What Are The Common Signs Of Roof Rats
In most cases, a homeowner finds a rateither dead or aliveinside or outside their home. Roof rats are social creatures who live in colonies, so never assume that one rat is just a random occurrence. Youll want to take action.
Even if you dont see a rat, there might be other prominent signs of roof rats around. Here are just a few things to look out for:
What Are Norway Rats
The Norway rat commonly referred to as the street or sewer rat, is believed to be of Asian origin, arriving in the U.S. on ships from other countries in the 1700s. Today, Norway rats are found throughout the world. Norway rats have fairly poor vision and are colorblind. Despite this, their other senses, including hearing, smell, touch and taste are keen. Although not extremely agile, they are capable of running, climbing, jumping and swimming. Norway rats are known to cause damage to properties and structures through their gnawing. Read more to learn about Norway rats, including Norway rat control.
What Diseases Do Rats Carry
When rats and mice enter your home, they bring a number of pathogens along with them. Worldwide, rodents are known to spread over 35 diseases to humans, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention rats are responsible for many of them.
Rats transmit diseases in two ways: directly and indirectly. Direct transmission occurs when humans accidentally touch infected urine, droppings, or rodents. These are the most common rat-borne diseases transmitted directly by the rodents, per the CDC:
- Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, a severe respiratory disease causing flu-like symptoms, dizziness, and stomach problems at first, then extreme shortness of breath
- Leptospirosis, a bacterial disease causing flu-like symptoms, plus jaundice and red eyes
- Plague, a disease causing rapid-onset fever, chills, and weakness, plus necrotic tissue, swollen lymph nodes, or pneumonia, depending on the strain
- Rat-bite fever, a disease causing fever, vomiting, rash, headache, and body pain
- Salmonellosis, a bacterial infection causing diarrhea
- Tularemia, an illness causing fever and sometimes ulcers, inflammation, and chest pain
Indirect transmission happens when a rats parasites also bite and infect humans the diseases they can transmit include babesiosis, Lyme disease, and West Nile. Rats do not transmit rabies, Corrigan notes.
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First What Are Roof Rats
If you have never heard of roof rats, you may have heard their other names roof rats are commonly called ship rats or black rats due to their black and brown fur patterns. And they are the type of rat that has a scaly tail. These rats can grow to be around 16 inches in length, and they like to live in coastal areas.
These critters are quite acrobatic and can scale tall buildings in a single bound, not to mention trees and high wires. They are very adaptable and prefer to take refuge in places like your attic, shed, garage, rafters, trees, and walls.
Roof Rat Control & Removal
To help prevent roof rats from inhabiting your home or business or to help get rid of rats, it is crucial to remove their food source. Here are some helpful tips:
- Seal up cracks and crevices around your windows, doors, eaves, chimney, and any other entry point
- Replace broken screens over windows and vents, or install new ones.
- Install, repair or replace damaged weather stripping.
- Trim back bushes and tree branches so they are away from your home or business is also helpful, as roof rats are exceptional climbers, and can use these to gain access to your roof.
- Use indoor garbage cans with secure lids, and empty regularly.
- Store outdoors away from homes and buildings, and secure with tight-fitting lids.
- Store dry foods in tightly sealed containers.
- Regularly clean and sanitize your kitchen, and other eating areas.
Learn more about getting rid of roof rats.
If you uncover a roof rat infestation contact a licensed pest professional, like Environmental Pest Control with rat control experience.
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Why Do I Have A Roof Rat Problem
If roof rats are on your property because it offers them access to food and shelter, they wont hesitate to take advantage of entry points leading into your house. Roof rats move indoors to build a nest in a safe area or to escape harsh weather conditions. They are exceptional climbers, so they often find a way into homes through spaces along the roofline, gaps around chimneys or roof intersections, or utilities entering your home. They also wont hesitate to use their chisel-like teeth to create an opening in a structure.
Getting Rid Of A Roof Rat Infestation
This requires the expertise of a licensed and experienced pest professionalsomeone who has worked with a roof rat infestation before. Removing an infestation isnt just about laying down some traps and calling it a day. It requires a strategic approach that focuses on removing the current infestation and denying food, water, and shelter to roof rats. In other words, one of our pest control experts can help you figure out how to kick your current roof rats out and then keep them out.
In our experience, a strategic combination of traps, home sealing, and habitat denial tends to work. On their own, approaches like the use of poison or rat-catcher cats do not end an infestation, and tend to introduce new sets of problems and issues. We recommend you talk to a rodent professional and avoid any do-it-yourself shortcuts. They just tend to not work.
