Rat infestations are always troublesome, but roof rats are amongst the most destructive. What is a roof rat? Also known as black rats, these critters like to inhabit high ground, so you’re most likely to find them in your attic, on upper floors, or even on top of cabinets.
The worst part about them? By the time you realize they’re there, the damage to your house and insulation can be profound and expensive to repair. That’s why learning to identify their signs is important. In this post, we’ll give you some infestation identification tips and explain how to get rid of roof rats.
How to Identify Roof Rats
How can you know that you have roof rats? Aside from actually spotting a few (a lot of homeowners install movement-activated cameras), these are the main signs:
Noise in the Attic
Noises at night are usually the first sign of a roof rat infestation. You’re less likely to run across roof rat droppings or to spot their chew marks, especially if they’ve made their home in your attic.
Most commonly, you’ll hear them moving around, which will sound like rustling, scratching, or scurrying. You might even be able to figure out their movement pattern based on where the noises come from.
Roof Rat Droppings
While we’re focused on the attic, the truth is that rats are adaptable and may choose to colonize other parts of your home. That’s why identifying roof rat droppings can be useful.
Their droppings are usually ½ an inch long, with an ovular shape. One end is often pinched, but the ends can also be blunt. You’ll usually find the droppings concentrated in specific areas, whereas mice tend to leave droppings everywhere.
Lastly, there’s the damage, which is worth identifying so you also know what needs repair. Chew and scratch marks are most common, but there’s also severe damage that can be caused by rat urine to insulation. Use both your sight and smell to uncover the damage!
Are Roof Rats Dangerous?
Black rats were the original carriers of the plague (or at least, their fleas were). Contrary to popular belief, that illness has not yet been eradicated! That said, today, rats are much more likely to carry the following dangers:
- Salmonella (which can contaminate your food)
- Rat-bite fever
- Murine typhus
The CDC is an excellent resource about these diseases and their repercussions.
How to Get Rid of Roof Rats
You know you have roof rats and you know you need them gone. How to get rid of roof rats, then? Here are the basics.
Deal With Their Entry Points
With any rodent infestation, start by understanding how they got inside in the first place. Rats can squeeze in through the tiniest holes!
With roof rats, the entry points are usually high up. Look for roof damage or gaps, accessible chimneys, and even windows. Both from the inside and the outside, you’ll need to identify any access point that’s larger than half an inch (for the sake of prevention, go even smaller to keep out the even tinier mice). Then, seal those gaps via repair, metal screens, or even steel wool.
Eliminate Their Food and Water
Aside from shelter, rats also come into your home seeking food and water. You’ll want to deal with any leaks that can provide them with water and clean or seal away all food, including your pantry items, leftovers on plates, and even pet food or trash cans.
Finally, the only way to really deal with rats is to trap them. Traps should be set for weeks at a time, and it may take a while for the rats to feel comfortable exploring the traps. We get into this in detail and give a lot of advice in our blog post on common rat-trapping mistakes.
Address the Damage
Once you’re certain you’ve trapped most roof rats, it’s time to deal with the damage. In particular, it’s important to decontaminate the space where you had the infestation since rat droppings can carry a lot of pathogens.
Additionally, you’ll want to assess damage to your insulation, pipes, and any other parts of your home’s infrastructure. If the damage is severe, calling professionals might be necessary.
At Green Rodent Restoration, we offer both rodent removal and repair. Attics are our specialty, so if you have a roof rat infestation, we can deal with it thoroughly! Our restoration services also include prevention and sealing, to guarantee an end to roof rat infestations for the long term.