Cleaning up after rats

Building off my other thread:

Effective rat deterrents? - Factual Questions - Straight Dope Message Board

I do in fact have rats in the attic to a greater extent than usual. The professionals are in agreement that I need to seal up the attic as best as possible. One wants to poison them and then seal the attic, the other wants to seal and then set traps. I’ll go with the latter.

I’m going to try to clean up the poop and “nest” material myself. Here’s where I need some info.

  1. The rat guy said he was going to vacuum up the mess with a HEPA-filter equipped vacuum. Is that really necessary? Or effective?

  2. The crawlspace is TINY, like 18 inches of clearance in some spots. It would be a hell of a lot easier to just run a hose up there rather than hump a whole vacuum. Could I run like 60-80 feet of hose from a shopvac at ground level? Would there be enough suction? I have a sense that it won’t work as well with a long hose, but have forgotten almost all physics.

Depending on your location, rats may carry Hantavirus.
You do not want to risk getting that. The recommended way to clean up rat feces is to wet them with a bleach solution, and use a paper towel.
If you use a vacuum, wear a good respirator, even if you have a vac with a HEPA filter.

Oh - even if you use the wet method, wear a decent respirator.
Hantavirus is deadly…

When doing some asbestos work, we rented a HEPA vacuum from our local tool rental business. It was $40 for 4 hours or something. It was amazing and made us almost sell our shopvac and get a professional vacuum. It had a longer than normal hose ~20 feet so that it didn’t travel across the work surface. It was super slick and would highly recommend it to clean up your mess.
Just toss the bags and be done with it!

2nd the respirator anyway to be in any crawl space. My dad ended up in the hospital for 2 weeks with pneumonia from insulation inhalation. The $40 is worth it! Spend the money and do both right!

I had just been hearing some noises in the crawl space under our house. 1.5 years after a remodel. I went under to investigate and found 5 rat bodies (entered and couldn’t find their way out is my guess) and traced them back to an old sewer pipe that the plumbers hadn’t sealed! Well they had but plastic grocery bags are non-permanent solution. I bought a $1.37 adjustable rubber stopper, installed it and haven’t heard a peep since. Spend the money for the piece of mind!

There are some things you want to leave to the professionals. I think this falls squarely in that category.

If you must DIY, follow beowulff’s sound advice. The guys is usually better with [computer] mice, but he obviously knows a thing or two about rats as well!

See this thread about cleaning up after a mouse infestation - some good advice in it.

A HEPA vacuum is probably worth it, but a long hose on a Shop Vac might still work. You should have sufficient suction over that distance for something light like this mess.

And use an enzymatic cleaner before you seal everything up.

I live in Arizona - Land of the Flea, and the Home of the Plague.
(and hotbed for Hantavirus, with 75 cases to date. Average mortality rate is 36%).

You might be at risk for Hantavirus, use a decent respirator.

Thanks for the advice all. Think I’ll add a HEPA filter to my shopvac as well as following the other recommendations.