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What are Roof Rats?

2011 February 25

What Are Roof Rats and How To Deal With an Infestation

Roof Rat Control

A common roof rat

Roof rats are a species of rodent that cause severe damage to homes and transmit diseases and harmful parasites to people and animals. This is the rodent responsible for spreading the plague during the Middle Ages.  Homeowners discovering evidence of one roof rat are often surprised at how many have actually invaded their home.

Although this species is also known as black rats, they are more dark brown in color than black. These rodents have a gray or white belly and are 13” to 18” long from head to tail. They are different from other rats in that their tail is longer than their body. Weighing less than a pound, roof rats prefer warmer climates in states such as Arizona, Virginia, Texas, Florida, Arkansas, Washington, Oregon, and California. It is important to take preventative measures even when one rat is seen since they populate very quickly by having four to to six litters per year of four to eight pups in each litter.

Since these rodents need only a small hole to enter and exit, they prefer to live in storage boxes, attics, ceilings, and garages. Outdoor habitats include wood piles, shrubs, plants, and certain trees especially citrus trees. Although their main food is seeds, nuts, fruits, vegetables, and grain, they have been known to eat meat.

Tips to keep these rodents out of the home include repairing any holes in window and door screens and sealing any holes or cracks in the attic. Fixing any leaky faucets prevents standing water which becomes a watering hole for roof rats. Trimming trees and bushes to keep them clear of the home will help prevent infestation. It is also important to keep lids tight on garbage cans and make sure no trash is lying around the yard. Leaving pet food and water outside at night also invites these nocturnal animals. Firewood should be stored above ground so these pests cannot climb in and nest within the wood pile.

Homeowners may try various methods to decrease the roof rat population in and around their home. It can be confusing to know which traps and bait to use, where to set them, and what to do with any rodents caught. Professional pest control companies or extermination services quickly and efficiently take care of any roof rat infestation. These experts determine and implement the best strategy needed for every level of infestation to the homeowner’s complete satisfaction.

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