Tips for Spotting and Getting Rid of Roof Rats

There are some people in the United States who have very little to no problem with rodent pests, but there are some areas of the country that are more likely to have rodent problems than other areas. One of these regions is the southeastern one-third of the United States, which also includes the states that are on the coast. If you live in one of these areas, there is a good chance that roof rats will make your attic their home. This can lead to a number of issues for both your family and your property. If you suspect that your home is infested with roof rats, make sure to review the control options listed below.

Watch Out for Rats on the Roof and in the Attic

Roof rats are also referred to as palm rats, fruit rats, ship rats, and Alexandrian rats. They are commonly found in tropical and subtropical regions.

Infestations of homes can be caused by Norway rats, a stockier species of rat, as well as roof rats. It is necessary, for the purposes of effective pest control, that you identify the species of rat that is scurrying around your attic. Roof rats and Norway rats are distinct from one another in a number of ways. Let's take a look at a few of these variations, shall we?


Roof rats are smaller than Norway rats, which are also known as brown rats and sewer rats, and their tails are longer than their bodies. Norway rats are commonly found in sewers. They can reach a maximum length of 45 cm, including their tail, and a minimum weight of at least 5 oz.


Norway rats are typically brown or gray in color, whereas roof rats are almost always black in color. Roof rats are distinct from Norway rats in that their bodies are more svelte and compact, and their fur is silky. Other characteristics of roof rats include pointy faces and large ears with very little hair covering them.

Places to Raise Young

Roof rats, in contrast to most other species of rats, are excellent climbers and construct their nests in treetops rather than underground burrows. Roof rats can be found nesting in the outdoors in places such as trees, shrubs, wood piles, and dense vegetation. Roof rats are typically found indoors and prefer to construct their nests in the upper levels of a structure because of the rising heat. They have been known to nest in a variety of locations inside the house, including the following:

  • Attics
  • Cabinets
  • Ceilings
  • Garages
  • On the drywall and within the walls
  • Laundry rooms
  • Patios
  • Pool areas

Their living space needs to provide them with sufficient water so that they can continue living.


Roof rats have a diet that is comparable to that of squirrels, in contrast to most other species of rats, which typically favor eating scraps of meat and foods that are high in protein. This indicates that nuts and fruits make up the majority of their diet, but roof rats, like other species of rats, are omnivores. If they are hungry enough, they will eat virtually anything, including the following items:

  • Ornamental plants
  • Food for canines and felines
  • Animal feed suitable for cattle, pigs, and chickens
  • Produce grown in one's own garden
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Tree bark
  • Insects
  • Lizards
  • Paper
  • Candle wax

These rats are also known to be hoarders and will store food in their nesting areas for consumption at a later time.

Roof rats can get water from a variety of sources, including:

  • Bird baths
  • Leaky pipes
  • Line for collecting condensation from air conditioning
  • Pets' water bowls
  • Putting saucers under plants in pots
  • Lines for irrigating crops

Additionally, in order to obtain water, roof rats will gnaw their way through plastic and metal pipes, which can result in significant structural damage.

Due to the fact that they are nocturnal and hunt for food during the night, roof rats are not always visible. You must, however, be aware of the telltale signs of an infestation in order to detect their presence in your home. Once located, you will be able to implement the appropriate control measures.

Seeing droppings from roof rats is one of the most obvious signs that there is an infestation. Norway rats leave behind droppings that are larger than those left by roof rats. The droppings are approximately 0.5 inches in length and have pointed ends. A roof rat infestation can also be identified by the following additional signs:

  • Sounds like gnawing or scratching coming from the walls or the attic
  • Signs of chewing can be seen around the home's eaves and roof.
  • Observing them moving quickly across tree branches, power lines, rooftops, patios, and fruit trees
  • If you have fruit trees, you could use hollowed-out fruit.
  • Causing fraying and damage to the insulation of electrical wires in the home
  • Animals that are displaying symptoms of anxiety and tension
  • Greasy footprints and smudges left behind by people as they move about the house in their usual patterns.
  • Nests that have been discovered within the insulation of your home

Once they are inside, the population of roof rats can quickly multiply. A female can give birth to anywhere from five to eight young in one litter. Roof rats breed continuously throughout the year in regions that are warm and tropical, and females can have up to three litters a year.

