No Sleep for Rodents in Seattle: The Word on Rodent Abatement

In 2018, an estimated USD4.8 billion of investment was funneled into active construction projects in Seattle and at the start of this year 66 building projects were underway. One unintended side effect of this is that building owners, property managers and construction general contractors must now deal with a surge in rodent activity and populations.

From the recently completed Alaskan Way Viaduct project to construction of multiple high-rise condominium, apartment and office towers, all contribute to the disruption of below and above ground rodent burrows and nesting locations, and sends them in search of new locations for shelter and food. 

How bad is the problem? Sprague service specialists have seen evidence of rodents 40 stories up as these crafty creatures – mainly roof rats – ride on the top of elevators or climb wiring and pipes in search of their next meal or nesting location. 

The surging construction market includes both new builds and the renovation of older structures. In addition to the noise and general disruption a demolition and construction site brings with it, is the constant battle to keep rodents in check.

To help curb the rodent threat, the City of Seattle mandates that a rodent abatement program, delivered by a certified pest management professional, be carried out starting 15 days before the demolition is schedule to begin. (See sidebar story)

Construction sites are rodent friendly environments. There are pallets, tarps and equipment where rodents can set up living quarters and food waste from worker’s lunches in unsealed garbage cans provides rodents with an easily-accessible food source.

And it is not only the construction site itself that is threatened by rodents. Adjacent properties are at risk when dislodged rodents look to gain access. Property managers and building owners adjacent to construction projects need to consider adding a rodent exclusion program to protect their property.

Recently a structure in downtown Seattle was undergoing an extensive renovation project. The new construction next door resulted in roof rats being dislodged and invading their newly renovated space. The infestation was severe enough that the construction team had video of rats actively roaming around inside.

Sprague recommends property managers and building owners stay aware of demolition and construction projects in their neighborhood and take a proactive approach. This includes having the aforementioned exclusion program, staying on top of sanitation practices (i.e. disposing of garbage) and selecting exterior plants that do not attract or create rodent harborage locations.

Seattle’s policy of placing garbage in bags for pick up does make the sanitation piece of the puzzle challenging but Sprague can offer suggestions on how to overcome it.

Rodent Abatement Specifics

Since January 2017 when the updated Seattle Building Code went into effect, any demolition project in the city must complete a rat abatement program as a condition to getting a demolition permit. If you are using the 2015 Building Code for your demolition project, you’ll need to follow the rat abatement process.

What are the specific requirements for rat abatement in Seattle? If your project applies the following requirements apply:

  • Rat abatement must begin at least 15 days before first ground inspection and the start of demolition or the start of any clearing and grading activity.

  • Rat abatement must continue until the start of demolition.
  • My project must pass the first ground disturbance inspection before the start demolition or clearing and grading on my site.
  • I must give the site inspector a fully executed Rat Abatement Certification (RAC) signed by a licensed pest management professional at the first ground disturbance inspection.
  • In addition to the RAC, bait stations or other evidence of an ongoing rat abatement program should be easily visible at the first ground inspection.
  • Site inspectors cannot waive the rat abatement requirement.

While rare, if there are no rats on the property, the city can waive the rat abatement program. They will only waive this requirement with a written recommendation from a licensed pest management professional like Sprague.

The abatement efforts must continue until there are no signs of rodents on the property. The dates and type and location of the treatment must be certified as part of the process.

The rat abatement declaration form can be found at

Rodents: Rats & Mice