All About Rodents: The Roof Rat

roof ratThe roof rat, Rattus rattus, is also known as a black rat, ship rat, and house rat. They are some of the most troublesome pests because they eat and contaminate food, damage infrastructure, and transmit parasites to humans and other animals. Roof rats live and thrive in a variety of conditions and climates. They can be found in homes and buildings, on farms, in gardens, and in open fields. On early sailing ships, roof rats were common enough that they were able to spread all over the world.

Identifying a Roof Rat

A typical adult roof rat is five to eight inches long, including a three to four inch long tail. It is usually black in color, but it can also be light brown with a lighter underside. The roof rat has a pointed nose and large ears. It can sometimes be confused with a house mouse, but their size is quite different: a house mouse is three to four inches long including a tail, and the roof rat has a much longer hairless tail, longer than its body and head combined. People also mistake roof rats for Norway rats since they look quite alike. It is important to know that the Norway rat is larger and more slender, while its fur is usually rougher than the fur of the roof rat, which is more smooth.

The Roof Rat Diet and Behavior

The roof rat is categorized as an omnivore since it eats a wide range of foods, including fruits, seeds, fungi, and leaves, as well as a variety of insects. Basically, it will consume anything, even tree bark, meat, and grain. It is also known for stashing food supplies. A roof rat will nest inside and under buildings, as well as in piles of wood or rubbish. Since the roof rat is an excellent climber, it can often be found in the upper parts of structures, but this highly adaptable rodent can live in a wide variety of environments.

Roof Rat Reproduction

An adult female can breed year-round and may be responsible for up to 40 new young rats. A roof rat becomes sexually mature during the period between two and five months of age. It can produce four to six litters per year, with six to eight young each. It usually lives up to one year.

Signs of a Roof Rat Infestation

If you see live or dead rats in your home, that is a good indication of a rat infestation. They are often seen exposed when their hiding spaces get packed with other rats, which is a sign that things are becoming serious. Rat droppings are also a good indicator of roof rat activity. Unlike Norway rat droppings, which are ¼ to ½ inch in length and rounded, roof rat droppings are about ½ an inch long with pointed ends. A good indicator is also grease marks, which they produce while traveling along the baseboards and walls because of oils in their fur.

Roof Rat Control and Prevention

The first thing to do when you notice a rat inside or outside your home the important first step is to try to identify the species. If you already know that you have a problem with a roof rat, it is best to call a pest control professional since these animals can transmit all kinds of parasites and diseases and it is quite dangerous to attempt to deal with them on your own.

Proudly serving the greater Chicagoland area in Illinois and southeast Wisconsin, the professional exterminators at Aerex Pest Control understand the habits of different rats and use that knowledge when developing a rat control program that is best suited to your home and your particular problem. Our technicians are professional, state certified, licensed applicators. Call today for your free consultation 847-255-8888 or click here for a free quick quote.

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