Pest Issues

How to Get Rid of Rats in the Roof Without Poison

Carlos Aranguiz /

If you’ve recently encountered every homeowner’s furry little nightmare (yes, we are talking about rats!), you’re not alone. Don’t let their small size mislead you – these creatures can cause significant damage to your house, contaminate food and spread diseases. If you’re looking for a natural way to deal with rats in your roof space, you’ve landed in the right place.

Table of Contents:

What attracts rats to your house

So, you’re probably convinced you don’t want rats in your peaceful home. But do you know what attracted them to your house in the first place? Some key factors that tempt these rodents:

Poor sanitation 

Rats don’t just appear out of nowhere. If they are present, then they have easy access to food and water sources. You should always keep your roof area clean because these rodents can be attracted by every bit of garbage scattered throughout the house. 

Safety and comfort

Rats are warm-blooded animals, so they seek a warm, comfortable place to nest. They will stay inside your roof space for as long as it provides them protection and shelter. 

Food, food, food

Your recently discovered roofmates (pun intended!) aren’t picky eaters. In fact, they will gladly feed on every piece of food they find. You should keep the areas where food is prepared and consumed clean and free of unprotected leftovers or crumbs.

Other pests that might nest in your roof space or on it are pigeons. Learn how to deal with them when they nest on your roof.

The roof rat – Get to know the enemy

If the scurrying sound comes from above and keeps you up at night, then your unwelcome guests have probably invaded your house’s roof and ceiling. Chances are, you’re dealing with Roof rats, also known as Black rats. Here’s how to recognize them:  

Physical features 

Roof rats are rodents with large eyes and ears, a pointed nose and a scaly long tail.

Fur and colour 

Their thin body has smooth and soft fur that is usually black or dark brown with intermixed spots of black.


The roof rat droppings are spindle-shaped and reach about 1/2 inch in size, a little smaller than those of the brown rat.


Roof rats not only contaminate stored food and spread diseases but also chew and gnaw through solid materials. They are nocturnal animals and search for food at night.


As you can guess by their name, roof rats are good climbers and they usually build nests in the upper areas of the house. You can find them in various places, including: 

  • Ceilings
  • Attics
  • Cabinets
  • Voids along the roofline
  • Inside walls and sheetrock

Rat mites

If you’ve ever heard of biting mites, you know rat mites can be even worse than bed bugs, as they infest rats. They are just as bad as they sound, as they can trigger allergies and eczema.

Home remedies to get rid of roof rats

Killing rats with poison involves effort, mess and potential danger to children or pets in the house. If you don’t want to cause unnecessary pain, you may want to try some natural rat repellents to get rid of the cheeky rodents that are hiding in your roof space without poison. 

Keep in mind that the following home remedies can’t do wonders – you can rely on them only if you’re certain you don’t have a large infestation.

Place mothballs

Mothballs are a great rat repellent as they are poisonous to them. You can place a good amount of them in your attic, basement, kitchen, yard, or in any other area where you suspect rat presence.

You’re probably familar with the invasive smell of mothballs. Traditionally, they’re made with naphthalene or paradichlorobenzene, which give off that characteristic smell. But the good news is that odorless ones exist! Search ones with pyrethroid if you want to avoid smelling up your attic, vents or basement.

Use peppermint oil

Rats can’t stand the smell of peppermint oil. Dip some cotton balls in peppermint oil and spread them throughout the rat-prone areas. If you don’t have peppermint oil, great alternatives are citronella oil and castor oil. 

Pour ammonia

Ammonia is a fantastic rat repellent. Its strong odour keeps rats away for good. In a bowl, mix ¼ water, 2 cups of regular ammonia, and 2 tablespoons of detergent. Place the bowl in the infested area and let it do its magic.

Sprinkle pepper flakes

Pepper flakes have a sharp and unpleasant smell that rats can’t stand. It also makes it difficult for them to breathe. Sprinkle it around areas where rats like to hide.

Slice onion and garlic

The smell of onions and garlic is not just unpleasant to humans, it also works the same way on rats. Place slices of onions outside their holes anywhere you’ve seen them. It will push them away and they won’t want to return. 

Keep in mind that you will have to replace the onions with fresh ones as they will rot within a couple of days. Throw away the old ones, as they can be toxic to kids and pets.

