Roof Rat: Facts, Identification & Control

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Roof Rat: Facts, Identification & Control

Appearance

Black or brown, seven to 10 inches long, with a long tail, large ears and eyes, and a pointed nose. Body is smaller and sleeker than Norway rat. Fur is smooth.

Habit

Nests inside and under buildings, or in piles of rubbish or wood. Excellent climber that can often be found in the upper parts of structures.

Diet

Omnivorous, but shows a preference for grains, fruits, nuts and vegetables.

Reproduction

Becomes sexually mature at four months, producing four to six litters per year that consist of four to eight young each. Lives up to one year.

Other Facts

Black rats have long been named as the cause of the Black Death of the Middle Ages. While this plague is no longer as serious a threat to humans, roof rats are still carriers of disease. They may transfer diseases to both human and domestic animals.

The first step in controlling a roof rat infestation is to properly identify the rodents. Roof rats have hairless, scaly tails that are longer than their head and bodies. These rats are nocturnal and are excellent climbers. They leave oily marks on walls and dwell most commonly in attics or ceilings of buildings.

Roof rats are prodigious breeders. Females are capable of producing up to eight pups per litter and can breed year-round. Within a year, one female may be responsible for up to 40 new rodents.

To prevent a colony from nesting in your home, make sure that all the windows and vents are screened. Roof rats can also enter openings in walls, eaves and roof from the branches of trees. Trim all tree branches to further prevent entry.