Roof rats often live outdoors in fields, farms and near buildings. Because roof rats are a relatively large species, they can’t enter homes and buildings as easily as smaller rats. They are skilled climbers, using tree branches, cables and vent screens on roofs to enter houses. Even these larger rats can fit under loosely closed garage doors.
Roof rats enter homes in the winter searching for food after plants are harvested in the fall. Piles of wood, stones, leaves or dirt near the home can make temporary shelters until the rats find a way inside.
These rats generally live in high places, including attics, roofs (hence their name) and trees. They’re experts at adapting, though, and can build nests in walls, garages, basements and many more areas.
Roof rats are nocturnal rodents, foraging for seeds, nuts and other foods at night and then hoarding them. These omnivorous pests eat fruits, plants, meats and even tree bark. They also feed on slugs, snails, American and brown cockroaches and shellfish.
The rats most often eat around dusk and dawn but continue to search for food throughout the night. They forage in groups and frequent the same paths to food once they’ve found them. Their teeth allow them to chew through drywall and wood to get inside a building where they’ve smelled food.
Indoors, crumbs and unsealed pantry items make easy food sources. Even foods in plastic containers aren’t always safe: these rats can chew through surprisingly durable materials to access food or shelter. Pet food left out on the floor overnight is another target for these rodents.
In addition to foraging in groups, roof rats usually live in colonies in the upper sections of buildings. You might notice their droppings in crawl spaces and around attic vents. A colony of roof rats will be made up of adult males and females as well as their young. Mainly, the adults will forage for food and bring it back to the nest.
The average lifespan of a rat of this species is about one year. A female can produce forty offspring within that year, breeding year-round and causing infestations to grow quite quickly.
Roof rats thrive during cool nights but they’ll still seek indoor shelter during the colder months. Limited outdoor food after the harvest also drives them inside buildings. The strongest attraction, however, is accessible food. Carpets with hidden crumbs and sinks full of dirty dishes can provide these skilled climbers with food for their nest. Bowls of nuts, unclosed chip bags and other snacks are easy for rats to get into.
Roof rats are experts at getting into houses. Their climbing skills means they can use tree limbs, power lines and shingles to squeeze through holes in the exterior walls of your house. The best way to control roof rats and other rodents is to call the professionals at Aptive to begin a customized pest control plan.
You can help prevent rats from getting inside, in the first place, by cleaning thoroughly and often. Follow these tips to avoid attracting rats to your house:
Keep piles of landscaping material away from your home and trim away tree branches near your roof.
Seal the entry points of cables and pipes in your exterior walls and stuff holes with steel or wool mesh.
Clean and declutter your garage to discourage rats who enter from building nests there.
Vacuum and sweep regularly to remove rats’ indoor food sources.
Call your local Aptive branch to discuss a roof rat control plan.
Roof rat infestations can quickly grow to be too large for a homeowner to handle alone. Don’t worry about trapping rats or storing baits in your home. Call Aptive Environmental for professional rodent control services. We use eco-friendly, pet-friendly methods to remove roof rats and many other pests.