Rats: An Ounce of Prevention

  • Ben Franklin had it right when it comes to pest management. The best way to deal with a rodent or damaging insect problem in your home is to not have one to begin with.


Because of the rapid population explosion of roof rats in western Washington over the last ten years, the stereotypical scenario one thinks of as a “rat infested dump” rarely applies anymore. The stigma and embarrassment associated with discovering a rat infestation in one’s home is now lessened by the sheer number of rats invading our area. Their propensity to exploit all food, water and harborage opportunities across all geographic and demographic spectrums has made this a widespread problem. In short: They are everywhere and you are not alone!

  • Stop feeding them!

While rats have always been drawn to the easy pickings of restaurant dumpsters, landfills and developed waterfront settings, they are now just as commonly found in crawl spaces and attics of homes at your local high-end Golf and Country Club. As these critters are extremely mobile and secretive, travelling from tree to tree or along powerlines at night, they can cover a lot of ground in their discovery of new, yet unexploited food, water and harborage sites. Since just about everyone enjoys grilling outdoors (food source) next to their garden pond or water feature (water source), while watching the birds and squirrels feast on the feed generously put out for them (food source), not to mention the compost bin next to the garden (rat heaven), we’ve provided the perfect environment for rats to survive comfortably and keep coming back for more.

  • Don’t let them into your house!

The most common way that a rat will enter a crawlspace is through a poorly fitted crawl access hatch, usually built into an exterior foundation wall and made accessible by a hole dug outside the wall and a steel or concrete dam placed to keep soil from collapsing back into the access hole. While these are often adequate for that purpose, with a wood lid placed on top to keep water out, more often than not there are openings left large enough for mice and rats to gain entrance. A one inch gap is enough for an adult male roof rat to fit through. Damaged or cut foundation vents are the next most common access points that rats will find. It is common practice for utilities to be piped or wired through these vents and then not be re-sealed adequately.


Some of the more obvious in-roads that rodents can take to access your home are through open doors! Many folks, (myself included) may leave their garage doors open for a period of time while working on projects or unloading vehicles. If a mouse or rat is motivated by food smells or warmth, they will make a run for it while you are distracted. Many homes have a furnace in the garage with ducting that passes into the crawl space. More often than not, there are gaps around this transition where rodents can access the crawlspace. Likewise, any door can have a gap at the bottom big enough for mouse or rat access if there is no well- fitted sweep. If you can roll a number two pencil under your door, there’s enough room for a mouse to fit through!

Less obvious access points I have encountered during inspections include cracks and gaps around exterior chimneys, small pet doors, damaged window screens (while windows are left open), and in some rarer cases, tunneling under foundation walls.

Rats and mice can take a large financial toll if they make their way into your vehicle as well. Chewed and soiled upholstery, wiring and insulation can add up to thousands of dollars in repair and replacement. Just ridding the interior of a car of the smell of rodent waste can take weeks of airing out and lots of cleaning.

  • We can help!

A thorough inspection of your home and property to identify pest access points as well as other conditions conducive to rodent harborage or feeding, is the first step in a comprehensive and integrated plan to eliminate any existing infestation within your structure as well as preventing re-entry of pests in the future. We would be happy to answer any questions you may have, whether you are tackling a rat problem on your own or would like us to propose a solution for you.

Evan Ogden

Wolberts Plant Essentials

Home Shield pest prevention


360 250 6346