9 Unmissable Signs You Have Rats In The Attic

Rodent Guide
Written By Rodent Guide

I believe in treating all creatures with respect. My mission is to ensure everyone understands how to protect their home from rodents without using cruel methods.

Attics are a great place for rats to hide!

Let’s face it, being a rodent must be tough. You are faced with danger daily. Being outside means you are in danger of being hunted from the ground and the air. Foxes, birds, and many other predators are out to get these rodents.

Rats need a place to hide! And fast.

Your attic is the perfect place, and while we humans are out to get rats, hiding from us is much easier. Once a rat gets into your attic, you must act fast before you have a family (rats have tons of babies)!

Do you think you have rats in the attic? Let’s take a look at the 9 most common signs.

What you will learn in this post:

  • 10 signs that you have rats in the attic.
  • Frequently asked questions

9 Signs Of Rats In The Attic

Signs You Have Rats In The Attic

Rat Droppings

The most obvious sign that you have rats in the attic is that they will leave rat droppings everywhere. You are probably already aware that rats are not the cleanliest of creatures that could be living in your house!

If you think you may have a rat in your attic, you need to get up there and investigate further.

When I first thought I had rats in my attic, I checked; and found rat poop everywhere!

Rat Urine

no rat urine

It may concern you to know that even breathing in dust contaminated with Rat urine can transmit Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome.

Symptoms are very similar to those of the flu and include; Fatigue, fever, vomiting, headaches, dizziness, sore throat, and runny nose. There are other symptoms too.

If you have rats in your attic, you must clean up the rat urine afterward.

Scratching Noises

If you lie in bed at night and hear scratching noises from above, you may have rats in the attic!

Rats are nocturnal, which means they sleep during the day and wake up to freak you out at bedtime. After sleeping 15 hours during the day, rats will be very active as soon as they wake up because they want to head off to get some food.

The noises you hear in your attic may be rats hunting around for food or extra bedding.

Chewed Items

chewed item

Rats need bedding, so they will be looking around your loft for things they can use. You will be surprised to learn what rats choose to use for extra bedding. Anything goes!

If you think you have rats in the attic, look around to see if anything has been chewed. Rats are pretty clever and will remember where things are, so when you find one chewed-up item, you will likely find more in that area.

A word of warning, rats will chew anything! Be careful while investigating a possible rat infestation, as they may have been chewing through cables, exposing live wires underneath. Rats may also leave sharp edges on chewed items, so ensure you wear some suitable footwear.

Live Rat

live rat

If you ask yourself, ‘do I have rats in my attic,’ and you see a live rat… then the answer is yes!

It goes without saying that if you find a live rat in your attic, you have a rat in the attic! Rats can be bold and still sneak around, even if it hears you coming.

In fact, on a recent vacation, we had at least 2 rats living in the attic. We knew about it when we looked between 2 chairs in the dining room and saw it looking up at us. The rest of the vacation was not that great!

If you have rats in the attic, do not think they will stay there and not visit the rest of the house. They will be on the lookout for food and nowhere is out of bounds.


You may smell a pungent, musky odor when you have a rat infestation.

As I mentioned above, rats are not the cleanliest of animals. They are one of the dirtiest. The odor of stale urine and feces will culminate into an unmistakable musky scent.

If you have recently noticed an odor in your house with no possible explanation, it is worth heading off upstairs to see if you have any rats living up there.

Very recently, a smell began in one of our rooms upstairs. After checking the entire room, I ventured up to the attic, and here is what I found:

rat in my attic

I am not sure how long it had been there, but it was removed immediately, along with the maggots tucking into it! All I had to do next was get rid of the dead rat smell!

Half-Eaten Food

half eaten food

If you have a rat living in the attic and find half-eaten food on the floor, it is likely because it was disturbed while attempting to take it back to the nest.

Unless you have kids or other animals (or are just plain messy), you will not likely see half-eaten food on the floor.

This is not just food; this also includes food packaging. Rats have a wonderful smell and can quickly identify food, even if wrapped tightly in a container. Their sharp, ever-growing teeth can easily cut inside to get what they need.

Increased Pet Activity

A cat is a handy tool for combating rodent infestations. Not only do they have a great sense of smell, but they also have the instinct and lightning reactions to capture and eat a rat.

I regularly receive a gift from my cat in the form of a half-eaten rodent! I am happy as long as he keeps catching them before they reach the house.

If you have a cat or a dog, keep an eye on them acting unusual. Look out for signs: scratching at sideboards, sniffing through holes in walls, chasing something behind a wall, or simply waiting at the bottom of the attic entrance.

When you notice your pet acting strange, it is time to get up to the attic to investigate further. It might be worth taking the cat up there too!

Extra Holes

Rats can squeeze into holes no bigger than a dime! With that in mind, there are likely to be many holes around your house that are too easy for a rat to escape.

Keep an eye out for newly formed holes in your walls, as it may be a sign that you have rats.

A rat will know your house very well after just a few days of exploring every crevice. They will have ‘rat runs’ memorized to ensure they have an escape plan if caught, and they are also speedy!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can rats in the attic get into the house?

Yes – they absolutely can get into your house! Rats are excellent climbers and can chew through most items in your home. If a rat can smell food in your home, it will do whatever it takes to get there!

Will rats leave if there is no food?

A rat will likely find a food source relatively close to the nest they may have established in your home. While there is a limit to how far a rat will travel away from its nest, it is vast enough to find food. The short answer is that a rat is likely to leave if there is no food, but the chances of there being no food in the local area are low.

Will rats attack humans?

Rats are extremely unlikely to attack humans. I have been in the presence of thousands of rats in my time, and I have not been the victim of a rat attack! They may bite or nibble, though.


These are the 9 most common signs that you have a rat in the attic. While there are plenty more signs, it is one of the above signs that you are likely to notice first.

Unless you are always looking for rats in the attic, the first signs you are likely to notice are the rat droppings and the scurrying noises at night.

When you hear noises in your attic at night it can be very concerning, especially if you have young children. It is very important that you investigate further so you can put a stop to the infestation before it gets out of hand.

Good luck, and try to sleep tight!


About the Rodent Guide

I’m an expert in do-it-yourself rodent control. For more than 20 years, I’ve dedicated my life to helping people live harmoniously alongside these critters by sharing rodent control solutions that are effective and kind.

I believe in treating all creatures with respect. My mission is to ensure everyone understands how to protect their home from rodents without using cruel methods.

2 thoughts on “9 Unmissable Signs You Have Rats In The Attic”

  1. I’m glad you explained that one of the signs of a rat infestation in your home is a musty smell. Last night, I was taking some boxes filled with decorations to my attic when I noticed a really odd smell coming from one of the corners. It seems like it would be a good idea for me to have a pest control agent inspect my attic for more signs of rats.

  2. We’ve been hearing unusual noises from our ceiling recently, and it’s alarming to know that it might be rats since they are nocturnal creatures. I’ll try to check the attic if there are rat droppings or chewed up items to check if there are really rats up there. If there is, I’ll contact a pest control contractor in the city to get rid of them. Thanks!


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