How To Get Rid Of Rats In Walls And Ceiling

As the weather changes and cools, we all transition from outdoor activities to activities that are inside our warm and cozy homes. However, we aren’t the only creatures that seek shelter during the cold winter months. With more time spent indoors in your heated and dry home, you may notice or suspect these unwanted visitors. You may be wondering how to know if rodents are sharing your home. If so, how do you get rid of rats in the walls and ceilings?

If you have identified the presence of rodents in your home, you can tackle the infestation through traps, natural remedies, and ultimately prevention. Rats are drawn to food and shelter, so keeping your yard and home free of food, waste, and hiding spaces will curb the rodent population.

In this article, we will detail how to identify if you have rats in the walls or ceiling of your home. We will discuss how to identify the rodents, treat the infestation, and prevent further encounters with the pests.

How To Get Rid Of Rats In Walls

How Do You Know If You Have Rats in Your Walls or Ceiling?

First things first, you will have to figure out if you are dealing with a rodent problem in your home. Here are the signs to identifying if you may be sharing your home with unwelcome pests:

  • Squeaking, scampering, or scratching noises from within the walls or ceiling of your home.
  • Unusual behavior from household pets could indicate that they may be aware of unwanted pests that you aren’t seeing. Pets have a heightened sense of hearing and smell and will often pick up on unwelcome rodent visitors before you do.
  • Droppings look similar to coffee beans, raisin, or rice. They are shiny, black in color, and oblong or pill-shaped. The droppings are ½ inch or less in length. Evidence of rodent feces or urine is often found near food, in cabinets or pantries, or under the kitchen sink.
  • Tiny teeth marks or perforations found on wood, furniture, drywall, electrical wiring, packaged foods, etc. Rats have teeth that continuously grow and need to be blunted. This incessant gnawing can quickly become a serious source of destruction in your home if the rodents are left untreated.
  • Presence of shredded materials, like leaves, twigs, cloth, paper, dried plant matter, or anything that the rats could collect for use in building their nests.
  • Stale or musky odor present in the ceiling, attic, or other stagnant and hidden spaces in the home.
  • Smears of dirt or paw marks present on any area that the rats could utilize to travel through your home. Check around baseboards, low portions of walls, beams that run the length of the ceiling, etc.
  • Spotting a rat, whether it is dead or alive, is a sure indicator that there are others in the vicinity due to their exponential reproductive habits.

If any of these signs are present in your home, you should act quickly to rectify the issue. Due to the alarming rate of reproduction that rats are capable of once they have begun nesting, one or two rats can quickly turn into an extensive rodent infestation and, with it, a myriad of damage and destruction to your home.

Types of Rats and Identification

Rats are medium-sized, toothy rodents with long tails, large ears and eyes, and a pointed nose. They can range in size from about 5 inches in length upwards to the size of a large housecat. Depending on the type of rat you are dealing with may change how you choose to tackle the problem.

Roof rat

Types of Rats

Roof rats, also known as ship rats or black rats, receive their name for their inclination to seek shelter in the highest reaches of buildings. They are black or brown with a pale underbelly and smooth hair. This kind of rat hunts for food and shelter above ground.

Norway Rat

Norway Rat

Norway rats are larger than roof rats and have shorter tails. Their coat is brownish-gray in color. These rats are diggers and like to stay close to the ground. You may find evidence of burrows along the foundation of your home, near gardens, or under trash piles and yard clutter.

If you’d like more information on figuring out what kind of rats you may be dealing with, check out this helpful identification infographic.

Rats of North America

Do Rats Carry Diseases?

Rodents are known carriers of over 35 diseases. These harmful diseases can transfer to humans via contact with the rat itself, whether alive or dead, or contact with rodent urine, feces, or saliva.

Diseases can also be passed if a human or household pet is bitten by a rat or flea or tick fed on a rodent. Rats often introduce fleas and ticks to the homes they are infiltrating.

Can Rats Cause Damage to the Home?

Despite their small stature and unassuming appearance, rats can cause significant damage to your home.

  • They can cause structural damage to wood, drywall, insulation, other building materials, and even your yard.
  • Rats can chew through electrical wires and increase fire or electrocution risk.
  • Rodents have the potential to ruin furniture with gnawing and burrowing habits.
  • Rats may shred books, papers, clothing, and other materials for use in building their nests.