Spread instant potato powder

Sprinkle instant potato powder around areas you’ve seen rats. When they consume the powder, it will cause inflammation inside their intestines and kill them.

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Signs of an infestation despite all of your efforts?

In case you have tried all of the tips mentioned above, but have been unsuccessful, and the rats still wander around your roof. You may be dealing with a large infestation that you won’t be able to deal with on your own. The most efficient and reliable way to eliminate rats for good is by hiring a professional rat exterminator.

We at Fantastic Services offer a great option, including 3 main stepsinspection, baiting and sealing entry points of the rats’ hideouts. We provide you with professional pest controllers who will determine the level of the damage and will effectively treat the problem so that there is no future damage to your house.

Professional rat control service near you!

We will make sure your home is safe and rodent-free.

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Rat prevention tips

Once the furry rodents are gone from your roof, you can finally sleep in peace. Now it’s time to prevent future infestations and learn how to keep rats away for good. 

Keep your house clean and tidy

Pests enjoy clutter and will happily live in a place with a lot of it. That’s why you need to keep your property clutter-free. Remove any piles of newspapers and wood away from your home. Clean your home thoroughly at least once a week. If your attic is full of old cardboard boxes, consider getting rid of them.

Repair your home

Rats can get inside very tiny cracks and crevices. Seal up any holes or cracks in your roof area with silicone caulk and make sure that all windows and vents are properly screened.

Store food in airtight containers

Rodents have a very sensitive sense of smell, so they can be easily attracted to any food left out in the open. Cover the rubbish bin at all times. If you have a pet, store their food in rat-proof containers. When feeding your beloved pet, try to give them just enough food for one serving. As it won’t stay in their bowl for too long and attract the pesky rodents. 

Consider getting a cat

Cats are not just great companions but will keep your home safe from rats. They will hunt the rodents and will kill them when they get their paws on them. No rat will want to step close to your home knowing that you have a cat.

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  • Knowing what attracts rats to your property will help you stop them from coming back.
  • The best way to deal with rats in the roof is by preventing them.
  • Natural remedies will help you get rid of rats in the roof but are not as effective as using chemicals.
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4 years ago

With the ammonia mixture do you mean a quarter a cup of water or a quart of water? Sorry but it’s not clear. Thank you

3 years ago

After reading this I decided to try the moth ball approach–big mistake. I deployed a good deal of moth balls into the attic only to find my entire house literally fumigated in a very short time. This remedy may possibly have worked for evicting the rats but it created an entirely new problem in ridding the house/attic of the napthaline fumes permeating the environment–a serious health hazard, I came to find out. Researching the issue after the fact I found several warnings NEVER to place moth balls in the attic!

The solution I figured out was to remove a turbine vent from the roof and place a $100.00 attic fan I bought at Home Depot over the hole to suck out the fumes. Granted, the house soon cleared of those fumes but I was frantic in figuring out what to do and in a big hurry!

I think it would have been smart to leave the moth balls in their perforated bag and hang it strategically somewhere up there, that way I could have removed them when/if I noticed the strong fumes.

If you do this be sure to have a way to re-collect the moth balls, rather than broadcasting them all throughout the attic, like I did.

Christina Meitanis
Christina Meitanis
3 years ago
Reply to  Dalton

I now have the same problem! I’m so annoyed, my house stinks! I have ducted heating in my roof & now whenever I use the heater, it blows down the smell of moth balls. Do not follow the advice on this page in regards to moth balls, big mistake!!

The Fantastic Team
The Fantastic Team
1 year ago

We’re sorry you had this problem. We added a disclaimer to prevent other people from doing that and regretting it. Just a heads-up – odorless mothballs exist, just look for the ingredient “pyrethroid”.

Nancy Donovan
Nancy Donovan
9 months ago

If the odor of the mothball is what drives the rat away, will the odorless mothballs work?

2 years ago

Want to get rid of roof rats

John Cheater
John Cheater
7 months ago

Interesting article, but some items need clarification.

  1. Citronella oil is flammable so recommended not to be used
  2. Pepper flakes – do you mean chilli or red pepper?
  3. Odorless mothballs – how do the rats smell them?
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