter critter. I've never before caught a rat this fat. I checked the traps I set in the attic when I found this round mound. It all started on a Tuesday. On that day, I was called out to a house in south Orlando. The dame who lived there said that she was hearing noises up in her attic. I didn't hear nothing, and I thought she was cukoo, but I decided I'd take a look up there anyway. Geeze Louise, she wasn't kidding. The attic was a regular rat toilet. I saw rat turds up there that I never seen bef ...click for more

02.11.2006 - Rodents in the Attic
Here I am, on a typical rodent in the attic job. This suburban house had a fairly large rodent infestation in the attic. The rats were climbing the walls of the house and chewing their way into a wooden eave, which had a relatively flimsy screen for a vent. It was easy for the rats to detect the attic space, and to chew their way in. Rodents often seek out attics to live in for many reasons. The primary reason is for a warm, safe, dry, place in which to live. The rats can smell the air of the attic, they can detect the airflow with their whiskers, and they know that there's a cavity in ...click for more

01.10.2006 - Mouse Vs. Rat - How to Tell The Difference
Rats and mice are similar in appearance. In fact, people often confuse juvenile rats for mice, and the two do look extremely similar. While there are several species of rats and mice, I will examine the two most common ones, the Roof or Black Rat, and the House Mouse, both seen in the above photograph. As you can see, the biggest difference is size. Rats grow to a body of 8 inches and a tail of 9 inches, and a weight of almost a pound. Mice rarely grow more than 3 inch body 3 inch tail, and a couple of ounces. Next is color, and rats tend to be gray with white ...click for more

01.03.2006 - Emergency Rat Shooting
I suspect David in the kitchen with the air rifle. I have learned, through ample experience, that the best way to get an "emergency" rat in the house is with the pellet gun. Here's how it works: Every now and then I get a call at 2:00 AM from a panting, stammering homeowner, who informs me, between gasps for air, that there's a RAT in the house. The homeowner also informs me that I am to come and get it immediately. At this point I will either grumble and mumble something about the rat being harmless, roll over and fall back asleep, or I'll grumble and get ...click for more

12.09.2005 - Dead Rodent in a Wall
I got a call about a smell in a wall in a hall at the mall. A rat did crawl, and then it did fall, and it curled in a ball, and it did not stall, if I recall, to offend all. With its smell, which smelled bad. I sniffed it out, then cut it out, then took it out, then looked about, and the people at the mall wondered what mistakes I had made in my life to be the guy who cuts dead rats out of the wall in the hall of the mall. But darn it all, I like my work, and if you don't like it, you're a jerk. I'm writing this way because I'm tired and my brain is nearly expired. When I can't write things of substance, I ten...click for more

12.02.2005 - How To Find a Rat
It is my job to find rats. I am a rat control expert, specializing in the extermination and eradication of rats. I have to find both living and dead rats, and in the case of living rats, make them dead. In this case, a circuit breaker box did the job for me. This job took place at a dental office. The dentist was finding rat droppings throughout the office, on the chairs, in the cabinets, and even on the dental picks and drill bits. These tools ended up in patient's mouths. Mmm!!! I was hired to solve the rat problem. The first key to finding rats is to find out how they are ...click for more

11.16.2005 - Mouse in House - Get it Out
It's called a housemouse for a reason.  Not because these mice are miniature construction workers who build quality residences.  Not because they stay at home while their spouse goes to the office.  They are called housemice because they like to live in houses - PEOPLE HOUSES!  Yes, that's right, mice are classified as commensal rodents, who thrive off of the activity of people.  If you like to live in a house, so does a mouse.  Do you like the fact that your house is warm and dry?  So does the housemouse.  Do you like the fact that your house is safe ...click for more

11.15.2005 - Do Rats Chew on Electrical Wires in the Attic?
Many people ask me if rats chew on electrical wires in the attic. The answer is yes. Yes they do. I see it in almost every attic I enter for rat control jobs. Rats are rodents, and all rodent gnaw. Their teeth continually grow, so like a cat has to continually scratch its claws, or just as you clip your fingernails, a rat gnaws in order to keep its teeth in check. They gnaw on a variety of surfaces, but they really seem to like electrical wires. This is a problem. They often expose current and thus heat to the wood beams in the attic, and this is a legitimate fire hazard. It's estim ...click for more

11.05.2005 - Dead Rat Removal Due to Poison
What have we here? A regular old smelly dead rat in the attic. Typical case, the homeowner called me with a terrible odor in the house, and asked me to come out right away and find the source of this ungodly stench that no well educated middle/upper class American citizen should have to endure. "Why has this horrible fate befallen me?" the lady of the house moaned and groaned. "My delicate nose shant tolerate such an injustice of nature. It is my right to live in a fresh scented abode." Apparently it was also her right to spread rat poison in the ...click for more

