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Rat Removal and Control

Safe, Non-Chemical Rat Control in Metro Atlanta

Rat control at a commercial building in Atlanta, Georgia

Rat control at a commercial building in Atlanta, Georgia

There are many species of rats, but the two species that most often become pests in the Metro Atlanta Area and throughout Georgia are the roof rat (Rattus rattus), and the Norway or brown rat (Rattus norvegicus). Although both rat species are found in both urban and rural areas throughout Georgia, roof rats are slightly more common in wooded rural areas, and Norway rats are more common in urban areas such as Atlanta and Marietta.

Roof Rats

In nature, roof rats (also known as black rats or tree rats) live in trees and spend most of their time aloft. They're the kind of rats that are most often found in attics. They're smaller and slimmer than Norway rats, have exceptionally good balance, and are excellent climbers. Their biology and behavior, as well as the damage they do, are very similar to those of grey squirrels. They usually get into homes and other buildings by climbing up the walls, by running along tree branches that touch or overhang the house, or by running along aerial wiring that enters the building.

Norway Rats

Norway rats (also known as brown rats, sewer rats, water rats, or wharf rats) are burrowing animals by nature, but they're also happy to live in homes and other human-occupied buildings if given the opportunity. They have powerful teeth and jaws and can gnaw through most building materials. Quite often they'll burrow and gnaw their way into basements, crawl spaces, and gaps under sheds and storage buildings. Once they're inside a building, they can make their way through wall and ceiling voids and may migrate upwards, especially if that's where the food is or if population pressures force them to move. Norway rats are also excellent swimmers and are often found in sewers and around wharves and piers. And yes, rats can swim up into a toilet.

In short, Norway rats usually start at the bottom of a building and work their way up if they have to, and roof rats usually start at the top and work their way down if they have to. But these are just generalizations. Either specie can be found anywhere in a home or building; and once in a great while, both species can be found in different parts of the same building. You won't find Norway rats and roof rats in the same part of a building, though. Despite being close relatives, the two species do not get along at all.

Rats and Human Health

Rats have the dubious distinction of having been the first pest animals believed to spread diseases. Historical evidence suggests that rats have been associated with disease even before biblical times, and practically all epidemiologists believe that rats were a big part of the reason for all of history's great plague epidemics. Specifically, rats are reservoirs for Yersinia pestis, the bacterium that causes plague. The fleas that feed on the rats then vector the disease to humans. Rats are also associated with the transmission of leptospirosis, rat-bite fever, salmonellosis, and many other diseases.

The rat's unique place in the history of disease also gave birth to the profession of pest control. The first exterminators were called "rat catchers," and they did their job pretty much the same way Rid-A-Critter does today: by trapping rats and permanently sealing them out of buildings. Almost every building is vulnerable to rat infestations. They can even get into brick homes. We find those vulnerabilities using time-honored methods like looking for droppings and following, as well as high-tech methods such as night-vision cameras. However we find them, we fix the problems to keep the rats out.

Why Non-Chemical Rat Control and Exclusion is Better

There are quite a few problems with using chemical rodenticides for rat extermination. When you consider them all, we think you'll agree that Rid-A-Critter's safe, non-chemical approach is the best way to solve structural rat problems. Let's start by looking at some of the disadvantages of chemical rat control.

Rodenticides are poisons. Although this may seem redundant and obvious, the fact is that any poison we put into the environment has the potential to harm non-target animals. In the case of rat poisons, this actually is more common than most people realize. Many rodenticides are secondarily toxic, which means that an animal that eats a poisoned rat can be poisoned, as well. So if a hawk or a fox eats a poisoned rat, the hawk or fox may die, too.

A rat hole in the roof of a Marietta home, under the shingles in the corner

Roof rat hole found during a Marietta rat removal job

Poisoned rats die at home. Don't believe that nonsense that poisoned rats "go outside to seek water." Most rodenticides take several days to work, during which the rat begins to feel progressively sicker; and just as is the case with people, when rats start to feel sick, they go home. If the rat's "home" happens to be your home, then that's where they're going to die. And stink.

In fact, we do a lot of work finding and removing dead animals that were killed by the poisons that other rat exterminators left behind. It's not the most pleasant work that we do. Trust me on that. It also would have been entirely unnecessary had the job been done properly -- by trapping and removing the rats, and then sealing up the house -- rather than just tossing some poison around and calling it a day.

Non-chemical rat control is cheaper in the long run. When you pay an exterminator to control your rat problem using rodenticides, you make a friend for life: the exterminator. That's because the poisons exterminators use don't last forever. Rodenticides used inside or outside get eaten by rats and need to be replaced. They also get eaten by insects such as beetles, weevils, and moths. Even wax-encapsulated, "weather-resistant" rodenticides often get infested by insects or rot away because of mold.

As a result, rat control that relies on poisons while neglecting the more important work of rat exclusion requires that the exterminator visit you -- and bill you -- again, and again, and again, to check and refill the bait stations. That starts getting expensive after a while.

Are Rodenticides Ever Needed?

Yes, sometimes they are, especially outdoors; but almost never inside a building unless it's scheduled to be demolished.

For example, exterior use of rodenticides might make sense in cases of large outside populations of Norway (or "brown") rats burrowing in the ground outside your house or building. They're also useful as part of wide-area public health rat abatement programs. In addition, some types of commercial buildings such as commercial food-processing facilities may be required by law or by the sanitation standards of their industries to have rodent bait stations installed around the exterior perimeters of their buildings.

