Identify Roof Rats, Remove Them & Prevent Their Return

A roof rat will spend 90 percent of their life, at least four feet from the ground. They prefer to stay where they feel more protected and safe. They may choose to nest in your attic or in the ceiling area. They also choose outside the home on the roof, trees, bushes, woodpiles and amongst various types of debris that is undisturbed for a long period of time. Roof rats reach 18 inches long and are lightweight. They are slender in size and have large round ears. They are dark brown to black in color and There are some signs to look for to determine if you have roof rats.

Roof rat droppings and nesting

Look for rat droppings that are cylindrical shaped and elongated. There could be a trail of droppings where the roof rat went or in a pile near the nesting area. Search for damage done to various areas of your home including plastic covering to electrical wiring, gnawed wood and trees, door frames that are chewed, lead pipes punctured and upholstery and boxes chewed on.

Facts about roof rats

Roof rats can jump up to two feet high and four feet horizontally. They are most noticed between the months of November to May as they are the coolest months of the year. Take notice if your fruit trees have hollowed fruits or are chewed on as fruit is one of the roof rats favorites meals to eat. They also prefer nuts, seeds, tree bark, vegetables and all sorts of plant material.

Why get rid of roof rats?

It is necessary to get rid of roof rats as they carry diseases that could infect you, your family and your pet. With a simple bite the rat can pass on a disease and even through fleas that have bitten a rat and then the flea bites someone else they could pass on a disease. When they grow in population their urine and feces will also cause a horrible odor and can make living conditions unsanitary.

Some predators of the roof rat are coyotes, owls, snakes and cats. Without these animals to help get rid of the rats then you may see more rats running around the neighborhood. They can be visible on telephone lines, roofs, and in trees and bushes. They particularly prefer to come out at night and remain about 300 feet from where they nest.

Ways of removing the roof rats

If you have a problem with rats in your home then you will need to figure out where they came in from. They can enter from an opening of less than 1/2 inch in size. Other areas include ill fitting door frames and windows, vents that are not often used.

One way to help keep the rats out is by sealing up small cracks and holes on the outside of your home with caulking and mesh coverings. Make sure that drains, door frames and windows are fit tightly, and trim the trees and bushes while keeping your lawn mowed.

Other steps to take is to remove any debris that is leaning up against your home or providing areas for the rats to hide. Keep any food sealed tight or in the refrigerator. Dog or cat food needs to be placed in a sealed container and feed them at certain times. Providing no food source for the rats will make them want to leave.

You can use live traps or rat traps that will automatically kill the animal. You do not want to use baiting if you have pets as this poison can also kill them if ingested by your pet. By trapping it will reduce the odor and and prevent them from wandering off and dying somewhere else where they could spread their diseases even when dead.

One of the best ways to control the rat population is to have an outside cat who is up to date on their shots. They can handle the roof rats rather easily and even scare them off. Do not use traps or baits if you choose to use this method as this can also harm the cat.

For a severe problem indoors call a professional to help eradicate the rats. They can reduce the number of the rats that are in your home by using other methods that are not recommended for individuals to take care themselves.

The gestation period for each female roof rat is 21 days and after three weeks a baby rat is weaned, out on his own. Each female can reproduce by three months old and can give birth to a maximum of seven at a time. If you don’t handle the problem before it gets out of hand you will have a massive infestation before they go into hiding during the warmer months.

  • Recognize damage with gnawing and chewing on areas around the home.
  • Fruit tree damage
  • Visible rats
  • Take steps in controlling the rats
  • Get an outdoor cat or two to help maintain the rat problem.
  • Use traps to kill those that may be living in the attic.
  • Call upon a professional to help remove the surviving rats.


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I enjoy learning about new pest control strategies and attempt to share everything I learn at to create a reliable resource for people dealing with all sorts of pest issues.

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