Roof Rats

( Rattus rattus )

Characteristics

SIZE: Larger rodents that may grow to a body length of 10 to 12 inches. Seldom will a rat weigh more than one pound.

COLOR: Can vary from gray to brown to black.

BEHAVIOR: Few people really like rats or mice, and no one wants them in their house. Rodents live everywhere outside and could enter at any time, but fortunately, this does not occur often. Usually, most home invasions occur in the fall, not because of cooler weather, but because the seeds and plants on which rodents feed outside are gone. Rats and mice must then seek new food sources. Unfortunately, one of these sources may be your home. Rats are excellent climbers and are capable of gaining entry through holes around soffit vents, around cables entering the building, through holes in gable vent screens and through turbine and box vents on roofs. Many garage doors on homes allow enough space for rats to fit underneath, as well.

Habitats

Outside, rats live in fields, wooded areas, vacant lots, farms and just about anywhere people have buildings. Rats are seldom a problem in homes except in urban and rural areas. This is due in large part to their size, since rats need a hole about the size of a quarter in order to gain entry into a building. Rats, however, may find harborage in many areas around the home - especially in stacked firewood, stones and bricks, and piles of leaves or other debris.

Tips for Control

The best ways to avoid invasions of pack rats are to provide as little harborage as possible that might attract rodents and seal as many holes and cracks in the outside of the home through which rats might enter. Follow these recommendations to help prevent pack rats from seeking the food and shelter provided by your home:

  • Keep firewood stored as far from the home as possible and store it off the ground. During the winter, store only enough wood next to the house to burn every couple of days.

  • If possible, remove any piles of debris, stones, bricks, etc. If these are near the foundation of the home, they serve as harborages to attract rodents. Once there, it is an easy step for rodents to enter the building itself.

  • Seal any hole or crack larger than one-fourth of an inch. Large holes or cracks should be stuffed with steel wool or wire mesh before sealing with caulk or foam, otherwise rodents could chew through to enter.

  • Install a good, thick weather stripping on the bottom of all doors to prevent rodents from entering. The garage door may prove difficult to seal completely, so the door from the garage to the house must be tightly sealed.

  • Remember, your Terminix service includes coverage of commensal rats and mice, and much of the service provided during the colder months is to inspect for signs of rodents and to maintain preventative control measures.