How do Rafter Rats Gain Entry Into a House?

Roof rats are skilled climbers and build their nests in high places. They travel by climbing tree limbs and can enter your home quite easily if there are spaces in your attic that are narrow enough for them to fit through. Additionally, roof rats can enter your home through a variety of other entry points, such as the following:

  • Climbing plants growing close to the house
  • During your journey along the power lines
  • Climbing up uneven surfaces, like brick and concrete blocks

When they get to your house, all they need is a hole the size of a nickel to crawl through in order to enter. They frequently enter homes in search of sustenance and as a place of safety from potential predators. Roof rats have a lot of natural enemies, including the following:

  • Snakes
  • Animals that eat prey
  • Dogs
  • Cats
  • Coyotes
  • Owls
  • Other rats

Are Roof Rats a Health Hazard?

When they perceive a threat, rats of any species are capable of aggressive behavior. They might bite you or try to catch you. Roof rats have the potential to spread disease to humans through their bites, including rat-bite fever, which can be transmitted to humans through a scratch or bite. Within a few days to a few weeks, people who have rat-bite fever will begin to exhibit symptoms. Sometimes the bite or scratch has already healed by the time symptoms appear; therefore, it is important to be familiar with the following symptoms:

  • Rash
  • Vomiting
  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Aching in the muscles and joints

Be conscious of the fact that some diseases carried by rodents can be fatal to humans if the appropriate treatment is not received.

Their waste and urine are both potential vectors for disease. The Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome has not been linked to roof rats at this time; however, you should still take precautions when cleaning up droppings and urine because it is possible that you have misidentified the rodent problem you are dealing with. Humans become infected with hantavirus when they inhale contaminated air that contains rat saliva, droppings, or urine.

It's also possible to get sick from fleas that have previously fed on rats. It is possible to contract diseases such as plague and tularemia if you are bitten by a flea that has previously bitten a rat.

What Sorts of Problems Do Roof Rats Cause?

In addition to leaving behind droppings and urine that present a health risk, roof rats are also capable of causing structural damage to a home. Rats can get into your attic by chewing holes through the soffit and the eaves of your roof. Once they are inside, they are able to cause many different types of damage by:

  • Chewing on wires, thereby posing a risk of electrical shock and fire
  • Chewing on the wooden beams up in the loft area
  • Causing water damage by chewing on pipes and causing damage to the pipes
  • Reducing the effectiveness of the insulation by trampling it down.

Eliminating Roof Rats from Your Home

If you hear noises and see signs that indicate an infestation of roof rats, you have several options available to get rid of these vermin. Roof rats are a common household pest that can be effectively controlled through the use of traps or other exclusion methods. The most common types of rat traps, such as snap traps and electronic traps, as well as the repellents available to you, each have their own set of advantages and disadvantages.

Baiting Rats

The use of bait is an essential component of setting traps, and if you have the right bait, it won't be difficult to entice the unwanted pests. Other species of rats have dietary preferences that differ from those of roof rats; therefore, you can use any of the following as bait to catch roof rats:

  • Dried fruit (best)
  • Nuts (best)
  • Berries
  • Thread made of dental floss or other material for nesting
  • Insects
  • Peanut butter
  • Conchas de escargots

Rats are typically very wary whenever there is a newly introduced source of food in their environment. To get rats to enter the trap, bait it but don't set it for a few days first. This will teach the rats to regard the trap as a secure and dependable source of food.

Snap Traps

Although using snap traps to catch rats may seem like an outdated method, research shows that they are still very effective. These devices contain a metal bar that, when it comes into contact with a rat, instantly kills it. Because one rat is caught and killed by each trap, you will need to place multiple traps in order to significantly reduce the rat population. There are a few positive aspects associated with the utilization of snap traps:

  • They are thrown away after use.
  • If you so choose, you can reuse them multiple times.
  • You can put them to use both inside and outside.
  • They are safe to consume.
  • The dead rat is in plain sight, allowing you to verify that the kill was successful.

Because of the tremendous force with which they close when activated, you need to exercise extreme caution when setting these traps in homes that also contain children and animals. When getting rid of the dead rat, you also have to be careful and follow certain protocols.

