What are Roof Rats?

In the Phoenix and Tucson area, we have many rodents that most people are familiar with; however, the roof rat is one that we often don’t think about, but is a common problem Arizona homeowners may face. Rats carry disease and can cause serious damage to homes, buildings, and other structures. We are going to review in further detail what roof rats are, so you can understand why they are considered an unwanted rodent, watch for signs of them, and protect your home and family from these invasive critters.  

What are Roof Rats?

Roof rats, also known as black rats, are smaller than some other rats, such as the Norway rat. The black rat is black to light brown in color with a lighter underside. These rodents have long tails, large ears and eyes, and pointed noses. They have smooth fur with hairless, scaly tails that are longer than their heads and bodies. Roof rats can grow to about 18 inches long, but on average are around 16 inches or smaller (including the tail).

These rats get their name from their tendency to take shelter in upper areas of homes and buildings (near the roof). They like the heat that they can find in higher locations. They commonly take up residence in attics, cabinets, garages, ceilings, inside walls, and more.

Once inside, these rodents can cause a lot of damage because they will eat and feed on just about anything. They will enjoy a feast on plants, pet food, vegetables, nuts, tree bark, insects, paper, meats, plastic, metal, and more. We weren’t kidding, they will eat whatever they find. Not to mention, they are highly adaptable and will also make their nest out of whatever they can get to. As you can imagine, this can cause a lot of destruction to your home and belongings.  

Like most rodents, roof rats have the ability to produce many offspring in a small window, making even a small infestation, a large one, in a short amount of time.

How do Roof Rats get into Homes?

Like other Arizona pests and rodents, if roof rats want to get inside your home, they will find a way. These rodents are good climbers and can use tree limbs, power lines, vines, and other things close to your home to get into your attic and other areas. If there is a space, even one extremely small, they will squeeze through. All they need is an opening about the size of a nickel to get inside.

These critters will make their way inside if they are seeking, food, water, and shelter, and also to hide from predators (snakes, birds, dogs, etc.).

Are Roof Rats Dangerous?

These rodents can create health risks for you and your family. Roof rats are most popularly known for spreading the bubonic plague. According to the CDC, rodents are known to spread more than 25 diseases. These diseases can be spread to humans directly through handling of live or deceased rodents, contact with rodent feces, urine, or saliva, as well as rodent bites. They can also be spread indirectly through other pests that have fed on an infected rodent. Roof rats are no exception.

Along with leaving droppings and urine that create a health hazard, roof rats can also cause damage to your home. They may chew through your home’s siding to get inside, and once they have succeeded, they won’t stop there. They will chew on wires (causing a fire risk), gnaw on wooden beams, munch through plumbing, and can also eat through drywall and insulation.

What Are Some Signs my Home May Have Roof Rats?

These rodents are nocturnal and are up and about mostly during the night, so if you have an infestation, you may not actually see them. Keep your eyes peeled for rat droppings, which are about 0.5 inches long with pointed ends, listen for gnawing or scratching above you, watch for chew marks and unexplained damage to wiring, and pay attention to if you come across a nest or see these critters near your home. All of those things can be signs that you potentially have one or more of these invaders.

How can I Protect my Home from Roof Rats?

Now that we have reviewed what this rodent is, you are probably thinking that you don’t want to get to know the roof rat up close and personal and want to keep them out of your home. Below are some tips to help you deter these rats from your home:

  • Store food in containers with lids
  • Keep your garbage cans closed and emptied regularly
  • Check windows and doors to ensure they close tightly with no gaps
  • Dryer and roof vents should have screen covers
  • Ensure pet food is off the ground and in sealed containers
  • Remove pet feces from your yard and property
  • Seal holes where power lines, water, and other cables enter your home
  • Fix plumbing leaks and any other water sources near your home that can create standing water
  • Keep trees and shrubs trimmed away from your home (cut back limbs as needed)

If you find your Phoenix or Tucson home with a roof rat infestation or another rodent problem, Bucksworth Home Services can help. Rodents reproduce rapidly, and small populations become full-blown infestations in very little time. At Bucksworth Home Services, we offer a 24-Hour Promise, which means we will be to your home in under 24 hours to fix your pest problem. If you have a pest or rodent problem in Phoenix or Tucson, contact us for a free in home estimate. We can help resolve your problem and ensure it doesn’t happen again. We stand by our service so much that if you have another intrusion, we will come back and fix it for free.