Roof rats are a type of rat common in the coastal southern region of the United States. They have various other names. Fruit rats. Palm rats. Ship rats. Roof rats have several differences from the Norway rat with is the other common type of rat.
Roof Rat vs Norway Rat
The first main difference between these two rats is their size. Roof rats are smaller than the Norway rat. The length of their tails is greater than the length of their bodies. They can reach about 18 inches in length and weigh five ounces at minimum.
Roof rats also differ from Norway rats in appearance. They are black instead of the gray or brown color of Norway rats. Their bodies are smaller and with smooth fur. They have pointier faces and larger ears. Roof rats are better climbers than Norway rats.
And tend to build nests in high places like trees, wood piles and the tops of houses. They particularly like attics, ceilings, garages, inside walls, pool areas, laundry rooms and cabinets. Roof rats aren’t as fond of meat scraps as Norway rats and instead prefer nuts and fruit. They may also eat pet food, garden vegetables, insects, paper, and candle wax among other things.
Roof Rat Infestation Signs
Roof rats are mostly active at night. Signs of infestation aren’t always immediately obvious. The most obvious sign of infestation is always the presence of rat droppings, which are smaller than Norway rat droppings. Another sign is hearing scratching sounds in the walls or ceiling.
You may also see them running from trees to the top of your house or even on power lines. If you have pets, you may notice them behaving strangely as they attempt to locate the rats. If you have fruit trees, you might notice hollowed out fruit.
As roof rats climb well, it’s easy for them to get on the roof of your house from trees or vines. They also only need a hole the size of a nickel to get inside.
Eliminating Roof Rats
Roof rat populations can grow quickly if not dealt with properly. Trapping and repelling rats is the best way to eliminate them. When baiting rat traps, it’s important to use bait that they like. Also leave the traps unset for a few days so that the rats will trust the new food source.
Some food options for baiting traps include nuts, dried fruit, berries, nesting material, peanut butter and insects. Trap types to use include snap traps, electric traps and glue traps. Snap traps are very effective, but can be risky if you have children or pets.
Electric traps shock the rat to kill them and the rat body will be hidden inside the trap. This makes it safer to use around kids and pets. To repel roof rats, you can use ultrasonic devices that emit a noise only heard by rodents. If you have any pet rodents, you will need to move them to a different part of the house.