Roof Rats

There are three types of rats, Rattus rattus, R. norvegicus and R. exulans. The existence of Rattus rattus is found in almost 48 countries. R. norvegicus also known as Norway rats is more widely spread and so better known. R. exulans or Polynesian rat exists in Hawaiian. Rattus rattus refers to roof rats. Ship rat and black rat are its alternative names. They are named so because they were found on sailing ships. They are prime carriers of plague.

The roof rats are divided into three sub species. This sub division is on the basic of their fur color. First is the black rat. These kinds of rats are black and have a grey color belly. Second, comes the Alexandrine rat. These rats have an agouti back. They also have a gray belly. Third one is fruit rats. This kind of rats also has an agouti back but their bellies are white. Though they have variations in fur color but it is not always reliable to identify them on this basic. Cross breeding leads to more subspecies and thus it is not always distinct. However Roof Rats cannot cross with native rodents.

Roof Rats


Roof rats are found mainly in Gulf States following upward into the Arkanas. You may also find them along lower regions of East Coast. Pacific Coast and Hawaiian Island show some existence as well. The roof rats favor warm climate and are less adaptable in comparison to Norway rats, limiting their existence. Topical as well as semi tropical climate are best for its habitat. Isolated existence can be found in some parts of United States. However most of United States is free from roof rats.


Tress and vine covered fences are the best place for Roof Rats as they prefer aerial habitat. Parks having reservoirs or ponds also have a chance of being infested. Industrial areas and residential are ideal place for their habitat so is the riparian vegetation around stream and river banks. Citrus groves and sugar cane are driving force as well.

Their main access to buildings is from the roof or through utility lines. Norway rats inhabit the first floor of ware house where as roof rats are found on the second floor. After establishing themselves, it gets easy for them to breed and multiply in that building somewhat like Norway rats. They are also found in sewer though it is not common.

Food Habits

Roof rats and tree squirrel have similar food habitats. They like feeding on different kind of nuts and fruits. They also feed on different kinds of vegetative parts as well as native plant substances. They are omnivorous can feed on any type of food. They like to feed on food given to domestic animals like cats, cows, chicken, dogs and even cats. They also require water on a daily basis, most of which is met through their local diet.

General Information

Roof rats are colorblind and are based on their sense of smell, taste, hearing and touch. They can only differentiate different measure of darkness and lightness. Sense of smell helps them to identify their food and gives a sense of the route. Even they recognize rats of opposite sex through the sense of smell.

Sense of touch is also very important for rats. The guard hair all over the body and long whiskers placed near their nose act as sensors. It allows the rat to walk along the dark burrows and walls.

The rats use their tail for balance while walking along utility lines. They have a very swift motion, which helps them escape predators. Their ability to hear lets them detect danger and escape them.

Damage and prevention

In food industries all kinds of rats do the same type of damage. In case of residents where rats feed outdoor damage relates to broken insulation for nest or electrical wire gnawing. Rats who lives in kitchen feeds on normal food human exposure to which may lead to plague, food poisoning and other diseases. Food garbage and pet food can also be a very food source rat’s manifestation.

Before using rodent-proofing, one has to make sure that all the access are closed specially roof lines and roof. Any gap which is bigger than half inch of size should be sealed. Since roof rats have a better climbing capability rodent proofing will require more time. Terminating growth of vines and over hanging tree limb which rats use for introducing homes an also prevent roof rats.

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