What Attracts Rats?

Access to Food

Access to food is the biggest attractor for rodents. They will feed on any kind of food they can get their grubby little hands on. Unprotected leftovers, crumbs, and open containers of food will all attract unwelcome pests.

Safety and Comfort

Rats are warm-blooded creatures that will seek an equally warm and comfortable place to nest. Access to warmth, protection, and shelter is more than enough for the rodents to want to share your home.

Poor Sanitation

Access to garbage, compost, or pet waste is a huge attractor for rodents. Dead trees, branches, and other vegetation provide shelter spaces to nest for the rats.

How To Get Rid Of Rats In Walls, Ceiling and Attic

1. Clear Yard and Trim Branches

The goal is to limit the spaces where rats can build a nest. By trimming tree branches that reach toward your roof, you will be eliminating an entry point for the shelter-seeking rodents.

2. Seal Entry Points

Rats can squeeze through the smallest gaps in your home; through vents, doors, window frames, etc. You will need to seal any suspect entry point to deter the rodents from breaching your home and nesting. Gaps and holes can be sealed with caulk, wood, wire mesh, or any other appropriate materials.

3. Store Waste in Bins

The smell and potential food within the waste will attract rats. Store garbage and compost in bins with tight-fitting lids to limit odors.

4. Tidy the Outside of Your Home, Garage, and Shed

Limiting the spaces where rats can build a nest is imperative to control the population. Clearing your yard and other areas of garbage, dead trees, branches, other vegetation, and pet waste will aid in ridding your home of rats.

5. Do Not Leave Pet Food Outside

Open access to food is one of the biggest attractors of rats. Try not to leave your pet’s food out longer than necessary. Keep excess pet food in a tight-lidded container at all times.

6. Home Remedies without Poison or Rodenticides

If you are wary of utilizing chemicals or traps in your home, here are some natural rat repellents that you can try:

Dry Ice

Placing dry ice near a rat’s nest, hole, or place with high rat activity will chase the rats out and away or suffocate them. The carbon dioxide emanating from the melting ice will cause asphyxiation in the rodents. This is an especially useful method when dealing with burrowing Norway rats.


Mothballs are poisonous to rats when consumed. Place them in and around your attic, basement, gaps in walls, or any other suspected rat-infested area.

Peppermint Oil

Dip cotton balls in peppermint oil and leave them in high rat-traffic areas.


The strong odor works wonders as a rat repellent. Mix ¼ cup of water, 2 cups of regular ammonia, and 2 tablespoons of detergent in a bowl. Then place the bowl in the infested area.


The capsaicin within pepper makes it difficult for the rats to breathe, and the sharp, unpleasant smell repels them. Utilize cayenne pepper, black pepper, or even pepper spray (with extreme caution) around areas where rats are suspected of hiding.

Sliced Onion and Garlic

The odor of alliums deters rat activity. Place sleeves of onion or garlic around rat-infested areas, being sure to replace them before they rot.

Instant Potatoes

When consumed, instant potatoes will cause inflammation inside the rodents’ intestines and kill them. Sprinkle this powder around areas you’ve seen or suspect rats.

7. Rat Baits and Poison

Rodenticides, rodent baits, or rat poison are economical options when trying to rid your ceiling or walls of rats. They come in bait blocks or pellets. Whichever method is chosen, the rodenticide is placed in strategic high-traffic areas of rodent activity.

Dealing with chemicals like rat baits should be done with the utmost care and safety precautions. Check out this helpful video on exactly how to use either pellets or blocks for rodent control.

Be sure to double-check your state and local laws on rodenticide before proceeding with purchase or application.

8. Rat Traps

Rat traps can be effective against rodents in your home if you’re dealing with a very small number of rats. Rats reproduce at a prolific rate, so often, multiple removal and prevention methods are required, ultimately leading to professional intervention. However, setting up traps during the interim while you wait for pest management specialists isn’t a bad idea.

There are different kinds of traps, so take the time to learn about your options and decide which you are most comfortable with using in your home.

