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Roof rats can certainly be a persistent pest requiring significant rat proofing work to keep them out of structures and under control. Here are some good tips on how to defend against a roof rat invasions.
Roof rats have found their way into and around homes and buildings since time began. Sir Richard Attenborough said that if you live anywhere in the civilized world, you are never more than 6 feet from a rat. Its name (Rattus rattus Linnaeus) is derived from the way it prefers to enter structures via the roof area. Over the centuries, Roof rats arrived in the U.S. from Europe and Southeast Asia by ships, so it can also known as a Ship rat. Yet another name for the Roof rat is the Black rat because its sub-species is commonly black, except for its gray belly.
Found in many parts of the United States, the roof rat nests in high places, both outdoors and indoors. That is why rats in the attic are such a common problem. In southern California it is not uncommon to see them nesting in the tops of palm trees. However, as its population expands it may extend its nesting area to include locations closer to the ground like ground floor levels inside and outside of buildings and in piles of various building materials.
The Roof rat lives mostly in warmer climates of the United States in the Southeast, some Gulf States as well as the Pacific Coast states. It can even be found in the Hawaiian Islands. To identify a Roof rat, as opposed to its near relative, the Norway rat, look for a scaly, hairless tail that is longer than their 6–8 inch body. Fur will be brown, black or gray with lighter gray, brown or white bellies. If you decide to weigh one (and I don’t know why you would,) they typically weigh around 5 to 8 ounces. Whereas the Norway rat is larger, tipping the scales at as much as 19 to 21 ounces. That is over one-and-a-half pounds of rat… eck…Rat Snap Traps and Bait
Most exterminators rely on the simple snap traps. You can choose from from the simple Victor spring / bar traps ( the Tom and Jerry variety) or the T-Rex or pedal-set traps which can be set with your foot. For snap trap bait, I usually recommend a a bit of peanut butter with a jar set a aside specifically for that purpose (it works better than cheese). Or for something less messy, you might want to try some Rat Attract bait.Kaput Rat & Mouse Bait — 32 placepacks — $35.99from: DoMyOwnPestControl.com
Obviously these traps are powerful and you want to make sure they are tucked away far from the reach of curious children or inquisitive pets. One additional note on the use of snap traps, Once you have a rat in the trap, the trap should be disposed of. Reusing a trap is not recommended because rats will recognize the scent of the previous corpse and avoid the trap.
Like the Norway Rat, Roof Rats have a spring and summer breeding season with litters 4 to 6 times per year, bearing on average, 4 to 6 pups with gestation period of approximately 3 weeks. The average life span is about one year.Rats in the Attic
Roof Rats may be heard scurrying around in the attic. Their location can be traced by discovering their gnawing damage to utility wire insulation or plastic items inside the house. They are active mostly in the cooler fall and winter months. Of course, rodent droppings are also a giveaway.
Although the it is widely believed that rats like to eat cheese, the fact is that Roof rats eat whatever is available and convenient. This will include vegetation, nuts and fruits and of course any garbage that can be found in their natural outdoor environment. Once inside a home, such items as pet foods, cereals or rice products and any other available food scraps are on the menu. Like most rats, the Roof rat usually stays close to its nest when not out hunting for food, usually within around 200 feet or so.
Because rats have very poor vision, roof rats travel closely along walls at night by using its whiskers, body guard hairs and nose to touch and smell its way around in its efforts to locate its preferred food. You can often find greasy marks on walls along electrical wires attached to your home.
So, what is the best way to keep Roof rats from entering in the first place? And how do you get rid of them once they are in the house? Here are a few simple steps.
Prune and remove vines, trees and other vegetation that allow access to and from roofs and attics.
Place and maintain obstacle guards on utility lines and fences where lines attach to or run nearby your residence.
Rats can squeeze into the hold the size of a quarter so repair and fill any cracks or other openings that make it possible for rats to get in.
Use baits with rodenticide as specified by the label instructions and conditions of use.
If you choose to use a rodenticide, know that a rat can ingest it and then later, die in a wall. Which is can be unpleasant.
Rats carry disease and their droppings can be toxic. Do not handle a dead rat without protective mask and rubber gloves.
I do not recommend shooting or relying upon predators such as cats and owls. Avoid the use of glue traps.
Finally, I personally do not like glue traps. Unless you plan on checking the traps every day, leaving a rat to starve in a glue trap seems unnecessarily cruel. Most professional exterminators will not use them. We prefer to get the unpleasant business over quickly.
As always, when dealing with cleanup, it is important that you use rubber gloves, an appropriate dust or paint mask and a good bleach based disinfectant.Related posts:Raccoon Removal: How to get rid of a raccoons