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Do Rats Chew on Electrical Wires in the Attic?

rat chewing wire

11.15.2005 - 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 estimated that up to half of fires of unknown origin are electrical fires due to rodent chewing! Having seen as many chewed wires in my life as I have, I believe this. I've also seen several cases in which rats have caused an electrical short from chewing on the wires. In some homes, the homeowner has told me that the electricity to one side of the house mysteriously stopped, and an electrician found the chewed wire. I've also been to homes in which alarm systems have been set off by chewing on the alarm wires. Protect your investment! If you have rats in the attic - or any rodent, such as squirrels or mice, have the problem taken care of!

I took the above photo in an attic at a nice house I'm working on. The outside of the house is nice, but the attic is dirty! Filled with rat droppings and a few chewed wires. How did I get this rare photo of a rat chewing on a wire? Rats are incredibly skittish. Was I silent and invisible? Did I have a motion-sensitive camera mounted? Did I position a freshly-dead rat from another part of the attic on this already-been-chewed wire? Any of these options is possible.

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Wires chewed in attic or loft - If you’ve ventured up into your attic because a light isn’t working, the TV is out, or there’s a scary popping noise when you flip the switch, you may be unfortunate enough to discover that the wires in your loft have been chewed. Chewed wires do not usually mean mice. The only thing that chewed wires mean is that a larger rodent has been visiting your home, often a roof rat. All rodents need to chew, and to properly trap and remove the animal you will need to figure out just what type of rodent problem you have. Squirrels, rats, and mice are all potential suspects in this scenario. Investigating the rest of your home will reveal important clues about which critter is causing trouble. Look for grease marks. Most animals will leave a stain after repeated use, but none will leave markings quicker than a rat. Rats will also leave piles of droppings and urine puddles along their travelled routes. Mice have similar behaviors, but the droppings from a mouse will be no larger than a piece of rice. Grease markings from mice are uncommon. Squirrels will leave marks from body oils but only after prolonged usage. Squirrel droppings can be similar to those of a rat, but squirrels are much less reclusive. If you have squirrels you will likely hear them bounding overhead or squabbling about food during the day. Squirrels also prefer direct routes in and out of a home and are unlikely to wander through acres of walls to get inside. Rats are nocturnal. Either way, the animals must be trapped and removed, the entry holes sealed shut, and the wires repaired by an electrician.

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