Electronic Traps

Electronic snares are a more contemporary alternative. They are a method for controlling rats that is both humane and non-toxic. The rat is put to death by a high-voltage shock delivered by these traps. These traps are only allowed to be used inside and offer a number of wonderful benefits:

  • It's possible to reuse them.
  • The dead rat is concealed, but can be discarded without difficulty.
  • They have a light that flashes whenever they make a kill.
  • They can be used without fear around children and animals.

Electronic rat traps can be found under the Victor® brand. These traps are simple to bait and set, and removal of the dead animal is uncomplicated, so there will be no mess left behind:

  • Rat Zapper® Ultra zaps rats using 8,000 volts You will be notified of a kill by a flashing red light. The device requires four D-cell batteries, and one set of batteries will allow for approximately sixty successful catches.
  • The Electronic Rat Trap has a lower voltage of 7,000 volts, but it is still extremely lethal. Its power source is comprised of four C-cell batteries. It is equipped with a flashing green light that indicates a kill, and one set of batteries allows it to deliver approximately 50 kills.
  • The Rat Zapper® Classic is powered by four AA-cell batteries, and each set of batteries is good for approximately 20 kills. It operates at 8,000 volts and features an indicator light that flashes green (the previous model with a plug featured an indicator light that was red).

Ultrasonic Tools and Equipment

In order to prevent rodents from entering your home, ultrasonic repellents work by sending out high-frequency sound waves that aren't repetitive and scare them away. The sound is unbearable for rodents, but it does not cause discomfort in humans or in the majority of pets. Pets like dogs, cats, and fish won't be bothered by it, but if you have a hamster or guinea pig, you'll need to move them to another room.

Victor® has several ultrasonic devices available You are free to browse the options and select the one that will work best for you based on the dimensions of the space it will be installed in. Simply plugging in an ultrasonic device is all that is required to put any of them to use, so pick whichever one you like best. No baiting No setting

The Value of Cleanliness and Hygiene

Sanitation practices need to be up to par if you want to prevent roof rats from moving back into your home. The following are some helpful sanitary pointers:

  • Make certain that every container for trash has a lid that can be securely closed.
  • Frequent trash and garbage debris collection is required.
  • Do not give your pet more food in a day than it is capable of eating in a single sitting.
  • Keep the food for your pets and other animals in metal containers with lids.
  • Put dry goods like cereal and other foods in containers that are airtight.

Rats are drawn to buildings and areas that provide both food and water; therefore, it is important to get rid of any and all sources of water, such as fountains, leaky pipes, and bird baths, as well as anything that could provide these rodents with a food source.

Advice Regarding Your Property and Garden

You can prevent roof rats from entering your home by taking preventative measures around the home and in the yard. Begin by closing off all of the entrances to the house, then proceed to:

  • Put caulk into any cracks or crevices around the house that have a depth of 0 millimeters or less. larger than 25 inches
  • Screens should be placed over the roof vents and attic turbine ventilators.
  • Protect your fireplace by installing a cap or screen over the chimney.
  • Look for openings under sinks, near washing machines, dryers, dishwashers, and hot water heaters, and seal them off if you find them.
  • When leaving your home, you should remember to always shut the doors behind you.
  • Check that the condition of all of the window screens is satisfactory.

You can prevent roof rats from entering your home by doing some straightforward landscaping work. For instance, cut back any tree branches or limbs that are within three feet of your roof that are located close to your home. Keep the palm trees trimmed, and remove any vines or shrubs that are growing against or close to the house. Reduce the density of the bushes in the area around your home to deter rats from using them as cover.

Because they prefer to live in elevated areas, roof rats are more likely to infest homes that have attics or other high places. This is because roof rats breed quickly. The following are some additional factors that may entice roof rats to move into your home:

  • Dense cover of shrubbery
  • Palm trees
  • Yucca plants
  • Honeysuckle
  • Wood piles
  • Containers for storage

Today is the day to get rid of the roof rats in your home.

You don't have to put up with rats in your home, even though they can spread disease and cause property damage. Have a look at the various rat control methods that we offer in order to get rid of the roof rats in your home or place of business. You can also sign up to receive the Victor® eNewsletter, which will provide you with links to informative articles like this one in addition to money-saving deals that will assist you in dealing with a rodent infestation.

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