Dealing with rats in subfloor void

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sammy.se

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Hi there

I live in a victorian terraced house and I have discovered some fresh rat droppings in the sub floor void (under my ground floor floorboards)

My cat sits and stares at a particular place so I think that is where they are.

Not sure how they got in. All my airbricks are intact.

How should I deal with this? Any advice welcome. I've ordered some conventional rat traps to try and get them.

I have no idea where they are getting food. There is no evidence they are coming into my home above the floorboards...

Thanks
Sammy
 
Oh dear, you have my sympathy they are a right pain when they find a way in. When I lived , in a large terraced house, we had the same problem. We called in the council 'rat catcher' who laid poisoned bait. We were told that they come in through the sewers - and ,in fact ours was pushing up a small drainage cover in our cellar, to gain access.

Traps, don't necessarily work as the rats are quite savvy, and can learn what to avoid, which is why the professionals seem to rely on bait. The only problem with this is that if the rat dies somewhere inaccessible the smell can be pretty rank.

I had a job once, looking for dead rats under floorboards in a National Trust property.. The residents thought they could smell one - though none could be found. They had found some earlier, but I think that once your nasal receptors have been assailed, you seem to be able to smell them everywhere.
 
As you are in a terraced property there is the possibility they are getting in via your neighbours property, you will usually only get rats where they have access to a food source. Do you or they feed the birds as rats and other vermin love these easy meals replenished on a daily basis,they wont stray far from a reliable food source. Traps and poison work best when they are hungry as they are quite clever little B uggers and wont go near them if they have full bellies.
 
Telltale signs are greasy black marks along walls and around holes where their runs are.
Young rats can get through a terracotta air brick so it's worth checking them.

If you've only just bought the traps you may have to fettle them to get them to work efficiently. There are often burs on moving parts, release rods and so on that can lead to a rat being caught but not killed. Another good reason to screw or tie the trap to something.

Where possible I'd use bait in a suitable bait box, but tie that to something too, the mice in our loft managed to drag a box onto the loft hatch and it sounded like a herd of elephants clog dancing up there.
 
Do you have cavity walls? Rats can climb really well and can go up into your roof space or where a pipe enters and is not fully sealed, and down the cavity and then in through the air brick openings on the inner wall or around floor joists. bit more difficult if you are in a terrace as it may not be your house that they are coming in through. I doubt they would travel far from the entrance though so likely to be your direct neighbours houses if its not yours with the hole.

anywhere you suspect as their entry put some leaves/dirt in the way and check if it's moved.

I think I've got mice coming in through a small hole by my door but I don't want to kill them so going to make a one way gate so they can leave but not re-enter (hopefully).
 
We had a rat problem when we moved into our current house.
I found the nest was under the rear of the garage, had some petrol for the lawnmower and poured it down and lit a match, I didn't realise there was another access point next to where I was standing, frightened life out of me!

Another one was under the house so petrol was out but the wallpaper stripper was handy which with a 50/50 mix of bleach boiled up and stuck the hose down. Didn't see them again!!
 
Thanks so much for all the helpful advice. Replies below...

Oh dear, you have my sympathy they are a right pain when they find a way in. When I lived , in a large terraced house, we had the same problem. We called in the council 'rat catcher' who laid poisoned bait. We were told that they come in through the sewers - and ,in fact ours was pushing up a small drainage cover in our cellar, to gain access.

Traps, don't necessarily work as the rats are quite savvy, and can learn what to avoid, which is why the professionals seem to rely on bait. The only problem with this is that if the rat dies somewhere inaccessible the smell can be pretty rank.

I had a job once, looking for dead rats under floorboards in a National Trust property.. The residents thought they could smell one - though none could be found. They had found some earlier, but I think that once your nasal receptors have been assailed, you seem to be able to smell them everywhere.

Yes, I am trying to avoid using poison so that I don't have to go searching for a dead rat and move all the furniture and pull up the carpets. I've had dead mice before and that is bad enough! I don't have any sewer connections under the house - all are external (back garden). I have no idea where they are coming from. I suspect it's one of three things: 1) From a neighbour, through a hole in a party wall. 2) Through a gap where the mains water and gas come in, 3) They've dug a tunnel in the subfloor.

