Rats living in your crawl space or walls? Disappearing pet food? Dead rats or rat dropping in your attic? These may well be signs of a rat infestation. Call your local Critter Control office today at 800 CRITTER for effective rodent cleanup, rat removal and exclusion services. Description Also known as black rats or ship rats, roof rats are Old World rodents that were probably brought to North America on accident by early shippers and traders. They currently live throughout the world, especially in warmer areas where the proximity of the ocean keeps the climate mild. Roof rats in the United States, for instance, tend to be concentrated in the Southeast, along the West Coast, and on the Hawaiian Islands. They are often regarded as one of the most serious pest mammals because of their ability to ruin stored grain, spread disease, and damage property. Appearance Combined, the head and body of the roof rat typically measures about 7 or 8 inches long, while the dark, scaly tail adds another 8 to 10 inches of length. Roof rats are usually dark brown or blackish in color, with a light-colored belly, a pointed snout, and large, furless ears that can be pulled over their eyes. Their fur is long and coarse, and their body weight generally ranges from 5 to 10 ounces (150 to 250 g). Habitat The aptly named roof rat mainly nests in attics, roofs, and similarly elevated places. As roof rats primarily feed on grains, seeds, fruits, and garbage, their presence is frequently associated with the existence of people and human activity. Roof rats live together in colonies and will readily breed indoors, where the potential for roof rat damage remains a notable concern. In addition to nesting in the upper levels of buildings, the destructive pests are often found in trees, sugarcane and citrus groves, and rice fields. Entry Are roof rats known to enter homes or yards? As their name implies, roof rats commonly gain entry to buildings through the roof. They often use overhead trees or utility lines to locate and access points of entry. Roof rat problems also occur when the pests invade yards to look for food. In suburban areas, residents frequently encounter roof rats feeding in garbage cans, dumpsters, and gardens. The presence of roof rats in the yard or garden does not always mean that the nest is located on the property, as these pests can travel as many as several hundred feet during a single night of foraging. Damage Do roof rats harm people or property? Arguably the most problematic of all pest animals, roof rats can destroy grain supplies, spread disease, and damage the attics and rooftops of buildings. They often invade attics in the winter and spring to escape the cold or to nest and raise their young. Roof rats are strong animals that can damage the shingles, fascia board, soffits, and vents of the structures they enter. Once inside, they commonly destroy insulation, ductwork, wiring, and drywall with their urine, feces, and constant gnawing. Water damage can also become a problem at the entry point. Control and Safety Roof rat safety should not be taken lightly, as the rodents are known to carry a variety of parasites and diseases that can be transmitted to pets and humans. Common diseases spread by roof rats include plague, typhus, rat-bite fever, jaundice, trichinosis, and salmonellosis. Effective roof rat control starts with good housekeeping and proper sanitation, which are designed to eliminate the sources of food and shelter that attract the pests in the first place. Trapping and Removal The certified wildlife specialists at Critter Control have the knowledge and tools to get rid of your roof rat problem. Our technicians use a variety of removal techniques to ensure a solution to your rodent issue. We offer roof rat trapping and roof rat removal services, in addition to advice on how to identify roof rats and the problems they cause, as well as prevent future roof rat damage.