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Roof Rats: Infestation Signs, Diseases, and Information

The roof rat (rattus rattus) is known to infest properties throughout the USA, especially in the southern third, and coastal states. Although commonly known as the roof rat, this particular species is also called the black rat and the ship rat. Roof rats were common on early sailing ships and this is how they found their way into North America. This type of rat has been known throughout history as a carrier of the plague. There are several diseases associated with roof rats, and certain signs to look for in order to spot roof rat infestation. Anytime rats in the attic are found, it is imperative that rat extermination is done to minimize damages.

Key Roof Rat Information

Roof rats can be found ranging from along the lower half of the East Coast and throughout the Gulf States. They also reside along the Pacific Coast. They are acclimatized to warmer weather, and well suited to both tropical, and semitropical weather conditions.

They are dark black to brown in color, measuring 13-18 inches in length including their tail. They are slender, with large hairless ears, weighing between 5-9 ounces, with a white, buff, or gray belly.

Outdoors, roof rats nest in trees, piles of wood, and debris. Inside, these rodents like to nest high up in the attics, ceilings, and rooves of buildings.

The roof rat generally feeds on vegetarian food, despite being omnivorous. Their typical diet includes Fresh fruit, plant material, nuts, seeds, vegetables, and even tree bark.

Roof rats enter homes through a number of different avenues. They can squeeze into any opening larger than a nickel or small coin. They can often be caught entering sheds, garages, or following pipes down or up to the attics. They use their teeth to gnaw through softer structures such as drywall… But they can also chew through wood, plastic, and soft metals.

Roof Rat Infestation Signs

Droppings are a sure-fire sign that you may have roof eats inside your property. Usually found in concealed areas, an adult roof rat can produce up to 40 droppings per night. Roof rat droppings are dark and around 12-13mm with pointed ends.

Visually observing dead or alive rodents is a tell-tale sign that you have a rat infestation. When rats leave their hiding places and expose themselves, it’s often a sign that their nesting areas or filled or have been invaded by other rats.

Look out for bite marks around the upper part of your house and attic. Roof rat’s teeth grow continuously, so they need to gnaw on wood or plastic to keep them trim.

Look out for rub marks along skirting boards and other surfaces. Rats have poor eyesight and rely on following surfaces to get around. Grease and dirt on their bodies leave smudges across surfaces and objects as they navigate through new properties.

Keep your ears open for scratching noises within your ceiling. Roof rats will scuttle around above you when they have gained access to your property.

Also look out for footprints and tail marks in dusty areas, you may want to sprinkle flour in areas that you suspect roof rats are dwelling in, this will help to catch them out.

Diseases Associated with Roof Rats

Roof rats carry and can spread a lot of diseases, hence the importance of identifying and destroying any infestations that you have in your home.

Bubonic plague is perhaps their most famous malady, this disease was spread across Europe several times throughout history and can still be found occasionally in the USA.

Rats that contaminate food or food surfaces can transmit food poisoning and rat bite fever through bacteria inside their mouths.

If you are unfortunate enough to inhale rat urine, saliva, or droppings, you run the risk of contracting Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome. So, it’s advised that instead of dealing with an infestation off your own back, call in the professionals and have the situation dealt with properly.

Rat urine is also responsible for the spread of Leptospirosis, which can result in severe liver and kidney damage in human beings.

Do you think that your home may be infested with roof rats? Have you checked for droppings, bite marks, grease marks and scratching noises?

If you have seen any dead rodents inside or around your property and are unsure, it’s best to seek the advice of a professional and keep children and pets away from the suspected infestation area at all times.