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For anyone who has ever wondered whether or not rats can climb walls, I can give you a definite yes and a definite no. Believe it or not, it depends upon the kind of rat you're dealing with.
To stop rats from climbing your walls you can use a smooth surface like a sheet of plastic or laminate secured to the base of the wall. Rats can't climb smooth surfaces, but they can climb drain pipes, cables, and other objects which will allow them to get into the walls of your home.
Types of rats you may have climbing your walls
If you have a Roof rat problem, you'll find those pests have a pretty good handle on scaling walls. But, if you're trying to work against Norway rats, climbing walls is not really an issue. The Norway rats tend to be slower and larger in size and much less athletic than their Roof rat relatives.
So, if you're seeing rats climbing the walls, you're probably looking at Roof rats. These rats aren't able to climb completely smooth surfaces, however. They actually need something to which they can grasp with their feet when they're going vertical. That's one reason you'll never see rats scaling glass surfaces – they literally have nothing they can grab.
Can Rats Jump?
Yes, they most definitely can, depending on what kind of rat you're dealing with. Some brown rats, for example, can jump straight up more than two feet.
The Power of Rats
Rats are incredible adversaries. They are quick and intelligent and able to get into some of the smallest spaces imaginable. They're able to climb trees, run along electrical wires and fences, climb just about any rough surface, run a marathon through pipes, and gnaw through things like aluminum sheeting, fiberglass, and even low-quality concrete blocks.
When it comes to the gnawing, I've learned that rats cannot gnaw through smooth surfaces. Their incisors are actually curved inwards slightly, and for them to be able to chew through something, they need something that juts out. Having all exterior openings covered with a smooth surface prevents the rodents from being able to gain access.
Rats are clever and resourceful and they also carry a number of different diseases. If you go to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, you'll see exactly how many vile illnesses can be caused by rats. For example, Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS) is caused by a virus that's airborne and is spread by rat urine, feces, and saliva.
Naturally, if you want to prevent yourself from acquiring any of the numerous diseases you can get from rats, you're going to want to just stop the rodent problem from getting a stronghold at your location.
It's not just diseases you need to worry about. I can't tell you how often the damage caused by rats has turned into a financial nightmare. Rats love to gnaw and they love to gnaw on anything they can get their little teeth into – including electrical wiring, plumbing fixtures, vents, walls, doors, and many other areas.
This can lead to costly repairs. Preventing rats from taking up residence in a location can save a great deal of money in the long run.
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Stopping the Rat
You need to know how to stop rats climbing walls, obviously. That means pre-emptive striking.
At the first sign of a rodent problem, you need to take action. If you see even one tiny little rat dropping, you know you've got an uninvited guest – and you need to make sure you're pulling up the welcome mat. The sooner you go pro-active, the greater the likelihood you'll successfully keep rats from becoming a major problem.
With such a wide range of abilities, you're probably thinking that there's no way possible to stop these vermin from scaling our walls. But, I'm here to tell you that you'd be wrong. There are ways to keep those little buggers from getting the upper hand if you're willing to put in a little effort.
Surfaces Rats Can't Climb
- Single-sheet plastic: If you're wondering what can rats not climb up, the answer is they are foiled by anything that is extremely slippery. One way to stop a rat from climbing your walls is to install a slick surface over your existing wall. There are some kinds of single-sheet plastic that can be put over the current wall. The slick surface will prevent rats from being able to climb and cause problems.
- Single-sheet laminate: Another solution is to use a single-sheet laminate. The laminate works well because it's easy to install, extremely lightweight, and lasts for years when taken care of properly.
- Tile: The smooth surface of the tile wall keeps rats from getting sufficient purchase in order to do their parkour scaling. I've found that the best kind of tiles to use are the smaller tiles. When I've gone with larger tiles, there's a lot more grout surface available and that might be enough to allow the rats to work their vertical magic.
Related: How to catch mice in your walls
Of course, if rats are climbing your walls, you need to find out where the little pests are sneaking in. You'll want to go around the perimeter of your structure and look for the telltale signs that let you know you've got a rodent problem. You'll find rub marks (which is where the ground has been rubbed smooth by the rats coming and going) and droppings and signs of gnawing.
Vents and cables
Check the external dryer vent to make sure there's screening in place to prevent the occasional rat from deciding to drop in for a visit. You'll also want to look around any area that has cables going to and from the location.
Let's say that you've discovered you've got rats in the walls. Your next step is to go about removing rats in your walls.
If the rats are actually alive and inside the walls, your best bet is going to be to set traps to catch them. When setting the trap, always make sure to be wearing disposable gloves. Rats have a highly developed sense of smell and if they detect your scent, they might avoid going near the trap.
When it comes to trapping the rats, the key to success is to set lots of traps. If you only have a few scattered here and there, the rats might well avoid them entirely. But when you have traps set in every area where you see evidence of rat infestation, you'll greatly increase the likelihood you'll be able to trap them.
There are different traps you can use. These range from the old-school deadly snap traps all the way to several kinds of non-deadly humane traps. I've found the snap traps can deliver quite a sting if you're not careful when you set up the initial trap. Still, rats are extremely bright and they aren't always eager to enter any kind of box trap. With the snap trap, the rats are able to get a full view of every area of the trap, which causes them to let their guard down.
Of course, if you're going to use a humane trap, you'd best make sure that when you release the captive rat, it's far, far away from wherever you're trying to protect. There's no point in letting the rat out of the trap when you're a block away. That highly developed sense of smell will have the rodent coming back to your place before you know it – and the little guy is going to be smart enough to know not to come near that trap again.
Keeping the Rats Out
According to the Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Management, when you do find the areas that might be where the rats are coming in, you can use something simple such as steel wool to create a barrier. For a more permanent solution, you can actually use concrete patching to keep the rats from gaining entry.
You've now learned quite a bit about how to stop rats climbing walls. It might seem like a daunting task, but as we've gone over, there are a number of steps you can take to make sure your home or business becomes rodent-free – and remains that way.