I'll need to figure this out :-(
As you are in a terraced property there is the possibility they are getting in via your neighbours property, you will usually only get rats where they have access to a food source. Do you or they feed the birds as rats and other vermin love these easy meals replenished on a daily basis,they wont stray far from a reliable food source. Traps and poison work best when they are hungry as they are quite clever little B uggers and wont go near them if they have full bellies.
I suspect you may be right Mark.b, but I can't for the life of me figure out where they are getting food. There is no food available to them from my property, and (very thankfully!) they do not emerge at all into my house - no signs on them at all. If it wasn't for my cat, I wouldn't have even known to check under the floor.
I can only think they are feeding on something from a neighbour's house. I have no idea...


Screw the traps to a board to stop them flipping over. Use peanut butter - the little beggars can't resist it.
Thanks for the tip!!


Telltale signs are greasy black marks along walls and around holes where their runs are.
Young rats can get through a terracotta air brick so it's worth checking them.

If you've only just bought the traps you may have to fettle them to get them to work efficiently. There are often burs on moving parts, release rods and so on that can lead to a rat being caught but not killed. Another good reason to screw or tie the trap to something.

Where possible I'd use bait in a suitable bait box, but tie that to something too, the mice in our loft managed to drag a box onto the loft hatch and it sounded like a herd of elephants clog dancing up there.

Thankfully no signs (greasy marks or droppings) they are in my house above the floorboards - just underneath.
It's entirely possible they have got through terracotta air bricks - mine are intact, but maybe I should add mesh on them??
@Tris how would I use a bait box and trap? put that trap in the bait box you mean?


An old trick is to tie the trap in a sack - it's not so recognisable as a trap.
Good idea! and will make getting rid of them a bit easier if I can just throw the sack out.


Do you have cavity walls? Rats can climb really well and can go up into your roof space or where a pipe enters and is not fully sealed, and down the cavity and then in through the air brick openings on the inner wall or around floor joists. bit more difficult if you are in a terrace as it may not be your house that they are coming in through. I doubt they would travel far from the entrance though so likely to be your direct neighbours houses if its not yours with the hole.

anywhere you suspect as their entry put some leaves/dirt in the way and check if it's moved.

I think I've got mice coming in through a small hole by my door but I don't want to kill them so going to make a one way gate so they can leave but not re-enter (hopefully).
No, my walls are solid, not cavity. I will need to remove a lot (!) of floorboards to see where they are coming from, and I'm worried they will run into my house! eek

I had good success using rat and mouse traps by keeping them baited for three or four days with peanut butter but not setting them. Then I set the traps with more fresh bait and was removing ex-rats several times a day.
good idea!! My traps arrive today, so will leave them unset, with food, to get them used to it.


We had a rat problem when we moved into our current house.
I found the nest was under the rear of the garage, had some petrol for the lawnmower and poured it down and lit a match, I didn't realise there was another access point next to where I was standing, frightened life out of me!

Another one was under the house so petrol was out but the wallpaper stripper was handy which with a 50/50 mix of bleach boiled up and stuck the hose down. Didn't see them again!!
I will have to put something down there to deter them, assuming I can't find and block where they came in from!
 
You can get a trap in a box, useful if pets could get to it, but as it's under the floor that shouldn't be a problem. I'd always use a box for bait though.
 
There was a joke many years ago in the States about the questionable effectiveness of a popular brand of rat poison called d-Con. The preferred method was to put fresh d-Con out for five days in a row for the rats to eat. From the sixth day on, don't put any out. The rats will get mad and leave.
 
We had a similar issue with a rental property and spent ages trying to track where they were getting in. It was via the neighbours property in the end.

Traps and poison are a temporary solution - others will move in as soon as you have cleared the bodies.
 
