Roof Rat Control
Roof Rat Control is a process that is usually very timely and difficult, no one wants a rodent infestation in their house or garage. Here’s what you need to know about their habits and preferences and how you can make your home less inviting to rats, mice and how to best deal with their presence.
Roof Rat Ecology You Need to Know
The roof rat, also known as the black rat is an introduced (non-native) rat. They have been found along the southern Atlantic and Gulf coastal states from Virginia to Texas and throughout Florida. Roof Rats also are found along the Pacific coast of California, Washington state, and Oregon.
Your typical roof rat is between 13 to 18 inches long including its tail. The Roof Rat it is distinguished from other rats by their tail, which is longer than the rest of their body. Roof rats are dark brown to black, sleek, slender, and agile. They have large ears, and are smaller than Norway rats and will eat almost anything, including paper, cardboard, pet food, and reproduce prolifically.
Roof rats are nocturnal, and can transmit diseases like the bubonic plague and typhus. Roof rats do not burrow in the ground, and are poor swimmers. These rats only need a hole the size of a quarter to gain entry to homes and buildings.
Roof Rats prefer high places so once inside, they will go to the highest place in the home like attics and crawlspaces. They are great climbers and will climb walls and use utility lines and fences to travel from structure to structure. Outside, roof rats will nest in trees, woodpiles, garbage, and plants.
A few possible signs of roof rats are: if you have citrus trees, hollowed-out fruit on the ground or in the trees; gnawing or scratching sounds in the attic or in the walls; oily rubmarks on the house; and small holes in the screens. Pay attention to any droppings in attics and storage areas; roof rat droppings are long and cylindrical.
Rodent Proofing Your Home
Some of the things that you can possibly do to make your home a little more safe from rats and mice by rodent proofing your home. Here are some suggestions for rat proofing your home.
Rodent and Rat Proofing Suggestions
- Repair or replace damaged ventilation screen around the foundation and under eaves.
- Provide a tight fitting cover for the crawl space.
- Seal all openings around pipes, cables, and wires that enter through walls or the foundation.
- Be sure all windows that can be opened are screened and that the screens are in good condition.
- Cover all chimneys with a spark arrester.
- Make sure internal screens on roof and attic air vents are in good repair.
- Cover rooftop plumbing vent pipes in excess of 2 inches in diameter with screens over their tops.
- Make sure all exterior doors are tight fitting and weatherproofed at the bottom.
- Seal gaps beneath garage doors with a gasket or weatherstripping.
- Install self-closing exits or screening to clothes dryer vents to the outside.
- Remember that pet doors into the house or garage provide an easy entrance for rodents.
- Keep side doors to the garage closed, especially at night.
- Keep your trees trimmed, and your bushes and vines thinned. Make sure trees are trimmed back from the house at least 4 feet.
- Keep lids on garbage cans.
- Clean up all debris in the yard and storage areas.
- Seal around your attic.
- Don’t leave pet food outside, especially at night.
- Pick your citrus as soon as it is ripe. Remove any fallen citrus from the ground.
- Store wood at least 18 inches above the ground and 12 inches away from walls.
- Eliminate standing water and fix leaky faucets.
Getting Rid of Roof Rats
For controlling rats indoors, use traps. The bait should be fastened securely to the trigger of the trap with light string, thread, fine wire, or glue so the rodent will spring the trap in attempting to remove the food. Soft baits such as peanut butter and cheese can be used, but rats sometimes take soft baits without setting off the trap. Leaving traps baited but unset until the bait has been taken at least once improves trapping success by making the rodents more accustomed to the traps.
For roof rats, the best places for traps are off the ground in locations where rats may be coming down from their nests to find food, such as on ledges, shelves, branches, fences, pipes, or overhead beams, where the traps can be fastened with screws or wire. In homes, the attic and garage rafters close to the infestation are good trapping sites. In areas where children, pets, or birds might contact traps, place the trap in a box or use a barrier to keep them away.
One of the alternatives to a snap trap is a glue board. Glue boards work on the same principle as flypaper: when a rat or mouse attempts to cross the glue board, the rodent gets stuck. Glue boards are much more effective for mice than for rats. Also, one of the major drawbacks with glue boards and other live-catch type traps is that the trapped rat may not die quickly, and you will need to kill it.
Live traps are not recommended because trapped rats must either be killed or released elsewhere. Releasing rats outdoors is not recommended because of health concerns to people, pets, and other domestic animals. Because neither the roof nor Norway rat is native to this country, their presence in the wild is very detrimental to native ecosystems.
While trapping is generally recommended for controlling rats indoors, when the number of rats around a building is high, you may need to use toxic baits to achieve adequate control, especially if there is a continuous reinfestation from surrounding areas. If this is the case, consider hiring a licensed pest control applicator, who is trained to use rodenticides safely. Baiting is best done outdoors; otherwise rats may die behind a wall. In hot weather, the stench of a dead rat can be unbearable and may necessitate cutting a hole in the wall to remove the carcass. Also, external parasites such as fleas and mites often leave dead rat carcasses and may infest the entire house if the carcass is not removed promptly.
Pets and Roof Rat Control
All rodent baits are toxic to dogs and cats, so be cautious in their use. Because the anticoagulants are cumulative and slow acting, dead rats may contain several lethal doses of toxicant, and secondary poisoning of pets and wildlife is possible if rat carcasses are consumed. If you suspect that a pet has consumed bait, get it to a vet immediately.
The best precaution is to keep pets away from bait and dead or dying rodents. Dispose of dead rodents by burying or placing in a plastic bag, sealing, and placing in the trash. Do not handle them with bare hands. Place the bait only in areas specified on the label. Put bait in locations out of the reach of children, pets, domestic animals, and nontarget wildlife or in tamper-resistant bait stations. These bait stations must be resistant to destruction by dogs and by children under 6 years of age and must be constructed in a manner that prevents a child from reaching into the bait compartments and obtaining bait. If bait can be shaken from stations when lifted or tipped, stations must be secured or otherwise immobilized. Store unused bait in a locked cabinet inaccessible to children and domestic animals.