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How Can I Prevent Roof Rats In The Future
More than an inconvenience, pests can be dangerous and cause a lot of damage. In addition to our professional pest control services, use the following tips to keep roof rats out of your yard and home:
Cut tree branches and shrubbery back away from your roof.
Remove brush piles, woodpiles, and other debris from your yard that is unnecessary and will only give roof rats and other pests a place to hide.
Repair holes along the roofline and fix loose or missing shingles or siding.
Repair any loose screens or screens with holes.
Vents should have covers placed on them.
Make sure to keep lids on trash cans and compost bins to keep roof rats from foraging for food in them.
Roof rats love to climb fruit trees, so regularly harvest fruits to make fruit trees on your property less attractive to these hungry rodents.
Myth : Its Ok To Approach Or Touch A Rat
Weve heard this one before: Plenty of kids keep rats as pets, so cornering a wild one is fine, right? No, absolutely not.
Domesticated rats are accustomed to being around humans, and they recognize them as a friendly source of food. But wild rats can actually be vicious and unpredictable, so its best to keep a safe distance. In particular, avoid rats that are trapped but still alive in a glue or snap trap. They may lash out and bite or scratch you, which can be dangerous.
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How Do I Handle A Rat Infestation
If you suspect a rat roof infestation in your home, the first step is to contact your local pest control provider to remove them from your home. When dealing with mice and rat infestations, you will want to sanitize your home, eliminating anything that can be used as food or nesting materials such as wood chip piles, landscaping scraps, unsealed garbage, or food not kept in containers with tight lids. Make sure to seal off any potential entry points larger than half an inch wide, focusing on openings like attic vents, gutters, and crawl spaces, to prevent movement.
Home And Landscape Tips
You can take steps around the home and yard to prevent roof rats from entering your home. Start with sealing entries in the home, then:
- Use caulk to fill in any cracks or crevices around the home that measure 0.25 in or larger
- Place screens over roof vents and attic turbine ventilators
- Use a chimney cap or screen to protect your fireplace
- Look for and block entryways under sinks, near washers, dryers, dishwashers & hot water heaters
- Always shut doors when exiting your home
- Make sure all window screens are in good condition
You can do some simple landscaping to prevent roof rats from gaining entry to your home. For example, prune back tree branches or limbs near your home within three feet of your roof. Keep palm trees trimmed and take down vines or shrubs growing against or near the home. Thin out bushes near your house to discourage rats from using them as cover.
Homes that have attics or other high places are more prone to roof rat infestations because they prefer to live above ground. Some other things that can attract roof rats to your home include:
- Heavy shrubbery
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Myth : All Rats Love Cheese
We blame this myth on our childhood cartoons, which taught us that all rodents love cheese. Actually, only certain species of rats will be attracted to cheese. Roof rats are actually vegetarians, while Norway rats are omnivores.
Thats why, if you have a rat problem, its helpful to know what kind of rat youre dealing with. You can also sidestep the question of bait altogether by using long-lasting bio-attractant lure bottles, like those used in the Goodnature A24 Rat and Mouse Trap.
What Do Roof Rats Eat
Roof rats are omnivorous and willing to eat practically anything available to them. However, they prefer to feed on seeds, nuts, fruits and berries when in season. Additionally, they will feed on slugs and snails, which may become a large part of their diet. Roof rats also feed on insects including American and brown cockroaches. If they live near bodies of water, they will eat fish, shellfish and other aquatic organisms.
Roof rats typically feed at dusk and again prior to dawn, although they will forage several times per night and during the day. Roof rats in particular are food hoarders, meaning that they have been known to stash supplies of things such as nuts and seeds. When eating, they prefer to be in a sheltered or hidden environment.
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Diseases Caused By Rats Rat Droppings Rat Urine And Rat Saliva
Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome : This is a deadly disease transmitted by infected rodents through urine, droppings, or saliva. Humans can contract the disease when they breathe in aerosolized virus. HPS was first recognized in 1993, and although rare, HPS is potentially deadly. Rodent control in and around the home remains the primary strategy for preventing hantavirus infection.
Murine Typhus occurs worldwide and is transmitted to humans by rat fleas. Flea-infested rats can be found throughout the year in humid tropical environments, but in temperate regions are most common during the warm summer months. Travelers who visit in rat-infested buildings and homes, especially in harbour or riverine environments, can be at risk for exposure to the agent of murine typhus.
Rat-Bite Fever is a systemic bacterial illness caused by Streptobacillus moniliformis that can be acquired through the bite or scratch of a rodent or the ingestion of food or water contaminated with rat faeces.
