The roof rat, also known as the black rat, is one of the most common rodents to infest our homes. These nocturnal pests prefer warm, coastal climates and will nest overhead in elevated areas in and around your home. Although they usually aren’t aggressive, they do pose a health risk to humans. Their urine and feces contain diseases that can contaminate surfaces and spread to humans (salmonellosis, typhus, and more). They can also carry parasites and are most famous for spreading the bubonic plague during the Middle Ages. They also chew through electrical wires, putting you at risk for fire.
Roof rats are most active at dawn and at dusk, emerging in search of food. They are experts at traveling and nesting at higher elevations, often hiding out in your cabinets, attics, and roofs. They also move along powerlines and can climb brick and stucco.
Common signs of roof rats include:
- Seeing feces along the baseboards
- Hearing noises in walls and attics, especially after dark
- Finding remnants of nests in cabinets, attics, and other elevated areas of your home
- Seeing smudges on surfaces from the oil on their fur
- Finding gnaw marks on wood trim, wires, etc.
- Seeing live or dead rats in or around your home
- Fallen or half eaten fruit from fruit trees
- Odd behavior from your pets, especially towards the ceiling
You can prevent roof rats by eliminating their food, water, and shelter sources. Consider the following tips for rodent control and prevention:
- Cleaning up your yard
- Removing overhanging branches from your roof
- Keeping bushes and trees trimmed
- Cleaning up debris, clutter from your yard
- Elevating firewood and storing it in a sealed box
- Decluttering and cleaning sheds and garages
- Elevating cardboard storage instead of leaving it on the floor or replacing cardboard with plastic
- Picking up fallen fruit
- Taking up pet food and water bowls after feeding
- Closing trashcans
- Eliminating standing water
- Fixing leaks in irrigation systems