The U.S. is grappling with a significant rodent issue, with nearly 14.8 million occupied housing units reporting their presence. Florida, in particular, is not exempt from this problem. The warm climate of this state acts as a magnet for these pests, making them a prevalent nuisance for homeowners.

So what are roof rats, and how can you effectively identify and prevent them? These skinny rats with big ears like to climb, chew on wires, contaminate food, and leave droppings that can spread diseases. Read on for expert advice on how to detect and deter them.

What Are Roof Rats?

Roof rats, also called black or ship rats, love living in high places. Unlike their cousins, the Norway rats (often seen in basements and sewers), roof rats prefer attics, roofs, and upper floors. Their long tails and agile bodies allow them to sneak in through tree branches or gaps around your roof.

These rodents are about the size of a large loaf of bread (6-8 inches long) with slender bodies, big eyes and ears, and a pointed nose. Their fur is usually brown or black, with a lighter belly. But the giveaway feature is their long and hairless tail, often longer than their body.

Why Should You Care?

Roof rats can wreak havoc in your home. But their preference for heights isn’t the only reason to be concerned. Let’s delve into the two main roof rats risks.

A roof rat carries and spreads diseases through its droppings, urine, and even by biting. These diseases can be dangerous for you and your family. Some of the rodent-borne illnesses you might be exposed to include:

  • Salmonella: A bacterial infection that leads to unpleasant stomach cramps, diarrhea, and fever
  • Leptospirosis: A bacterial illness that can cause flu-like symptoms, muscle aches, and even kidney failure
  • Rat-bite fever: A bacterial infection spread through bites or scratches from infected rats that can cause fever, chills, and even swelling of the lymph nodes

Roof rats are great chewers. Their sharp teeth can gnaw through a surprising amount of material, including electrical wires, insulation, drywall, and some soft flooring materials. Chewed wires pose a serious fire hazard, while damaged insulation can increase energy bills and make your home less comfortable.

Identifying Roof Rat Signs Around Your Home

The first step in dealing with these unwanted guests is roof rat identification. Roof rats prefer to live up high, making them tricky to spot. Luckily, there are telltale signs that can help you identify them before they become a bigger problem.

Droppings, Scratching Noises, and Nests

Look for dark, pellet-shaped droppings about ½ inch long with pointed ends. You’ll likely find them in areas where the rats are active. These areas include attics, crawlspaces, cabinets, and along walls.

Roof rats build nests with soft materials like shredded paper, insulation, or fabric. They might build them in attics, wall cavities, or your belongings, like boxes or drawers. Since they’re nocturnal, you might hear them scurrying around in your attic or walls at night.

Gnaw and Rub Marks

Roof rats gnaw on wires, food packages, wood, insulation, and anything else they can get their teeth on. They tend to follow regular paths along walls and baseboards. Over time, the grease and dirt from their fur leave brown streaks or “rub marks” on these surfaces.

Roof Rat Prevention Tips: Keeping Those Pesky Climbers Out

Roof rats, those agile climbers with a taste for trouble, can be a real nuisance in your home. You can keep these unwanted guests at bay with some preventative pest measures. Check out these roof rats prevention tips:

Seal Up Your Home and Minimize Roof Rat Access

Roof rats can squeeze through surprisingly small gaps. So, inspect the exterior of your home for cracks around pipes, wires, foundations, and chimneys. Seal larger openings with caulk, metal flashing, or steel wool.

Remember to check vent covers and rooflines for potential entry points. Make sure doors and windows fit snugly and repair any damaged weather stripping. Since door sweeps further can block any tiny entryways, consider installing them.

Keep long tree branches and bushes trimmed away from your house. This will prevent roof rats from using them as highways to reach your roof. Store firewood and other outdoor materials away from the exterior walls of your house to remove potential nesting spots for roof rats.

Eliminate Food and Water Sources

Store all food, pet food included, in airtight containers. Don’t leave crumbs or spills on counters or floors. You should also regularly clean up kitchens and pantries to remove any potential food scraps.

Use trash bins with tight-fitting lids and empty them regularly. Compost piles should be kept far away from your house to avoid attracting roof rats. Fix leaky faucets and pipes promptly and eliminate any standing water sources around your foundation or in potted plants.

Additional Roof Rat Control Methods

If you suspect an active infestation, there are additional roof rats control methods to follow. You can set snap traps or bait stations in strategic locations. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully and place traps out of reach of children and pets.

Ultrasonic repellents can also help. These devices emit high-frequency sounds that are supposedly unpleasant to rodents. However, their effectiveness is debatable, so you should use them with other prevention methods.

Don’t just follow these roof rat prevention tips. Be vigilant about potential entry points to reduce the risk of a roof rat infestation significantly. If you suspect a serious problem, call a professional pest control company for assistance.

Concerned About Roof Rats and How to Stop Them? Prodigy Pest Solutions Can Help

Before you can tackle them, understand this: what are roof rats? Roof rats are long, slender rodents that climb and live in the upper parts of buildings. You can identify them by their droppings and smudge marks and prevent them by sealing entry points and keeping food and water out of reach.

Roof rats causing problems in your Florida home? Prodigy Pest Solutions offers customized and affordable pest control plans to eliminate other unwanted pests. Get a quote today, and if you see any signs of roof rats after our treatment, we’ll come back for free.