Here in South Florida the rodent that frequently causes the most havoc is the roof rat. Roof rats are known by a variety of names including black rats, palm rats, fruit rats, ship rats, and Alexandrian rats. They got the name roof rat because they like to make their shelter in the upper parts of buildings. Their scientific name is Rattus rattus. They originated in Southeast Asia but can now be found throughout the world. Coastal states and seaports frequently have a large number of roof rats.
What Do Roof Rats Look Like?
Roof rats are brown in color with black intermixed in their fur. Their underside is gray, white, or black. They are long and thin rodents. If you include their tail they measure around 16-18 inches long. Typically about half of their length is found in their tail. They weigh anywhere between 5 to 12 ounces. They have large eyes and ears, a pointed nose, and a scaly tail.
Where Do Roof Rats Live?
Roof rats here in Florida are the more the most active from September through March when citrus season is in full swing. They are nocturnal creatures. During the day they like to seclude themselves in dark places. They will build their nests in attics, cabinets, ceilings, garages, inside walls and sheetrock and laundry rooms if they come inside your home. If they live outside they will climb up trees and build nests above the ground. You can find them building their nests in trees, shrubs, wood piles, and dense vegetation.
What Do Roof Rats Eat?
Most roof rats like to eat meat scraps and high-protein foods but roof rats mainly eat nuts and fruits. Roof rats are hoarders and will gather food and store it in their nest to eat later. If they get hungry enough they will eat ornamental plants, dog and cat food, vegetables that are out in the garden, seeds, tree bark, insects, lizards, paper, and candle wax. They build their nests near water sources. If they can’t find a water source they will chew through plastic and metal pipes to get water.
Roof Rat Damage & Diseases
Many rodents, roof rats included, have a constant need to chew to keep their incisor teeth from getting too long. This makes them very destructive. If they come into your home they will chew through pipes, duct work, electrical cords, and more. If they chew through or damage electrical wires you may run the risk of a house fire. You will want to watch for signs that roof rats are in your house. They leave droppings that are about 0.5 inches long. You may have gnawing or scratching noises in the attic or walls. You can spot them running on tree limbs, power lines, roofs, patios, and trees. If you have pets they may show signs of agitation and stress that is abnormal if there are roof rats on your property. Roof rats can transmit diseases to humans if they bite you as well as via their droppings, contamination and by fleas that are feeding on them.
If you have signs of roof rats on your property you will want to take care of the problem immediately. Roof rats reproduce rapidly. Females can have up to three litters a year with each litter having five to eight babies. Call Southest Florida Pest Control today so that we can send someone out to come up with a plan for your roof rat problem.