So yes, there are some cases when the use of rodenticides makes good sense; and when it makes sense, we use them. But most of the time rat poisons are neither necessary nor desirable. Safe, permanent, non-chemical rat removal and exclusion is always the better way to eliminate rats from a building.

If you live in Metro Atlanta and have a problem with Norway rats or roof rats, please contact us for more information about our long-lasting, exclusion-based rat-removal programs.

Rat Control Gallery

Here are some pictures we've taken at the many rat-removal and rat-proofing jobs we've done throughout Metro Atlanta.


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Another Failed Rat-Proofing Attempt by a Handyman in Atlanta
by Webmaster
Oct 11, 2019 10:26:46 am.

Havoc in you attic. Call us
by Jason Arruda
Oct 10, 2019 02:29:13 pm.

Roof Rats Chewed Through the Soffit Vent Screen in this Atlanta Home
by Webmaster
Oct 10, 2019 11:29:28 am.

Having a blast down here in Tifton Ga at the GPCA Fall Conference meeting new clients. Glad to be in great relationships with the pest control industry.
by Jason Arruda
Oct 10, 2019 10:45:32 am.

Typical Roof Rat Entry Gap into the Attic of a House in Duluth, Georgia
by Webmaster
Oct 07, 2019 10:56:44 am.

An Open-Door Policy Allowed Rats into a Crawl Space in Atlanta
by Webmaster
Oct 07, 2019 10:45:58 am.

Huge Rat Entry Gap Into a Brick House in Atlanta
by Webmaster
Oct 03, 2019 11:17:38 am.

Norway Rat Hole in a Brick House in Covington, Georgia
by Webmaster
Oct 02, 2019 10:36:44 am.

Norway Rats Got Into this Crawl Space in Atlanta
by Webmaster
Oct 01, 2019 10:25:05 am.

A Norway Rat Chewed Through the Siding into a House in Decatur, Georgia
by Webmaster
Sep 30, 2019 10:58:17 am.

Here We Have Another DIY Rat-Proofing Fail in Atlanta
by Webmaster
Sep 30, 2019 10:54:43 am.

Roof Rats Got into this Tyrone, Georgia Home through this Construction Gap
by Webmaster
Sep 27, 2019 09:43:09 am.

The Rats Damaged Items Stored in a House in Tucker, Georgia
by Webmaster
Sep 27, 2019 09:39:09 am.

Norway Rat Hole into a Brick House in Sandy Springs, Georgia
by Webmaster
Sep 26, 2019 10:29:47 am.

Norway Rats Gnawed Their Way Into a Garage in Dallas, Georgia
by Webmaster
Sep 26, 2019 10:25:06 am.

Just finished a rat clean-up and insulation blowback in Cartersville , now we are headed to Gainesville for a rat removal and exclusion.
by Jason McFarland
Sep 26, 2019 10:14:44 am.

Here's How Norway Rats Got Into a House in Stone Mountain, Georgia
by Webmaster
Sep 25, 2019 09:49:09 am.

Human-Aided Rat Entry into a House in Covington, Georgia
by Webmaster
Sep 24, 2019 11:45:55 am.

Norway Rat Hole into a Brick House in Atlanta
by Webmaster
Sep 23, 2019 11:28:01 am.

Norway Rats Were Getting in Through a Foundation Vent in Atlanta
by Webmaster
Sep 20, 2019 09:12:17 am.

Been a busy day in South Georgia today with attic noises and scratching noises in walls. Squirrels are here.
by Jason Arruda
Sep 19, 2019 02:34:56 pm.

Obvious Norway Rat Entry Hole into a House in Tucker, Georgia
by Webmaster
Sep 19, 2019 10:31:35 am.

Evidence of Rats in the Attic of a House in Atlanta
by Webmaster
Sep 18, 2019 12:05:20 pm.

Heavy Roof Rat Rub Marks on the Outside of a House in Atlanta
by Webmaster
Sep 16, 2019 11:34:27 am.

Roof Rats Got Into this Atlanta Home Through this Construction Gap
by Webmaster
Sep 16, 2019 11:28:50 am.

Norway Rats Got Into a Brick House in Stone Mountain, Georgia
by Webmaster
Sep 16, 2019 11:22:27 am.

Common Norway Rat Entry Point into a House in Berkeley Lake, Georgia
by Webmaster
Sep 16, 2019 11:13:20 am.

Interesting Norway Rat Hole in a House in Atlanta
by Webmaster
Sep 16, 2019 11:09:19 am.

A Norway Rat Chewed its Way Into a House in Marietta, Georgia
by Webmaster
Sep 12, 2019 11:59:16 am.

This Was How Roof Rats Got Into this House in Marietta, Georgia
by Webmaster
Sep 12, 2019 11:42:28 am.

The Roof Rats Got Into this Atlanta Home Through this Construction Gap
by Webmaster
Sep 11, 2019 12:36:34 pm.

A Norway Rat Gnawed at a Foundation Vent at this House in Atlanta
by Webmaster
Sep 11, 2019 12:31:22 pm.

The Atlanta, Georgia office of Rid-A-Critter provides rat extermination and removal in all of Metro Atlanta including the City of Atlanta and the communities of Berkeley Lake, Buckhead, College Park, Conyers, Decatur, Douglasville, Duluth, Fayetteville, Hull, Johns Creek, Lilburn, Lithonia, Loganville, Mableton, Marietta, McDonough, Newnan, Norcross, Peachtree City, Powder Springs, Sandy Springs, Smyrna, Stone Mountain, and Vinings.

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