Tips For Effectively Eliminating Rats in Crawlspace(s)

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.

Do you know you can win that fight against rats and permanently send them out of your crawl space?

I am sure you know how destructive rats can be in the house. Besides gnawing through electrical wiring and littering everywhere with their feces, rats can also endanger your health and your pets’.

Now, getting these terrible rodents to leave your house is a daunting task. It may even sometimes be frustrating. 

However, in this article, you will find out how rats enter your crawl space, common signs of rat infestations, how to get rid of rats in your crawl space, and how to keep rats (or any other rodent) out of your crawl space – forever! 

But first, let’s discuss the association of rats with crawl spaces.

Tips For Effectively Eliminating Rats in Crawlspace

Why do rats like crawl spaces?

man checking crawl space

You may have wondered, “why do rats love dwelling in crawl spaces?” Well, the reasons are not far-fetched. Here are some reasons rats tend to infest crawl spaces;


Generally, rats love living/nesting in crawl spaces because it promises warmth and dampness and protects them from excess cold or heat.

So, rats find crawl spaces the best place to protect them whenever there is extreme heat or cold.

Proximity to food supply

Crawl spaces are typically located near rodents’ food sources (e.g., trash bins). And since rats have a fast metabolism, they feed a lot and need a stable food source. 

Occasionally, some house owners even keep actual food items in crawl spaces, encouraging rats to reside in their crawl space. 

Numerous entry points

rat in crawl space

Crawl spaces offer plenty of entry points for rats and other pests. So, rats find it easier to invade your house from the crawl space than outside. 

The gaps between the foundation & framing, penetrations for wires, pipes, and vents are easily accessible to rats from the crawl space. 

Also, if your crawl space has a dirt floor, it supports pest life very well because it allows them to create tunnels in the dirt floor, which they use to move into and out of your house. 

Little or no disturbance

Since the crawl space is not a place you visit often, the rats will grow without disturbance whenever they take residence in your crawl space.

It may take a while before you notice a rat infestation in the crawl space. Lastly, crawl spaces protect rats from predators. 

How do I know there are rats in your crawlspace?

looking for rats in crawlspace

To know if you have a rat infestation problem in your crawlspace, look out for these signs;

Scratching sounds

If you hear scratching/ squeaking inside the walls or from your ceiling, it is probably a rat trying to find its way around your house. 

Also, you can hear scurrying sounds whenever the rats are running across your ceiling. You have a better chance of picking up this sound at night when rats are more active (nocturnal animals) and everywhere is relatively quiet.

Foul smell

Rat urine smell is very unpleasant. It smells very much like ammonia. And except you have pets that are urinating all over your house – which is not so good anyway, an ammonia-like urea smell may indicate a rat infestation. 

Tunneling signs 

Rats are notorious for burrowing holes anywhere they can. So, if you find any sign of tunneling (especially if your crawl space has a dirt floor), it may be a sign that you have a rat infestation.

Dirt piles/ rat droppings

Finding rat droppings in your crawl space is a sign that rats have been living or building a nest in your crawl space. In case you don’t know what rats’ droppings look like, it looks like rice grain, but it is much bigger than rice (7 – 14 mm). 


Since rats gnaw at almost anything, you should not be surprised to find chewed holes in foundations or plumbing pipes in your crawl space. 

One last and unmistakable sign of rat infestation in your crawl space is seeing rats. However, you should still be worried even if you can find a handful of rats because two rats can multiply to hundreds in a matter of months! (Due to their fast sexual maturity and quick breeding rate).

How do rats get into your crawl space?

rat in crawl space

If you want to get rid of rats in your crawl space, it is expedient that you know how they got into the crawl space in the first place. 

Now, you may already be imagining how rats enter your crawl space. Well, rats get into your crawl space through any of the following means;

Ground-level/crawl space vents

Not all houses have a crawl space vent. It is a vent outside your home, very close to the ground. 

So, if your house has a crawl space vent, rats can enter your crawl space through those vents. 

Other entry points

Other openings through which rats enter your crawl space include loose bricks, damaged basement windows or foundation cracks, gaps around doors & windows, sewer pipes, water lines, and electrical conduits. 

You must note that even if your vents are small, rats can still squeeze themselves into the smallest openings.

Steps to get rid of rats in your crawlspace

Now for the part where you bid good riddance to these nefarious pests. Here are steps you can follow to remove rats from your crawl space;

Firstly, you can place snap traps in the crawl space to trap and kill these pests. However, if you want less grotesque means, you should use glue traps or live traps.

Bait the glue traps and place them in dark corners of your crawl space and once the glue traps catch the rats, ensure you dispose of them properly.

Using a moderate bait size is best for effectiveness when using live traps. 

If you choose to release the rats, do so in a place far away from your home, or you can contact professional exterminators to get rid of the pests.

Lastly, if your pest problems persist, you can use rat poisons to kill the rats off. But, you should only use poison as a last resort because it is unsafe and should be used cautiously. 

How to make your crawl space unlivable for rats and other rodents/pests

To prevent future rodent/rat infestation, you must make the crawl space uncomfortable for them. Follow these steps to frustrate and ultimately end pest life in your crawl space;

Remove water/food supply 

Rats need food and water for survival. Therefore, you can win this fight against rats if you can make finding food & water difficult for them.

This is because rats leave on their own once they can’t find food and water. What’s more? They won’t be returning anytime soon if you keep it that way. 

Seal up every entry points

You should repair all damaged pipelines, cracked foundation walls, and other rat entry points so they won’t be able to enter the next time. 

You can install door sweeps for gaps below doors to ensure no pest is using the gap as an entrance into most crawl spaces.

Natural rat repellents

peppermint oil (3)

You can also use rat repellents to deter rats from abiding in your home’s crawl space. Here are some natural rat repellents: peppermint oil, black pepper, mothballs, and onions.

Finally, you can install steel mesh barriers to keep the rats out of the crawl space.

Install a crawl space vapor barrier

Installing vapor barriers helps to keep the crawl space dry as it can prevent or control moisture buildup in the crawl space air. 

These vapor barriers repel rats and keep them from entering your crawl space. Also, you can contact a professional for a properly installed crawl space encapsulation.


Now that you have every information you need to keep rats at bay successfully, it is time to put them into practice.

Ensure your crawl space is clean always to prevent them from returning as soon as you get them out.

And when you know the rats have gone, you have won the war!

Good luck!


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.

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