They may just be living,sheltering from the cold ,visiting in your space, but eating elsewhere.peanut butter every time.the plastic "snap traps" jaws which are black, and about as big as a size 7 shoe come ready baited with peanut butter. We have two in the garden at all times and one in my workshop , plus one under the upstairs floor ( they get in under the eaves ) and shelter from the cold in the floor space.There is an abandoned bungalow about 10 metres from our house ( their roof will fall in within a year or two, the brambles are already at the roof pitch line and and it has a tree growing in the living room ) - we tried to buy it , owner is an alcoholic who doesn't want to know, he inherited various houses and a lot of money, he has another very big place ( also abandoned ) at the entrance to our private road. The place behind us ( about 50 metres away ) is a "second home".When they come , they bring their 3 chickens.Where there are chickens the rats will come. Our cat catches around 10 to 20 rats per year in our garden ( including the big ones at 40cms or so including tails* ) , but he has been known to bring them inside to show us. Sometimes they are alive, which does not go down well with SWMBO ( who has a rat , mouse phobia ) He brought her a live one and tucked it up in the duvet, she heard saw it when she went to bed. So now we supplement with traps. I gave the cat a very stern verbal. He has not done it since. I once had 23 pet rats ( white kind ) many years before SWMBO came on the scene, I let them out to watch TV with me in the evenings, they'd all curl up one me and go to sleep "bruxing"**, interesting intelligent animals , the em********** was the younger ones would get into the gas stove exploring and I'd have to take it apart to rescue them before using it. Adult rats can jump vertically well over a metre if they have to, rat bites are very painful, not as painful as ferret bites ( as small animal bites go ), wild ones will usually run away. Some won't, enough of them in a pack will not back down and are best avoided in groups, they co-ordinate well, in attack or defense.

* I've seen, and been menaced by far bigger in other countries..Malta, the rats there are the size of large cats, and the street cats there are often the size of Maine Coons, neither back down from much at all. Rats on islands tend to be bigger than average.
** noise they make which sounds like a small snore crossed with teeth grinding, rat equivalent of purring.
If you can find where they are getting in, put cat rubbish there, just a little will do, or fox rubbish is even better ( albeit smellier ) it will make them turn around and go elsewhere. they avoid the smell of their own predators.

Ah ! just noticed the bad word filters kicked in, thus, for "rubbish" read "dyslexic" carp ;-)
 
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We had a similar issue with a rental property and spent ages trying to track where they were getting in. It was via the neighbours property in the end.

Traps and poison are a temporary solution - others will move in as soon as you have cleared the bodies.

Specifically, how from the neighbour's property? a hole in the wall?

They may just be living,sheltering from the cold ,visiting in your space, but eating elsewhere.peanut butter every time.the plastic "snap traps" jaws which are black, and about as big as a size 7 shoe come ready baited with peanut butter.
Can you tell me more about which brand this is? I can't find those... only standard looking mousetrap type ones.
 
Just been for a look, ours are black plastic jaws, with a yellow sticker marked "piege à rat" ( rat trap )..no makers ID.Garden centres and farm supply places sell them, cost about 7 or 8 euros each.Highly effective, when they go off they "clack" very loudly , the rat is instantly dead.You do not want to get your finger caught in one of these rat traps, broken finger assured.They have to be set so that cats and children cannot get their fingers or paws near the jaws.
 
Some links, the pictures might help you find these type in the UK
https://ecomparatif.fr/meilleur-piege-a-rat/the type you want is 3 rd down..the Giverny ..or
https://www.amazon.fr/Piège-Rat-Sou...7?keywords=piege+a+rat&qid=1677678713&sr=8-27or
https://www.leroymerlin.fr/produits...es/piege-a-rats-kb-home-defense-85565813.htmlOurs might well be the latter type at Leroy Merlin * , the brand is apparently KB here.

Farm shops, garden centres here are cheaper for these than elsewhere.

Ps Leroy Merlin is actually pronounced ( near enough ) as luh wah meh lan .

HTH :) Mike
 
Yes!! Used a crossbow for them when we had our huge workshop near St Tropez. Crossbow and a glass or two of rosé from my mates domaine, and a.22 garden gun.The other banging machines would be a bit over kill for rodents. The rats were bigger there too. There and here we also have ragondin, I think you call them Coypu ? Not aggressive but they dig deep burrows and cows step in them and sometimes break their legs, here in Brittany you see them occasionally on the side of the road where cars have hit them, sizes go from large cat to Labrador,they look rattish ( rounder head ) with shorter scaly tail.

A joke in the joke thread just reminded me of something, rats can also get in via the sewers if you have toilets on the ground floor, they have been known to get in via the U bend. I have not told SWMBO this, she has enough nightmares about spiders on/in the bed as it is , without worries about rats in the bowl when she wakes in the night. never happened here yet, but I know some people who it has happened to, who now put the seat down and put a brick on it.Course that wouldn't stop them whilst one was sitting on it. Our friends in Oz have far worse things hiding in theirs.
 
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