Recently we received a question from one of our homeowners. It made its way to our President’s desk. Here is his answer:
More than likely you have roof rats. They nest in the spring and usually choose a place off the ground. It is not scratching you hear but gnawing. Rats continually sharpen their teeth by gnawing on objects. They can, and have, started fires by gnawing on exposed electrical cords in attics. (Neighbors of ours had their house burn to the ground while on a 3 week vacation. They lost everything)
Contact pest control. They will try to find the entry point and provide bated traps. The problem with poison traps is that the rats will most likely die in the walls or ceiling of your house. After a few days, your house will smell like dead rotting flesh for about 2 weeks. Then, maggots and flies follow. On the other hand, the rat could venture outside after ingesting poison and be eaten by another animal; that animal will die as well. It's a double-edged sword using poison. Using "snap" or "glue" traps is tricky as rats are very smart and will avoid those by jumping over or going around them. Rats, like raccoons, are opportunists when it comes to food. They are attracted to the unpicked citrus fruit on grapefruit, orange and lemon trees. All fruit must be picked as it ripens.
If neighbors are feeding raccoons, stray cats, birds, etc. by leaving food outside they are also providing food for rats. So, talk to your neighbors. Why, you might ask, do I know so much about roof rats? For 30 years, we lived on the edge of a wildlife preserve in Northern California. Each spring we had roof rats come into the attic. For years, we searched for the entry and not until we moved in 2015 did we find the entry behind a garage cabinet that tumbled over when we were rearranging the garage for the buyers! We plugged the hole up with canned foam insulation. Well, no doubt this is more than you wanted to know but I hope you find it helpful.
Answer by Kim Fuller