Rodents that invade a home make their nests in three places: attics, underflooring, or inside walls. Of these three areas, rats will gravitate towards walls and ceilings because of the generous amount of insulation. Insulation is prime material for rat nests, and they’ll often settle in places that have plenty of it.
So is there insulation that is rat-proof? While there are certain types of insulation that can be more difficult for rats to chew or claw through, there is no material that we can use to prevent rat or mice activity entirely. Instead of focusing on insulation, homeowners should deploy other preventive measures to keep rats away.
Insulation is an essential part of any property: it keeps the heat inside during winter and vents excess warmth during the summer. It also prevents sound from coming in and out. Because of the significant energy savings and improvements to the quality of life, insulation inside most homes today can be found in the walls, attic, ceilings, and under the floor.
However, the material that usually makes up most thermal insulation is the perfect nesting material for rodents and mice. Since most thermal insulation is made of soft, easily malleable, or brittle material, rodents can either chew or claw their way inside it to make their nest. While it’s possible to make thermal insulation more difficult to chew through by adjusting or changing the bonding agent, there’s very little it can do to stop a rat from burrowing through.
This is why rodent-proof insulation doesn’t really exist. The very design of most insulation prevents it from being resistant to repeated and intense activities like chewing or clawing, which rodents and mice (especially in large numbers) will excel at.
Once mice find their way inside insulation, they can cause several problems for the property which can be difficult to manage and remove. The most significant issues they can cause are:
Rats will typically seek sources of heat once they’ve invaded a home. Thermal insulation in the walls and around the attic are prime locations for them to nest, especially because heat rises to these areas. Colonies that have settled in the walls can expand quickly, especially once they’ve become numerous enough to branch to other areas in the house.
In most cases, small colonies may draw larger colonies from outside the house. Rat urine and droppings are very pungent and attract rats of the same species which can contribute to the colony’s numbers. If left undetected, it’s possible for a small infestation to double in less than six months.
After establishing a nest, rats will look for food and water to support their growing numbers. Because walls run across rooms in the house, rats can easily make their way to places like the kitchen from adjoining rooms. Combined with the proximity of usual food storage to walls, this gives them easier access to food and water.
Rats are natural carriers of disease and bacteria, which can make any food they touch unfit for human consumption. Rats don’t need to take a bite from food to contaminate it: simply walking all over it or any sort of bodily contact will be enough to transfer any microorganisms that make their home on the rat’s body. This puts everyone in the area at risk of developing serious illnesses like leptospirosis if they eat rat-contaminated food.
Electrical wiring is often installed inside walls and right next to insulation, which can make them more likely to be damaged by rat activity. Aside from damaging appliances and other essential electrical components, this also puts the property at an increased risk of catching fire if a rat nibbles through something that short-circuits and sparks.
Rats will also use the tubing and access points of many electrical wiring as places to enter and exit rooms. They can even use them as bridges to cross into other houses, since rats are excellent climbers and can easily jump from electrical posts. The chewed-up insulation can also act as kindling, which can make any small fire spiral out of control.
The best way to keep rats away from your insulation is to make sure that they have no way of getting inside it. Once they’ve breached your walls, there’s very little that you can do to deal with a rat infestation aside from extensive remodeling and renovation.
Here are three things you can consider doing as a preventive measure:
Rats are less likely to settle in areas where they may encounter humans frequently or have less litter around for them to drag back to their nests for bedding. Cleaning the area and making sure there isn’t any garbage or food lying around is an excellent deterrent to rats.
You can also sanitize and deodorize the area to prevent any other rats from coming in. Pay special attention to rat droppings and urine, since the smell can often stick around even after a round of general cleaning. You can use special deodorizing products or a mixture of bleach and water to make sure that the scent goes away. This can help manage small rat colonies by preventing them from being detected by rats outside.
Rats can squeeze through spaces as small as a quarter-inch depending on their species, so you must identify and patch up any entry points into your insulation. Covering these holes will not only prevent rodent access, but it can also prevent any backdrafts and heat loss.
Sometimes rats can also choose to chew their way through the wall instead if they don’t find any holes. Old and weakened wood or drywall are some of the easiest entry points rats can make for themselves, and should be replaced as soon as you find them. Ideally, do regular inspection and maintenance of your walls and ceilings to check for places where water damage could’ve weakened them. This also prevents any further damage to electrical wiring.
While it’s possible to build property from the ground up in a way where it can deter mice, it’s not always the options owners have. In these situations, it’s best to call in an experienced rodent extermination company or pest control to evaluate the state of your property, manage rodent infestations, and recommend long-term solutions.
Professionals may also recommend other rat extermination and management methods for you to try, especially if you’re already dealing with a colony inside your property. They can give you affordable yet effective solutions that are tailored to your needs.
Rat-proof thermal insulation doesn’t exist, but you can keep away rats with careful planning and preventive measures. The best way to prevent rats from settling in your insulation is to make sure they never get to it at all.
Pinnacle Pest Management has extensive experience in rodent control and prevention with commercial and residential properties in California. Visit our site today for our complete list of service areas.
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