Roof Rat

Roof rats arrived in North America with the Jamestown colonists in 1607. It’s also known as the black rat or ship rat.

 

Identification

  • Roof rats are usually dark colored

  • Weigh less than 1 pound

  • Large ears

  • Tail is longer than the head and body

  • Spindle shaped droppings

Environment

  • 90% of their time is spent above ground, hence their name

  • Roof rats form nests in trees and high points, run on power lines or the tops of fences, or live in attics

  • Nocturnal, which is why you may hear them scurrying in your attic in the middle of the night

  • Tend to stick to familiar territory; they are not explorers, they find an area that suits their shelter and food needs and usually don’t venture more than a few hundred feet from there

Threats

  • Roof rats rarely live for more than a year in the wild

  • During that year, a single adult female can produce more than 40 baby rats

  • Rarely die naturally but when they do it’s often in a safe place, like your attic, which will create an unpleasant odor

  • Most will be killed by predators

  • Commonly small because they breed in such high numbers, which makes so many of them young

Treatment

  • When trapping roof rats, it is not uncommon to get a few large ones and a number of small ones, indicating a possible family of roof rats

  • Traps may need to be prebaited in order to capture shy individuals

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