Roof Rat Facts
- Roof Rats are 10 to 15 inches in length
- Roof Rats can be either black, brown or gray in color
- Also known as the ship rat or black rat; Roof Rats are usually found in coastal areas
- Adult Roof Rats can weigh between 5-10 ounces and spread diseases through their urine and droppings
What Are Roof Rats?
Roof rats typically weigh 5 to 10 ounces. They have light black to grey smooth fur on their bodies with off white to grey underbellies. They are usually about 15 inches long, and have a long hairless tail that can be about 14-1/2 inches long. Unlike Norway rats, their tails are longer than their heads and bodies combined. They have large ears and eyes (typically larger than those of the Norway rat) and have a pointed nose.
As their name indicates, roof rats usually nest high above ground in trees, tall overgrown shrubs, or dense vegetation such as ivy. Roof rats are excellent climbers and often access homes by running along tree branches, cables or wires. In buildings, they typically nest in the upper part of structures in enclosed or elevated spaces such as attics, walls, false ceilings, and cabinets. They are very agile and can squeeze through openings only 1/2-inch wide. Roof rats can climb down to a food source.
Roof rats routinely travel up to 300 feet for food. They often can be seen at night running along overhead utility lines or fence tops. They have an excellent sense of balance and use their long tails to steady themselves while traveling along overhead utility lines. They move faster than Norway rats and are very agile climbers, which enables them to quickly escape predators.
Given their history of causing damage (gnawing through wiring, food contamination, etc.) and health problems (vectors for salmonella, murine typhus, etc.), it is important that homeowners understand how to identify and businesses protect themselves from these costly pests.
- About 15 inches long
- 5-10 oz.
- Appear sleek and graceful with a gray to black smooth coat
- Large ears/eyes, pointed snout
- Long, hairless tail (about length of body)
- Specializes in climbing
- Can enter structures through trees, power lines
- Dwells in areas off the ground like attics, wall voids, hollow trees, vine-covered fences
- Has a preference for the sweetness of fruit
- However, will feed on anything, including pet food
- Needs water everyday
- Seal openings greater than ¼” to exclude mice and ½” to exclude rats
- Use hardware cloth to seal open vents, especially in crawl spaces, attics, and roofs
- Eliminate waste piles outside of home
- Make sure garbage containers are sealed tightly
- Eliminate potential food sources like left over pet food and grains from bird feeders
- Trim vegetation to prevent from becoming overly dense