We can affirm that another household pest that makes up a great nuisance to us is the rat.
Nobody likes rats. Those pests are repulsive and have awful air around them. You would prefer ants infest your home if you were to choose between both. But neither is preferable.
The roof rat is one of the two commensal rats.
It is smaller compared to the Norway rat. The pests, which are sometimes called black rats, derive their name from their tendency to gravitate towards roofs and upper parts of buildings to find shelter.
Once they find their way into your home, they destroy things and contaminate foods. They serve as a trajectory for dangerous diseases. These rodents are seen all over the world, though are thought to be of Asian origin and are often nocturnal.
What do roof rats look like?
You can easily detect a roof rat when you see one. Roof rats are long and thin rodents with scaly tails, pointed noses, large eyes and ears.
They are about 16 to 17 inches long, tail inclusive, and about 6–8 inches excluding tail. They are brown colored with patches of black intermixing.
Their underbody parts could be grey or white.
Where do the roof rats live?
Roof rats live in coastal and tropical regions and prefer warmer climates. When they infest your home, they make their nests in your roofs and the upper layer of your building.
Because of their agility, they can climb anything that gives them access to your roof or attic; utility lines, walls, and ropes as well.
We can also find them in landscape industrial and residential areas, dense vegetation, streams and river banks, citrus or sugarcane groves, poultry houses, or farms where they can readily find food in abundance.
The lifecycle of roof rats
Roof rats hardly live for more than a year, but they have a rapid reproduction process that makes their population large and can cause an infestation.
Naturally, the female rat can give birth to about 40 babies if not more. After mating occurs between male and female rats, there is a gestation period of about 23 days, after which the female rats give birth.
These babies take about five weeks to mature and reach sexual maturity two to three months after birth. Reproduction begins soon after. Roof rats live together in groups.
Roof rats, diets, and habits
Roof rats feed on just about anything in your home. Stored or good foods, plant material, clothes, they even eat books. However, they fancy fruits, nuts, and animal feed more.
They feed on ornamental plants, tree barks, insects, vegetables, seeds, and food for your pets. They gnaw holes in woods, nets, and drywalls to gain access to your home.
You would hardly see them during the day, as they are nocturnal omnivores.
They scavenge for food and also store them. Roof rats can be likened to food hoarders. These pests would rampage your home at night when you are asleep to gather as much food as they can which they eat in hidden places.
Roof rats can enter your home through various means. They are determined pests that can get into any structure they choose. They are capable of travelling through pipes, utility lines to gain access into your home. Roof rats can also gnaw on window nets, dry walls, and even wood, making a sizable hole for their entry and exit. These rodents run away from their predators and find their way to your home as guests.
Are roof rats dangerous?
Roof rats may not readily attack humans but they are dangerous. These pests carry infectious diseases and can contaminate your food. They are dirty creatures that forage for food in various places like gutters, garbage dumps etc.
Some diseases they carry around include rat-bite fever, salmonella or bubonic plague. They also can carry parasites and fleas that are disease carriers and can spread typhus.
Roof ants are dangerous to your health, they cause illness and they are capable of biting you. These ants can also contaminate the food of your pets.
These pests also leave droppings and urine around your home that often smell and can contaminate foods, thereby causing food poisoning. If their urine contaminates water or food, it can cause jaundice.
Roof rats are capable of destroying property. They gnaw their way into your home and can destroy things in the process including household appliances, furniture, storage boxes and insulators.
Do roof rats bite?
Roof rats bite and scratch. Though they may not attack you immediately they see you, as their first impulse will be to hide but if they feel threatened, they may attack you, biting or scratching you. These bites or scratches can cause fever as well as other illnesses. Their bite is a threat to your health.
Roof rat-bite symptoms
The common sickness often caused by a rat bite is rat-bite fever. If you have been bitten by a roof rat, you will notice the following symptoms;
You may experience headache, vomiting, fever, rash, and pain in your joints and muscles.
How to get rid of roof rats
There are several ways to get rid of roof rats when they infest your home. But first and foremost, you need to be aware of any infestation. When you see a rat racing through or dead in your home, there is likely an infestation. These rodents move in groups – colonies. Other signs of infestation include;
Droppings – through droppings you can ascertain an infestation. These droppings are usually 12 to 13 mm with pointed ends.
Grease marks – these rodents possess claws that create grease marks along surfaces. These marks are produced when they travel across an edge in your home.
Dead or live rats have a smell so you are likely to smell them if they infest your home. You will also notice scratching noises on your roof.
After you notice an infestation, trace these rats to their nesting area but be careful not to pose a threat, they might attack you!
When you have done that, use rat killing methods to get rid of them. There are ranges of rat killing methods which includes the regular setting of traps and the use of repellents. Both traps and repents are effective ways of getting rid of roof rats.
Note that when trapping rats, it is important to use the right kind of bait as roof rats are likely to have different food preferences from other rats. Rat baits could be any of the following; dried fruits, nuts, berries, peanut butter and snail shells. Nuts and dried fruits are preferred.
Snap traps – snap traps are very effective for catching rats. It may be old fashioned, but it does the job well. It can be used both indoors and outdoors. Snap traps have metal bars that snap down on the ant and kill it. One snap trap can only kill one rat so you would need to have several of them if there is an infestation. Carefully set the trap with rat bait and place it in places where they frequent but preferably rooftop as you do not want to cause any accident for your children (if any) or your pets.
Electronic traps – electronic traps use high voltage shock to kill rats. It can only be used indoors and is reusable. It is a more modern means of killing rats and safe to use around children and pets. Some electronic trap products include; Rat Zapper Ultra, Electronic Rat Trap, and Rat Zapper Classic. Place them around walls where rats run through or around your roof.
Glue trap – glue traps can be used to get rid of rats in your home and they do not require baits but you can apply some for a quicker result. Place the glue trap at their entry points and where they usually run. Rat Glue Tray is a recommendable glue trap.
Ultrasonic repellent devices – this repellent emits non-repetitive high-frequency sound waves that stop rodents from entering your home. It also chases them away. PestChaser Pro is one of such ultrasonic repellent devices.
Once you are done getting rid of these rodents, ensure to close or seal up openings made by these pests, cut off trees close to your windows, repair and replace damaged properties and clean up after. Remember to take caution and protect yourself from them. Dispose of contaminated foods as well.
Getting rid of rats from your home may require patience as they are very cautious pests, especially when a food source is suddenly presented to them. Ensure to keep your environment clean regularly. Protect your home from roof rats. If you cannot get rid of them, contact a pest control professional for help.