10.05.2005 - Bait Box To Trap Rat
While most rats tend to stay in the attic or wall voids, rats do often get inside the living space. Trapping rats in livable areas is a different matter than doing it in the attic. In the attic, I can set traps all over the place, with no concern of a person or pet encountering them, nor worry about the sight of a trapped rat. But inside the home, there's human hands, feet, dogs, cats, and little children. I can't just leave a finger-breaking rat snap trap laying about in such a place! Plus, many people don't ever want to actually see a rat. Thus, I have a solution for when there's rats ...click for more

07.28.2005 - How to Kill Rats in the Attic
If you have rats in the attic, you want to solve the problem! Rats chew on wires, make a lot of noise running around and scratching, and can spread disease. Once they've infested a home, the problem doesn't go away until properly solved. You do want to kill the rats in the attic to solve the problem, but that's only a part of an overall solution. There are many ways to solve a rat problem, but over the years and with many different experiments, I've determined the best way to solve the problem permanently. You don't want to simply kill the rats. That will not solve ...click for more

06.12.2005 - Dead Rat on Glueboard - Do Glue Boards Catch Rodents?
I arrived at a school in order to investigate a bad smell in one of the classrooms. The school had abandoned use of the room for a couple of days due to the odor, and finally decided to call me out to find and remove the source of the smell. Most dead animal jobs take me either five minutes or two hours. That is, the animal is either dead in some obvious and easy to access location, or it has died in some impossible to find and impossible to reach area. This was a five-minute job. I opened the drop ceiling panels, and voila, I found a dead rat stuck to a glue bo...click for more

04.30.2005 - Infant Rats - Roof Rat Babies
I got these infant rats today. I'm working on a rat control job in Longwood, and I've got the whole home sealed. I've trapped two rats, but the customer said that she still heard noises coming from the bottom of one of the walls. I went to her home to inspect, and sure enough, I heard the very faint scratching coming from the bottom of the wall as well. I went up into the attic, but there was no way I could see down that wall void from the attic space. So I got my trusty drywall saw and cut a hole in the wall just above the scratching noise. There, at the bottom of the wall void ...click for more

03.27.2005 - Rat Extermination
Many of my customer seek out rat extermination.  I think it's very important that people understand that there are many different methods of rat control, and that extermination can be done correctly, or very poorly.  Most companies that are classified as exterminators deal with insects, and they exclusively use poison.  These companies deal with rats in the same way, with poison.  The use of poison is a terrible approach to rat control.  It's by far most inhumane, least effective, and most likely to cause negative externalities of any approach.  First, as to ...click for more

02.11.2005 - Rat in the Toilet - Removal
Do rats come into your house through the toilet? Yes, I've seen it happen. However, it's very rare. To do so, the rat has to go through the plumbing pipes and through a waterlogged area, and that's just plain unlikely. Rats don't go somewhere unsafe unless they know there's a way out on the other end. So the truth is that the cases I've seen in which rats enter a home via a toilet are via toilets with the water shut off! Also, the rats here in Florida are Roof Rats, and they tend to stick to the high trees and power lines and rooftops, and not down in the sewers. Up north ...click for more

12.22.2004 - Rodent Extermination
Rodent extermination, From my rat association, I set a trapping station, Of my own creation, When to my elation, I found that my location, Built a large foundation, Of dead rat decoration, It was a revelation, When my trapping preparation, Made the operation, A thing of admiration, It was my expectation, Based on a conversation, That I lacked the education, To cause rodent anniahlation, And I hit the realization, That the situation, Could be solved by motivation, And trap administration, Rats are my occupation, I run a rodent corporation, I cause pulverization, Of ...click for more

11.09.2004 - Roof Rat - Control, Removal, Trapping
The common name of the species called rattus rattus is the Roof Rat. Sure, some people call it the Black Rat or the Citrus Rat, but Roof Rat is the most commonly used name. There's a reason for this name. This rat likes to run across your roof. They may do so in the course of their nightly scavenging, but in reality, if you've got rats living in your roof, they're there for a reason, and it aint to eat the shingles. They're probably on the roof because they've found some holes there that lead into the attic, and rats love to live inside warm, safe, dry attics. In the case ...click for more

10.12.2004 - Rodent Trapping Techniques
I will now outline and discuss various rodent trapping techniques. When I say rodent, I'm talking about rats (many animals, from squirrels to beavers are members of the rodent family). I only really deal with rats inside homes. There's no way to stop them from living outside. Within homes, the vast majority of the trapping takes place in the attic, because that's where the rats are, most of the time. Customers call me to complain about the scurrying and running and scratching noises of rats in the attic. The customers don't, of course, hear the chewing on electrical wires, ...click for more

