Roof Rats

Rattus rattus
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What are roof rats? Roof rats - also called black rats or ship rats - are smaller than Norway rats, but cause similar issues. This rodent gets its name from its tendency to be found in the upper parts of buildings. The roof rat is thought to be of Southeast Asian origin, but is now found throughout the world, especially in tropical regions.

Pest Stats

Color

Brown with black intermixed; Gray, white or black underside

Legs

4

Shape

Long and thin with scaly tail; large ears and eyes

Size

16" total (6-8" body plus 6-8" tail)

Antennae

No

Region

Coastal states and the southern third of the U.S.

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Habits

Roof rats are primarily nocturnal. They forage for food in groups of up to ten and tend to return to the same food source time after time. These rats follow the same pathway between their nest and food.

Habitat

Roof rats live in colonies and prefer to nest in the upper parts of buildings. They can also be found under, in and around structures.

Threats

Roof rats secured their place in history by spreading the highly dangerous bubonic plague. Though transmission is rare today, there are still a handful of cases in the U.S. each year. Roof rats can also carry fleas and spread diseases such as typhus, jaundice, rat-bite fever, trichinosis and salmonellosis.