Ways to Avoid Vermin Problems in Thatched Roofs

Why are vermin a problem

Vermin problems in thatch - mice

Last Winter we had a lot more calls and emails regarding problems with vermin in thatched roofs.  Some people were aware it was vermin, others thought it was birds and some even thought the signs were of wind damage.  It may have been due to the amount of wet weather we experienced.  The important thing is that you don’t want rats and mice or even squirrels in your thatched roof.  They can do a lot a damage to the thatch and can cause problems, loosening fixings and chewing material.  It may well take some time to get rid of the vermin before the repairs can be carried out.

These rats and mice move into a property with straw on the roof (can be the coatwork or ridge) often in during the Winter.  This is usually because, depending on the way the thatching straw has been prepared, there may be some grains left in the ears of the material.  These are a food source for the vermin.  If they get into the thatched roof, the problem is that it is warm, dry and cosy and they probably get enough moisture up there too!  A perfect habitat.

Vermin problems in thatched roof - mice

Advice to avoid the vermin problems

Ways to avoid vermin in thatch - feed chickens with care

Rat on a bird feeder to be discouraged if you have a thatched property

We decided to give you some help with ways to reduce the risk of vermin getting into your thatched roof and causing problems.

  • Avoid spillage if feeding birds, chickens, rabbits etc.  This will draw them to the area and when the weather turns they may decide to move in to your building which is close to this food source.
  • Take pest control measures before you notice any signs of vermin.  This can be in the form of traps or poison in the loft space.  Hopefully, they will be attracted to that before your thatch.  Many people often use a bait box outside to lure them there first.
  • Make sure that if you are having rethatching works
    • No visitors! arrive with the new thatch
    • There are no visitors! in the roof before it is wired in
    • Many thatchers as standard practice will put bait in the roof space as a precautionary measure which is most helpful.
  • Good wiring of the outside thatched roof is important, and it is a good idea to periodically do a visual check that no holes have appeared through which the critters can get in.
  • Any electrics in roof space are best in metal conduit, which they cannot chew through!

Other Advice on Dealing with Vermin.

Avoiding vermin in thatch - bait box

Bait box

Vermin, mice, rats in Thatch

Check the roof space regularly for signs of rats and mice, if found, deal with promptly.  This may be droppings, damaged roofing material or chewed items.  You may also hear them!  The pitter patter of unwanted guests!  Pest controllers often have great experience in dealing with these things.

Don’t repair any damage until you are certain there is no vermin activity in the roof.  It is a waste of time mending a hole if the rats or their young are still there.  We have had too many people getting in touch saying the roof was repaired and the rats are back.  It is very possible that they were never all gone.  Be patient and make sure they are removed before fixing any damage.


Don’t be paranoid or overly worried about vermin in your roof.  Be informed and understand what the contributory factors to their arrival are and how you can deter/stop them.   Prevention is definitely best.

If you have problems don’t wait, deal with the situation promptly.  Get in touch with a pest controller, your thatcher or give us a call. We are happy to help.

Thatch Advice on avoiding vermin in thatch - rat

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