Roof Rats

Roof Rats

Do you normally hear scurrying in your walls? Maybe you’ve gone up to the attic and found a nest of rats, opened up your pantry and found droppings, or found the fruit on your trees hollowed out. You could be dealing with roof rats.

What are Roof Rats?

Scientifically known as Rattus rattus, roof rats range from dark brown to black in color. They are 13 to 18 inches long, including the tail. Also known as fruit rats, palm rats, ship rats, or Alexandrian rats, these pests weigh 5-9 ounces.

Roof rats are generally slender, with large and virtually hairless ears. Outdoors, roof rats nest in trees, debris, woodpiles, as well as in dense vegetation. Indoors, they love to nest in the upper areas of a building, especially in the ceiling and attic.

Roof rats are nocturnal animals. They normally only come out at night. They love fruits. However, they can consume anything, including nuts, pet food, meat, seeds, tree bark, lizards, insects, vegetable in the garden, and even your own pantry items.

These rats can reproduce once or twice a month, with each litter comprising about eight pups. Problems associated with them are numerous, and some can be dangerous to human life. For instance, their burrows can lead to structural damage by undermining the foundations of buildings and roads.

They can cause damage by gnawing, destroying plastic pipes, electric wires, upholstery, and even door frames. These rats can also destroy and contaminate stored foods.

How To Identify Roof Rats Infestation

It is difficult to see roof rats as they usually only appear at night. Nonetheless, there are several signs of infestation, which normally indicate their presence. Roof rats droppings are one of the clearest signs of infestation. The droppings are roughly 0.5 inches long with pointed ends.

Other roof rat infestation signs include:

  1. Gnawing marks on the roof or eaves of your home

  2. Scratching noises in the walls or attic

  3. Hollowed-out fruit on your fruit trees

  4. Dogs and cats exhibiting signs of stress and agitation

  5. Gnawing damage to electrical cables

  6. Presence of nests in your home’s insulation

  7. Grease trails as they travel regular routes around the home

In addition to these signs, you can also spot roof rats running on power lines, patios, roofs, as well as in fruit trees.

Diseases Associated With Roof Rats

Roof rats can transmit various diseases through bites, scratches, physical contact, or by food contamination. Rat-bite fever is one of the most common diseases you can get from a roof rat bite or scratch. The symptoms of this disease normally occur within a few days to a couple of weeks, and they include:

  1. Vomiting

  2. Fever

  3. Rash

  4. Headaches

  5. Joint and muscle pain

The urine and droppings of rats carry disease as well. Some of the diseases transmitted by roof rats can be fatal to humans if not treated well.

How To Control Roof Rats Infestation

There are several ways to deal with roof rats infestation, but the three most effective ways are sanitation, exclusion, and population reduction.


Roof rats normally thrive in a place where food and water are readily available. So, to get rid of roof rats from your home, consider implementing these sanitation measures:

Eliminate clutter that the pests can use to create their nests, such as waste paper and cardboard pieces.
Store food items in large metal containers with tight-fitting lids. The rats can easily gnaw through boxes and bags.
Get rid of unnecessary vegetation around your house, such as grass and weeds.
Store pet food away from the roof rats’ reach.


Exclusion simply means sealing cracks and crevices around your home through which the rats can enter. Use stucco diamond mesh to seal vents and holes. The holes are normally found in exterior walls, as well as near water heaters, dryers, washers, and under sinks.

Also, screen the sewer stacks on the roof and caulk cracks. Use steel wool or copper mesh to stuff air-conditioning lines, which run from outside into the attic. This will prevent the pests from entering.

Population Reduction

Sanitation and exclusion will help you to prevent roof rats infestation. However, you also need to eliminate the roof rats that are already present in your home. You can do that through trapping and baiting.

With trapping, you don’t need to use harmful poisons. You’ll be able to know whether the pest was killed, and it eliminates odor issues by allowing you to dispose of the dead rat. When it comes to baiting, you need to use poisons to attract and kill the rats.

While trapping is great for indoor control, baiting works well when you are dealing with outdoor roof rat populations. The rats will sniff out the bait, come to feed on it continuously until they die from the poison.

Bottom Line On Rats

Roof rats infestations pose health risks and also compromises your home structure. This article provides essential information on roof rats, including how to identify and control their infestation in your home.