One Dead Rat. Should I expect more?

I set rat traps in my attic last week and caught The Biggest Rat ever yesterday.

Was he a lone wanderer? Or is there a massive Rat Family that has learned to avoid the traps?

Which is more likely?

I’ve got to go with option 2. I’ve never caught just one critter at a time. Although all of my incursions have been mice rather than rats.

There are more of them. Rats are smart as in smarter than many breeds of dogs and they can learn quite easily. I have done neuroscience research on hundreds if not thousands of them and they are the animal of choice for psychology experiments for a good reason. They can hide almost anywhere too. I was once so sleep deprived in grad school that when I came in to give drug injections to the rats in the middle of the night, I moved their giant housing rack on wheels and somehow flipped it over and about ten out of forty of them escaped from their cages. This was in a double-door secure room with concrete walls and floor built to be rat escape-proof and had professional staff on call in case such a thing ever happen. Two of them managed to remain free for three days in there before anyone found them and it was considered a severe study emergency.

Rats are really just ninjas except smaller and with much worse teeth.

Lone intruder is a possibility, but never assume as much. Keep setting traps. They are effective over time. The most important thing, though, is to find out how they got in and fix it.

This advice always puzzled me. It makes sense, of course, but it just doesn’t seem practical. My attic has holes everywhere many of them seemingly by design - vents and such. It would take me forever to block them all. Do other people do this?

In the five years I have lived in my house, I have had traps and poison all the time. I have caught only 3 rats so far (and had one nasty lingering smell from a dead rat I couldn’t find). That’s roughly one a year.

I suppose the rat could be working alone, considering we found a single dead rat in the yard six months ago and have no signs of any others, but once they get inside a building, they tend to invite their friends in too.

You don’t get soup with one dead rat.

  • Ry Cooder

If you don’t, what you’ve got is an animal sanctuary, not an attic.

I can’t imagine any reason why you wouldn’t want to block these openings. Vents should have some sort of wire mesh or screens over them. If you have holes big enough for rats, then you also have to be worried about mice, bats, squirrels, and all sorts of nasty critters. They spread disease and can cause serious structural damage.

If you want peace of mind, put a strip of bacon on the floor. No poison or trap anywhere near it. If you have another rat the bacon will be gone.

Our exterminator said rats tend to be in few numbers. So one rat could be an isolated case of an opportunist breaking in. But one mouse means lots of mice.