Have you got a rat problem and don’t want to deal with it yourself? If so then you are going to need to hire a rat exterminator.
Sometimes it is better to call a professional than tackle a project like this yourself. Exterminators often will have access to different types of rat poison, fumigants and cleaning supplies that are unavailable to retail consumers.
You should do a little research before hiring someone though and this is a step people often skip because they are already upset about having a rat problem. This article covers how to select a rat exterminator, how much they cost and what type of service you should expect.
How Much Does a Rat Exterminator Cost?
The major cost associated with professional rodent removal is the labor from the field technicians. Depending upon where in the country you live this labor is billed at between $20 and $60 per hour. Dealing with a small infestation will typically take about 15 hours of labor resulting in a final cost between $300 and $900.
Let’s look at a typical homeowner situation, attic rat removal, to see what labor is involved that drives these costs.
Rats in the Attic Removal Cost
To get rid of attic rats the first thing that will need to happen is an on site inspection that will require the exterminator to crawl around your attic. They will need to estimate the size of the problem and identify how the roof rats are getting into your home. This process may require them to access your roof. The entire inspection can take about an hour to perform.
Next, the exterminator will set out about a dozen traps. Determining where to place the traps and then setting them will take about another hour. A good exterminator will use brand new traps and dispose of them when they are done at your house. Rats carry many diseases and it is a bad idea to reuse rat traps from one location to another. The costs of the traps in minimal ($20-$50) and will be included in the final bill.
The exterminator will leave and come back in two or three days to check the traps. They will remove the dead roof rats and set more traps. This process will be repeated two or three more times until no more rats are caught in the traps.
In addition to setting traps the exterminator should be identifying how the rats are getting into your home and performing minor repairs to fix any holes or gaps in the structure.
The field technician will typically spend about 15 hours (including travel) performing the initial assessment, killing the rats over multiple trips and performing repairs.
When you multiply the total hours by the hourly labor rate in your area you end up will a price between $300 and $900 for getting rid of attic rats.
Rodent Control Costs
There are many cases where it is impossible to completely get rid of the rats and you will need to establish a rodent control program. These will be things like dairy or horse farms that have grain storage operations, orchards, shipping terminals, etc.
Basically any place where there is abundant food that is also exposed to the open outdoors will ALWAYS attract rats and other rodents. In these cases an exterminator will implement a control program that involves trapping, poisons and, in the case of burrowing rats, fumigation with smoke bomb poisons or dry ice.
The cost of rodent control will also be more expensive than extermination as it is an ongoing service that requires monthly maintenance. In addition, the area that needs to be managed is much larger than a homeowner’s attic so the cost of the traps, bait stations and poisons are multiplied accordingly.
How to Select a Rat Exterminator
Pest control companies LOVE to put homeowners onto monthly or quarterly service contracts. For a service like termite prevention a service contract makes a lot of sense. For something like attic rat removal an ongoing service contract is a complete rip off.
A service contract does make sense if you have a farm or commercial operation where complete rodent removal will never be possible.
Most pest control companies make the bulk of their money dealing with insects such as termites and ants. Rats and insects have nothing in common.
Killing smart rodents and keeping new ones from moving in requires a completely different skill set than spraying chemicals for ants.
Ideally you want to work with a Certified Wildlife Removal Specialist to get rid of your rats. A Certified Wildlife Removal Expert will understand the need to perform repairs and eliminate attractants in addition to killing the rats.
Not all pest control companies employee Certified Wildlife Removal Specialists and there may not be one in your area. In this case here are a few questions you should ask a pest control company before they come to your house.
- Will I be working with a certified wildlife removal specialist? Ideally you will be but such a person might not be available in your area.
- How much do you charge for an inspection and assessment? The inspection should cost $100 or less.
- How many visits does it typically take to complete the job? It should take a minimum of four visits. This is not a single visit service.
- Do you require an ongoing service contract? If they do then hang up the phone.
- Do you perform exclusion repairs? You should expect them to make minor repairs.
Additional Expenses You Might Incur
There are additional costs associated with a rat infestation that are not directly associated with extermination fees. This is particularly true if you are dealing with rats in your attic.
Costs for Tree Trimming
If you are fighting attic rats then in all likelihood you will need to trim the trees around your house. Rats typically access your attic by jumping onto your roof from overhanging tree branches.
Preventing new roof rats from getting into your attic is critical otherwise you are going to have to hire an exterminator again in a few months when a new batch of rats move in. Ideally you will want to have all branches trimmed to at least five feet away from your roof.
You will want to hire a professional for this job and you should budget about $500.
Costs for Exclusion
While you should expect the field technician to perform some exclusion activities like sealing up access holes there might be more significant structural repair work that is beyond their scope.
The field technician should be able to show you all of the structural issues that made it possible for the rats to get into your home. Some of the issues you might be able to take on if you are handy with tools but others might require the services of a home repair handyman.
Costs for Cleaning
Depending upon the size and duration of the rodent infestation you might have a significant cleaning bill on your hands.
Rats are constantly peeing and pooping along their travels and will fill an attic with nasty black stools and foul smelling urine.
If the problem is small then you can handle this yourself with a Shop-Vac, spray bleach and the proper personal protective equipment (hepa filter mask, nitrile gloves). If the problem is large you might need to hire a restoration outfit to bag and dispose of the contaminated insulation and install new insulation in its place.
These costs will vary considerably based on the size of the cleaning problem and your area of the country. Some exterminators will offer clean up services which are typically cheaper than hiring a different company since the technician is already on site.
How Much Does it Cost To Get Rid of Rats
To hire professionals to get rid of rats you need to factor the cost of:
- Tree Trimming
- Home Repairs
When all of these costs are rolled up it can easily cost around $1,000 to get rid of rats in your attic.
If you want to tackle the problem yourself then you will need to spend about $50 for traps and about $200 on home repair and cleaning supplies for a cost of about $250.