09.15.2004 - Albino Rat Caught on a Snap Trap
Wow, an albino rat!  This was my first and likely only albino rat of my career.  I've caught over 1000 rats in my time so far, both with lethal and live traps, and I've never seen an albino rat before.  Sure, white rats aren't terribly rare, especially the white Norway Rats that people keep as pets, but this rat was a true naturally-occurring albino rat. Albinism is a hereditary condition, caused by a lack of melanin pigments.  It's usually passed on from recessive genes from both parents.  Albino genes are often weeded out amongst wild animals, particularly if the animals rely ...click for more

07.28.2004 - How to Get Rid of Mice in the Attic
Most people object to mice in the attic because they hear the noises of the mice every night, running around in the attic, and scratching. Mice also chew on wires or pipes, and they defecate and urinate a lot, and can spread disease. With time, they can destroy an attic and make it unsanitary, and they eventually come down the walls and find a way into the house, where they'll break into the pantry and chew on and contaminate food. The sooner the problem is solved, the better. I'm going to examine the steps necessary to getting rid of mice in the attic: Home Inspect ...click for more

05.21.2004 - Rodent Removal
I got this haul of rats at an apartment complex that I work for here in Orlando.  The key to rodent removal is to seal off the openings that rodents use to gain access to a building, and then to set the proper types of traps in the most effective manner. The reason the entry/exit holes must be sealed is because if you don't seal them, the rats will continue to come and go as they please.  Even if you do catch some rats, new ones will keep using those holes, which are now marked with rat pheromone scent.  Once you seal the holes, however, the rats that are stuck inside now ...click for more

03.29.2004 - Rat in the Ceiling
This is one of the most common jobs that I do - removal of rats from the ceiling of a home. The phone call always starts out the same: "I hear noises in my attic!". I then ask the customer to describe the noises. Several different animals live in attics, but if the description is of a quick scurrying, the pitter-patter of little feet, and particularly up the walls in addition to the ceiling, then I know it's rats. The primary problem that people have with rats in the ceiling is the noise. However, people don't know about the other dangers of having rats in the ceiling. Rats are rodents, and ...click for more

02.18.2004 - Dead Mouse in Attic - Rotting Mice
The problem with dead mice in the attic is that they are hard to find. This is because they love to burrow, and they dig their way down into the insulation. So when they die, they're already buried down in some tunnel. This is often right against the drywall ceiling, so the smell seeps down into the house and creates a strong odor within. However, when I go into the attic to search for the dead mouse, I barely smell anything, because the odor is blocked by the insulation, and the strong air flow in the attic, due to the ventilation, prevents much of the smell from building up...click for more

12.05.2003 - Rat Poop Droppings & Waste in Attic
Here are two different photos of rat poop in an attic.  On the left is a heavily-used rat pathway in an attic with blown-in fill insulation. On the right is a section of scattered droppings in pink insulation.  Both attics had a heavy rat infestation, and thousands of droppings scattered throughout.  Rats have very high metabolisms, and they poop a lot perhaps about 20 rat turds per day.  Thus, they leave a lot of rat waste in the attics where they live.  They also urinate, and the pheromone scent in the urine and perhaps even the poo attracts new rats to the area.  There is one ...click for more

10.29.2003 - Mouse Caught in a Cage
I caught this mouse in a cage today. The customer had a problem with scratching noises in the attic, running and scampering noises at night, in the walls and ceiling. I was called out to investigate. When my inpsection of the attic yielded a mouse infestation, the customer seemed crestfallen. "I don't want to kill the mice!" she said, "can't you just use some sort of mouse repellent?" I told her the truth, that there's no such thing as an effective mouse repellant. Many are sold online, and most of them consist of some sort of flakes or powder, most likely composed of ...click for more

09.13.2003 - Dead Rat in House - Died Chewing on Electrical Wires
I've encountered this scenario multiple times. There's a dead animal smell somewhere inside the house. I begin my search, sniffing the area. It's evident that the smell is the strongest in the kitchen. The homeowner knows this, and I can tell as well. However, what the homeowner doesn't suspect is that the dead animal is in fact in the oven. Not broiling in a pan for a Sunday dinner, but rotting in the rear panel with the electrical wiring. The first time I was called for such a job, I was confused as well. I searched the attic, I sniffed all of the cabinets and cupboards, the walls...click for more

05.01.2003 - Rat or Mouse in Ceiling - Trapping & Removal
This job took place in an office.  Rats had been jumping on desks at night, knocking things over, chewing on documents, pooping in fax machines, and things of that nature.  I was called out to address the problem. The job started with a full inspection of the office building.  Sure enough, it has several openings that rats could use to gain access inside.  The roof vents did not have proper screens, and there were several gaps where pipes came out of the concrete wall but were not properly sealed around the edges.  I saw the brown staining from the grease that ...click for more

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