Of all rodents, rats are universally disliked. Unlike mice or chipmunks, rats have the worst reputation for good reasons. They are destructive and carry parasites and diseases that can be passed on to people and pets. When you hear a rat on the roof, it’s time to spring into action quickly, as these multiply fast.

Roof rats in the attic fit into tight spaces, entering attics through vulnerable gaps in the roof and soffits. They love attics because they are dark, warm, and mostly undisturbed places. Within a home, they have a reliable source of food and water, are out of bad weather, and can safely create a nest in which to raise their babies.

Despite remaining out of sight and avoiding contact with humans, rats still leave signs indicating their presence within the home.

Signs of Roof Rats in Your Attic

Some signs that you have roof rats in the attic are more readily apparent than others. Here’s what to look out for:

  • Scurrying or scratching sounds coming from your attic at night.
  • Roof rat droppings not only in your attic but on kitchen counters, in your pantry, or along baseboards where rats travel from the attic to access food and water.
  • Gnaw marks on wood beams, wires, and other structural objects.
  • Greasy smudges along baseboards or walls where roof rats navigate from one area to another.
  • A musty odor made by rat urine. Rats urinate often and everywhere.
  • Finding torn insulation, cardboard, and other materials used to build their nest.
  • Seeing an actual rat either in your attic or as it is traveling.

Roof Rat Droppings

Like many rodents, roof rat droppings look like small, dark capsules with tapered edges scattered wherever these rodents have traveled. They will most likely be found near nesting sites, food sources, and along their pathways. If you have roof rats in the attic, check for an accumulation of roof rat poop in dark corners, on insulation, and on the tops of beams and boxes of stored items.

Roof Rat Nests

Roof rats build nests that serve as a place for them to sleep, give birth, leave babies while they are out scavenging food, and as a place to store the scavenged food.

Nests look much like woven balls and look similar to bird nests. They use whatever soft materials they can find. In an attic, they are often made from shreds of insulation, torn-up paper, cardboard, and cloth.

Roof rats look for warm, secluded spots to build and maintain their nests. You’ll often find them in a corner of the attic or up on a rafter.

Roof Rat Sounds

As roof rats are nocturnal, you’re probably most likely to hear sounds at night that include:

  • Roof rats make high-pitched chirps and squeaks to communicate with other rats or when they feel threatened.
  • Scurrying and scratching noises as their feet move along surfaces such as floors and rafters or when they are building their nest. Even though these sounds are soft, they can be heard at night when all is still.
  • Roof rats gnaw at wood and wires to maintain their teeth. Because rat teeth continue to grow throughout their lives, they need to gnaw to keep them at a manageable length.
  • If they are tearing insulation and pieces of cardboard when building their nest and when they are in your drawers or pantry, you may hear the sound of objects moving as they rustle through things.

Why Roof Rats Are Harmful

Roof rats can pose serious threats to both your property and health. The level of property damage depends on the size and extent of the infestation, and homeowners who suspect an infestation should take action quickly to limit the threats roof rats pose.

Health Issues

Roof rats carry both parasites and diseases that can be transmitted to you and your family through their feces, urine, nesting materials, and the contamination of food. Parasites include ticks, fleas, and mites. The Centers for Disease Control lists about a dozen diseases that can be contracted from roof rats, including Hantavirus, Leptospirosis, Typhus, and Monkeypox.

Property Damage

Roof rats can cause serious and costly damage to rafters, insulation, wiring, and more. And the damage increases exponentially as they reproduce and grow in numbers. The damage they cause to wiring can also be a fire hazard.

Damage caused by roof rats can also decrease the value of your home, leaving a homeowner with costly repairs to attract buyers. It’s especially important to clear up any sanitation issues caused by a previous infestation.

How Roof Rats Got Into the Attic

Roof rats got their name from their ability to climb and live in elevated areas such as trees and vine-covered fences. Their long tail provides them with supreme balance skills, and they can easily walk across utility lines and tree limbs to hop onto rooftops. Once there, they take advantage of any gaps or worn areas where they can chew their way inside.

What to Do if Rats Are in the Attic

Because roof rats are so destructive and reproduce quickly, it is best to call a professional rat removal service. It is the one sure way to know that the entire infestation has been removed.

Critter Control’s rat removal service is ideal because, in addition to your free inspection, their services include removal, exclusion, and damage repair. Recognized as an industry leader, their technicians are expertly trained in getting and keeping rats out. Call (800) 274-8837 to schedule your free inspection.

How to Keep Roof Rats Out of the Attic

Keeping roof rats out of your attic requires diligence and putting preventive measures into place. Here are some things you can do to minimize your exposure and lessen the chances of an infestation:

  • Monitor your home and yard for signs of rodent activity, such as droppings, gnaw marks, and strange noises coming from the attic.
  • Keep the trees, vines, and shrubs around your home trimmed so as not to provide easy access for rats on the roof. Some people install tree guards to prevent them from climbing onto your roof from the trees nearest to your house.
  • Store firewood and lumber at least 100 feet away from your home.
  • Keep your yard free from natural debris and stored items to eliminate hiding spots and nesting areas.
  • Keep your roof, eaves, and soffits in good condition. Add mesh or covers to vents. Seal cracks and gaps with caulk or metal flashing. Make sure there are seals where utilities enter your home.

When you have your free inspection, ask your Critter Control technician about exclusion services that can help you guard against roof rats entering your home. Critter Control will develop a plan specific to your property for deterring an infestation.

Since roof rats are smaller than other rat species and are active while you are asleep, their presence can unfortunately go unnoticed. That’s why exclusion is an essential and proactive pest management strategy for preventing another infestation from occurring.

Get them out.
Keep them out.®

Experiencing a wildlife or pest issue? We can help! Complete this form and your local Critter Control® office will contact you to assist.

Best Wildlife Removal Company