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Why Do I Have Rats Scratching Under the Floorboards?

A rat coming up through the floorboardsr

Can you hear rats scratching under floorboards?

Nothing is worse than hearing scratching and gnawing beneath your floorboards late at night.

Rats are bad enough when you can see them, but when they’re scurrying around out of reach, it can drive you to madness.

If you want to put an end to your midnight misery, you need to understand how rats got under your home in the first place and what you can do to stop them.

Old houses are more vulnerable to rat attacks

While rats can find their way into almost any structure, it’s period homes – which make up a substantial portion of London’s housing stock – that are most vulnerable to rat infestations beneath the floorboards.

From the Edwardian era all the way to the mid-20th century, houses were built with very shallow foundations, often less than a foot deep.

To stop moisture rising through the floor, houses were suspended slightly above the ground with a void underneath. To ventilate this void, airbricks were installed on either side of the house.

This dark, damp void is an ideal habitat for rats, especially if water has pooled beneath the house. From there, they can slip through holes in the floor or gnaw new ones to sneak into your home.

Period homes that are left vacant are notorious for harbouring swarms of rats beneath them, which can spill over into neighbouring properties when their population reaches breaking point.

Unlike mice, which nest very close to a food source, rats will steal food and take it back to a nest elsewhere, making a rat infestation a health hazard for all homes and businesses surrounding an infested property.

How do rats get beneath my floorboards?

Rats are known to be able to burrow five metres beneath the ground, though they usually only bother to burrow around half a metre.

This is more than enough depth for rats to dig beneath the shallow foundations of a typical period home and into the void below.

If they don’t simply tunnel their way in, broken airbricks are another easy route into your home. Original airbricks were built from clay which erodes over time and soft enough for rats to chew through, while metal airbricks can rust and crack.

While rats can’t fit through an intact airbrick, the holes are often wide enough for mice to simply slip through, as their collapsible skeletons can squeeze through a hole the width of a ballpoint pen.

Modern airbricks are typically made from plastic, less prone to decay, but still often soft enough for rats to gnaw. One of our first priorities when rodent proofing a home is to swap out all airbricks with gnaw-proof replacements.

How can I stop rats getting under my floorboards?

First of all, don’t lay poisons.

Live rats beneath your floorboards are awful, but dead rats can be even worse.

Rats are large animals, and their corpse takes weeks to decompose. During this time, your house will be filled with sickening smells, while maggots and flies have a feeding frenzy beneath your house.

The affect on your quality of life and the risk of disease from a rat corpse is often worse than a live one, especially if it dies in an area of your home that you can’t access.

At the same time, you can’t live alongside them, so what are your options?

First, you need the rats to be exterminated by a professional pest control company who use specialist traps and poisons or, in our case, a trained rat catching dog.

Then, most importantly, your home needs to be rodent-proofed. Killing the rats beneath your floorboards will only give you temporary relief if you don’t take measures to stop them coming back.

We provide a thorough rodent-proofing service for your entire home, from its foundations to the roof. And thanks to our skilled tradespeople in Environ Property Services, we can make repairs and alterations far beyond what a typical pest control company is capable of.

Call us now and we’ll get rid of the rats beneath your floorboards

No more sleepless nights, no more crawling around with a flashlight. Give us a call now or request your call back and we’ll get rid of the rats beneath your floorboards and keep them out – for good.

How Rats Get Under Your Floor

  • Period properties are built slightly above the ground with a void underneath to stop moisture rising from the soil. This is the perfect hiding place for rats.
  • Rats can enter this void by burrowing underneath shallow foundations or crawling through broken air bricks.
  • Huge rat populations can build up beneath empty or derelict period buildings, spreading infestations to surrounding homes and businesses.
  • If rats are beneath your floor, don’t lay poisons. A dead rat can take weeks to rot, during which you’ll be subjected to disgusting smells and fly infestation.

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