Leptospirosis is among the worlds most common diseases transmitted to people from animals. The infection is commonly transmitted to humans by allowing water that has been contaminated by animal urine to come in contact with unhealed breaks in the skin, the eyes, or with the mucous membranes. Outside of tropical areas, leptospirosis cases have a relatively distinct seasonality with most of them occurring in spring and autumn.
Why Do I Have Rats
Rats are one of the most adaptable creatures on the planet and have spread around the world. The most common rat species in Canada are the Norway rat, also known as brown rats, and the roof rat, also called black rats.
Norway rats like to stay at ground level or in burrows, in crawl spaces, basements, or around the perimeter of the house. Roof rats like to nest in trees, attics, and rafters.
Both usually access homes by squeezing through unsealed openings, but they are strong swimmers, and can enter through toilets and drain pipes too.
Rats will generally eat anything and are attracted to any food easily available. Norway rats tend to prefer foods high in fat content, like grease and meat. Meanwhile, roof rats prefer grains, nuts, seeds, and plant-based foods, possibly because the packaging can be used for nesting.
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Diseases Indirectly Transmitted By Rats
Plague: This disease is carried by rats and transmitted by fleas in the process of taking a blood meal. Domestic rats are the most common reservoir of plague.
Colorado Tick Fever: This is a viral disease that is transmitted by the bite of a tick that has taken a blood meal from a bushy-tailed woodrat.
Cutaneous Leishmaniasis: This disease is a parasite that is transmitted to a person by the bite of an infected sand fly that has fed on a wild woodrat.
Myth : These Days Rats Dont Actually Carry Diseases
Not true. In the Middle Ages, rats were one of the top carriers of the plague. And while modern living conditions and medicine prevent that level of outbreak from recurring, rats are still extremely effective disease carriers. The Norway rat in particular is notorious for spreading trichinosis, salmonella, and other dangerous pathogens that could be extremely harmful to you and your pets.
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Causing Significant Stress To Pets
We work so hard to make sure our family and pets are comfortable in the home. So, when you sense your pet is unhappy, constantly irritated, or upset about something, it may be the roof rats in your attic. But, then, if they try to find the rat, they can get bitten, get caught in a trap, or be poisoned. No one wants that.
How To Prevent A Rat Infestation In Your Home
Roof rats are nesters and typically seek shelter in the upper parts of a home like an attic or inside walls. Nests will be located in dark areas that are not likely to be disturbed. Common nesting materials include shredded paper, wall insulation, cotton, and packing materials. Make sure to clean up any debris and similar materials from in and around your home to prevent these pests from nesting.
Roof rats forage for food and stockpile it in their nest. A telltale sign of a roof rat infestation is the presence of droppings. If the droppings are moist and soft, that means it is fresh, whereas it will be dry if it is older. These rats are a nocturnal species, so if they are heard during the day the population is most likely large. Damaged electrical wires and other household goods is another sign, as well as teeth marks, noises in the walls, and greasy rub marks in the home. Having an exterminator inspect the home is an easy way to determine if you have a roof rat problem.
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Monitor And Evaluate Control Measures
Monitor and evaluate how well your rodent control program is working.
- Is your trap bait working?
- Finding a bait that rodents like can take some time. You may need to try several different kinds before finding one that is effective
Once your rodent problem is under control, revisit preventative measures to stop it from happening again. Continue to monitor for problem areas or other signs of rat or mouse pests.
How To Prevent Roof Rats From Invading
Check wiring for chew marks and gnawing, Check the walls for rubbing marks or holes, Look out for small, pellet-like droppings, Keep food preparation areas clean, Clean up spills and crumbs immediately, Remove food sources, including bird feeders, Clean and rotate dumpsters regularly, Make sure trash cans are covered tightly, Trim back vegetation from building exterior, Seal any cracks or holes with caulk or foam, Fix leaky soda or ice machines and HVAC units, Remove any standing water outside, Dont leave doors open for a long time, Install weather strips around doors and windows
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Threshold For Rat And Mouse Control
As soon as you notice signs of rats or mice, its time to take action. Rats and mice reproduce quickly. Ignoring an occasional invader can result in a much more damaging infestation.
Rats and mice can:
- Damage property by chewing on materials like insulation, siding and wallboard
- Start electrical fires by gnawing on wiring
- Eat and contaminate stored food
- Transmit diseases
How To Identify Roof Rats
Black rats are a rodent which was most likely introduced to North America by early European settlers and explorers in the middle of the 16th century. They are also known as roof rat, ship rat, house rat, Alexandrine rat, and old English rat. Regardless of the name, they have smooth black or brown fur, and are about 40 centimetres long, and have earned some notoriety as carriers of serious diseases.
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