Description of the Roof Rat
- Thin, slender body, pointed nose
- 6-12 ounces, smaller than Norway Rat
- 6-8 inches
- 7-10 inches, longer than body
- Black to brownish-gray
- Large & prominent eyes; color blind
- Relatively small, close to body
- 5 to 18 months
- ½ inch long with pointed ends, dark color, scattered
About Roof Rats
Roof rats are the smaller of the commensal rats and are more common in urban areas, especially seaports. Like other rats, the roof rat causes damage by gnawing and contaminating stored food. As a carrier of disease, it too poses a threat to human health. They are thought to be of southeast Asian origin and have a worldwide distribution. They can be found in the United States, including South Carolina, especially Columbia and Charleston.
Roof rats reach sexual maturity in 2-5 months with pregnancy lasting an average of 22 days. They average 4-6 litters per year with each one containing an average of 6-8 young. Adults live 9-12 months on average. Roof rats are color blind and their vision is poor but their sense of hearing, smell, touch, and taste are highly developed. They are good runners, excellent climbers and jumpers, and if forced, good swimmers.
Historically, bubonic plague has been associated with the roof rat and its fleas, which move from infested rats to man. Plague has not been found in rats in the United States for many years. However, plague is found in the wild rodents in several southwestern states and transmission to humans via infected fleas does occasionally occur.
Habitat of the roof rat
Roof rats prefer to locate in clusters in aerial areas or in the upper regions of structures. When found indoors, roof rats tend to follow the same route or pathway between their harborage and food and/or water sources. Runways along vertical surfaces will usually include dark rub or swing marks on the vertical surface where their fur makes contact. Their runways will be free of debris, and outdoors, the grass will be worn away to the bare soil.
Signs of infestations include:
- Gnaw marks
- Tracks / Footprints
- Rub marks
- Damaged goods