Snap Traps

Snap traps are cheap and effective but have the potential to be dangerous to young children. They are set with bait, and then when the rat takes the bait, a spring mechanism is activated, snapping a thick metal wire down on the unsuspecting rodent. This will break the neck of the rat and kill it instantly. However, caution is necessary when setting these traps because they are powerful enough to break fingers.

A somewhat safer alternative to the standard wire rat trap is a snap trap made from plastic. Plastic jaws will clamp onto the rat and suffocate it. The closing mechanism isn’t forceful enough to injure digits and would be a safer option for homes with young children. These plastic traps are reusable, but they do cost more than the standard metal snap trap.

Glue Traps

Glue traps are another solution for catching rats but can be considered inhumane. These controversial traps consist of a piece of plastic board covered in extremely sticky glue. When a rat investigates the trap and ultimately walks onto it, it will become stuck to the adhesive. The more the rat moves, the more stuck it becomes.

Since the rodent is not instantly killed upon contact with the trap, this solution is often deemed inhumane. These traps cannot be reused, and the glue often collects dust, dirt, insects, and other junk that will eventually render them ineffective. They are best utilized indoors due to their propensity to collect debris.

Electronic Trap

The electronic trap is a metal-plated, tunnel-shaped trap with bait placed along the back wall. Once the rat is lured inside, a high-voltage shock is delivered to the device, and the rodent is killed instantly. This trap usually uses four C batteries, which carry the same amount of power that you would find in many children’s toys. This level of shock isn’t strong enough to harm children or household pets like cats or dogs.

Live-Animal Trap

Conversely, live-animal traps are deemed the most humane way of dealing with rodents because they are nonlethal. The trap is a small cage triggered by a pressure-sensitive plate that the rat must pass to reach the bait within the cage. Once you’ve captured the rat in the trap, you can relocate the animal to an area far enough away from your property that the rodent won’t return. Live-animal traps are larger than other traps and more expensive.

Safety and Usage Tips

You must utilize protective gear like goggles, gloves, and a mask when dealing with rodents. Whether you are clearing a potential rat’s nest, cleaning up droppings, or managing traps, you will want to take care to protect yourself from disease.

Always use gloves when handling rat traps, both new and used. The gloves will protect the trap from holding onto your scent, remnants of which would deter the rodents from investigating. Gloves will also aid in the removal of used traps containing rats and protect you from any diseases the rodents could be carrying.

Rat traps must be deployed in places that are tucked away from heavy use in your home. You do not want household pets or children stumbling upon them. They should be placed in high-traffic areas of travel for rats, think along rafters, beams, or trim.

Traps must be checked regularly. The bait in traps should be replaced every week to maintain its appeal to the rats. Peak butter, unsalted seeds, turkey, or hot dog slices are good options to bait the traps.

Pest companies recommend three traps for every rodent you have. Since it is almost impossible to know how vast the rat population is once they have begun nesting, it is better to ere on the side of more traps than less.

If you have tried a combination of these tips and are still experiencing a rodent issue, consider bringing in the professionals. Rat control specialists ensure peace of mind with their services and offer a completely comprehensive approach to removing and preventing pests.

Contact Reputable Pest Management

We encourage you to try these do-it-yourself methods of rodent control, but if you find that your efforts yield minimal results, it is time to contact the professionals.

Rodent control specialists are trained to find and remove all the pests, whereas if you are only catching a few rats here and there, you are only slowing the prolific population growth of the rodents. They offer a comprehensive, holistic approach to diagnosing the entirety of your property and moving into removal and prevention from there.


Do you have rats in your walls or ceiling? Identifying your rodents and coming up with a plan for removal and prevention are your first steps. Then, general upkeep and sanitation of your home and yard are imperative to deter rodents.

Limiting access to food, water, and shelter is a must to control a prolific rat population. There are plenty of methods to repel unwelcome rodents, but often, you will need to call in professionals to prevent the infestation from growing exponentially.

If this article helped you get rid of rodents in your walls or ceiling, share it with your friends and family! Also, let us know the most helpful tactics that you learned in the comments below. We would love to hear from you. Please feel free to share any other tips and tricks for repelling rodents as well!

Written By: Yevgen

YevgenI'm a DIY nut, and the founder and chief editor here at Weekend Builds.
This site is a result of my DIY passion, and to share the joys I have experienced fixing, building, and creating things over the years.

Leave a Comment