Of all attic pest possibilities, roof rats are probably the most upsetting to a homeowner. The idea of rats running about overhead is often more unsettling than picturing squirrels doing the same thing. However, roof rats in the attic is a very common issue for homeowners.
For anyone searching for a solution to 'roof rats in attic', poison is usually the first option to come up. We hope to change that! Did you know owls, weasels, snakes, foxes and coyotes are natural predators to the roof rat? Poisoning a rat can result in poisoning it's predator. Cats, both feral and domestic, will naturally hunt rats too. This also puts them at risk. Due to the association rats have with uncleanliness and disease, few homeowners would give anything other than poison and traps a passing thought for a much-needed solution.
Roof Rats will inhabit attics for the same reason any other nuisance wildlife would—security and accessibility. Unoccupied attics provide an ideal place for undisturbed living quarters. Easy access to food from fruit trees, gardens and trashcans solidify their stay. Roof Rats also need a dependable water source, so if your yard provides this, they'll come around.
Homeowners who find that they have roof rats in the attic will not only suffer with the noise above, but more importantly the damage caused by chewing and assigning portions of the attic as a latrine.
Roof Rat is another name for the Black Rat (Rattus rattus). They are known as roof rats due to their tendency of staying high along rooflines. Another common name for the roof rat is ship rat, since their spread was made possible riding ships into new territories. The roof rat is a common rodent and pest, but not to be confused with its' much larger, better-known cousin, the Norway Rat. The Norway Rat (also known as the Brown Rat) is the better known/more recognized rat of the two. The Roof Rat originated in Asia and spread to Europe and onward. Roof rats live in the warmest areas of the United States: from the Southeast and Gulf States to the West Coast.
If you live in the coastal or southern region of the US and hear activity in your attic, roof rats are a possibility. You will hear scurrying in your attic and gnawing mainly at night. This will especially be present when the weather starts to cools down. If noise is heard during the day, a larger population of roof rats may be using your attic. Also, roof rats will stick to a certain route through your home. They establish this for easy navigation through your house. Repeatedly hearing noises in a pathway overhead could mean roof rats.
Odor is another tell-tale sign of Roof Rats in the attic. Roof Rats will use portions of the attic as their bathroom and this scent will be noticeable. Roof Rats also stain walls with greasy markings emitted from their fur. Because roof rats have poor eyesight, they use these markings to remind them where they want to go in your house. Repeatedly staining these areas leaves a mess and smell. Roof Rats will also store food in your home.
A Roof Rat nest in the attic will be primarily made of torn apart insulation from your home. Also, they may use paper goods and other found scrap to construct their nest inside your attic.
Roof rats prefer to stay off the ground, and are said to spend most of their lives elevated at least 4 feet off the ground. In their natural habitat, roof rats nest high in trees. However, roof rats are adaptable and resilient and will move into shrubs, wood piles and other lower locations that provide shelter.
Attics are high, dark, warm, and rarely disturbed areas. Attics offer security from the elements and predators. An attic is an ideal space for roof rats to set up a warm home, store food, and raise a family.
Roof rats are expert climbers; they travel along power lines with ease and can scale a brick building with no problem. Roof rats can also jump 2 feet high, and can clear a 4 foot distance from one standing point to another.
Roof rats only need a half-inch wide hole to gain access to a building. A nickle-sized hole can either be squeezed through or simply chewed by the roof rat to make access a little easier. Roof rats can chew through a variety of materials: drywall, plastic, wood, aluminum siding.
Roof rats will mark entry holes as their territory using the secretions from their fur. This scent remains long after your tenant roof rats are gone. This scent serves as a signal to other scouting roof rats that your place was once approved by former roof rats.
Lastly, since roof rats have teeth that never stop growing, they must gnaw to survive. Chewing through materials is necessary for the roof rat, and an attic provides plenty of areas for chewing. Wood beams, vents, pipes, shingles, and unfortunately live wires are all susceptible to roof rat gnawing. Roof rat incisors would grow in a spiral if they didn't chew to wear them down.
You will hear roof rat activity throughout your attic mainly at night. Roof rat chewing and scurrying is heard overhead, and makes a good night sleep unattainable. If you find you hear noise during the day, you are dealing with a larger number of rats.
Roof rats move into attics when the weather starts to cool, and they will occupy your attic in the cooler fall and winter months.
The average life span of a roof rat is 1 year due to predators and pest control. It is thought that a roof rat could live up to 4 years max.
The roof rat breeding season is mainly in the Spring and Summer. The average roof rat litter consists of 4-6 babies. Roof rats will have litters up to 6 times each year. Many homeowners with roof rat problems complain that it is a never-ending issue—this is due to the roof rats' prolific reproduction and the well-marked pathways they establish in a home that suites them. Excluding roof rats from you home can be very difficult. Sealing holes will not deter a roof rat from coming back in! They will make more holes if necessary.
Is it possible to end the roof rats' prolonged stay in an attic? Yes! By following this guide, you will not only evict the roof rats currently living in your attic, you will keep roof rats from coming back in the future.
With any roof rat problem, you should first do the things that help your situation. Your home should be clear of any easily accessible food and water sources. Removing as many sources of food as possible. Fallen fruit should be picked up immediately and trashcan lids secured. Bird feeders should also be cleaned up as roof rats enjoy nuts too. Any food/water placed outdoors for pets should be brought inside and secured.
Trimming away any branches close to your roof line, and pruning shrubs will also deter roof rats. Keep trees, shrubs and vines maintained to discourage climbing and nesting. Also, keep an eye out for any sources of water the roof rats may depend on. Watch out for leaky fixtures! Water sources include: faucets, hoses, sprinkler heads, air conditioning units. Water fountains, ponds, even plant pots and bird baths provide a dependable source of water for roof rats.
If you can find the main entry holes, you can close them 30 days after your strobe light installation Seal any holes that may serve as entry points. However, you want to leave a small opening for the roof rats to see inside your previously occupied attic/crawl space. This way, whenever a roof rat ventures back to your house, a view of the strobe light is a reminder that this is one place they do not want to go.
Making an effort to alter or undo the first signs of nest building is encouraged for roof rats. Roof rats will keep their home turf to a 200 foot area. If you have a nest in your house or on your property, they won't be traveling much farther than those 200 feet for resources. Eliminating the sources of food, water, and their efforts in building a nest will decrease your probability of having roof rats back. Using the Evictor® Strobe Light will ensure your home is rodent-free for years to come.