What are roof rats?
First of all, you need to know what roof rats are. It is important to know what kind of rats you are dealing with in order to deal with them effectively. Roof rats are known as black rats for good reason - they are black with smooth fur and long tails, They are also known as ship rats. Roof rats are smaller than some other rats and grow up to 18inches (including their tail) and can weigh up to 9oz.
Roof rats are different to other rats in their diet. They are not usually drawn to meat scraps but eat a diet closer to a squirrel, consisting of nuts and fruits, but will eat almost anything if pushed to it. Roof rats are natural hoarders and will hide food for the future. They also need water to survive and will chew through pipes, both plastic and metal, to get to it. Roof rats reproduce very quickly, with a single female rat giving birth to up to 24 babies in a single year. This means your rat problem can multiple very quickly if it is not dealt with quickly and properly.
Why are roof rats dangerous?
Roof rats can cause a lot of damage to your health, the health of your pets, and to the health of your building.
Roof rats can be aggressive when threatened and can bite or scratch. A bit from a rat can be very dangerous to a human as roof rats can carry diseases. Beyond a cut or scrape, you can have nausea, headache, fever, vomiting, and muscle pain from being bitten by a rat. Beyond this, roof rat droppings and urine can also make humans very sick. All of these illnesses humans can get can also apply to family pets if they come into contact with roof rats. You need to take care of this pest problem as soon as possible to protect your family and pets. They also attract predators and other pests that can harm your family such as snakes.
Roof rats can also cause serious damage to your house. Droppings and urine can cause damage to wood parts of your house causing it to rot and need replacing. Nesting rats can cause damage to your insulation, tearing it and making it less efficient. This can cost you significant money to replace, or more in heating if you do not repair it. The most serious damage to your plastic and metal piping. Roof rats can gnaw through both types of pipe and this can cause serious leaks and water damage. They can also chew through electrical wiring, which can cut off electricity to your house and damage your devices.
How can you get rid of roof rats?
There are a few ways you can get rid of your roof rat problem. The best ways are by baiting or setting traps. Both of these can be very effective and can be done economically.
Baiting involves laying rodenticide down for the rats to eat which will poison them and kill them. This can be very effective but is not the best choice for dealing with roof rats. This is because although the rats will likely die from the poison they will still be inside your house, and you cannot control where they go to die. This leads to rat carcasses being left in your house in places you do not know or cannot reach. You do not want this in your house as the carcasses can rot and cause further health and building damage. Only use baiting when the rats are outside of your house or you can regularly check for dead rats. Keep in mind interrupting the rats often will stop them eating the poison.
Trapping is the best way to get rid of roof rats. This can also include using bait but it also captures the rat, making sure they do not wander away to die. You can also use other traps to kill your roof rats.
Conventional snap traps can be effective - these are like the classic mouse trap with a metal bar that kills the rat. This can work, but each trap can only kill one rat before needing to be reset, so this is not the best option. Modern electronic rat traps are a good option. These kill rats with an electrical jolt, and can be used many times. These are only suitable for inside use when there is no risk of other animals being caught.
Electrical traps are also more hygienic as there is no blood from the rat. Yet another option to try is glue traps, which catch rats that run across the trap using glue. This can let you remove the rat and release it elsewhere if you wish to as it will not kill the rat. A final option is using ultrasound devices that deter rats from entering or using an area.
What is the best way to get rid of roof rats?
Of the options above, the best way to get rid of roof rats is using traps, and specifically electronic rat traps.
These will kill rats quickly and humanely, as well as doing it in the most hygienic way that prevents the rats dying in undesirable places. You will need a number of these traps to stop your roof rat problem, but as these traps are reusable this can be seen as an investment. It is also much cheaper than medical care for your family or pets, and cheaper than costly building repairs roof rats can cause.
Electronic rat traps are the best way to get rid of roof rats, with other trapping methods being the second choice. Baiting is not appropriate for these pests.
How do roof rats get in your home?
Roof rats can get into your home through a number of ways. Rats can be very determined and can squeeze through very small holes. Any cracks in your building can attract roof rats, especially gaps in your roofing shingle. Any damaged vent covers can also be an entry point for roof rats. Rats are attracted by easy food or mess like grease. Rats look for warm dark spaces to hide from predators, and roofs can be the ideal place for this. Rats are also attracted by other rats, so one rat can quickly become dozens. Rats are excellent climbers and can access houses from power lines or vines on your house.
How can you tell you have roof rats?
There are a number of ways to tell you have roof rats. Droppings are an obvious sign, both seeing them and smelling them. Chew marks on any wood, plastic, or metal can also tell you rats have been in your house. Any water pipe issues or leaking can also be caused by rats so be on the look out for this. You can also hear rats moving, gnawing, or eating so if you hear anything like this make sure you investigate thoroughly.
How can you keep rats out?
The best way to keep roof rats out is to keep your building secure and clean. Repair or cover up any damages such as vent covers or roof tile damage to stop rats getting in. Rats can still get in despite your best efforts, so make sure you know how to take care of them if they do. You should also take good care of your garden, especially plants that touch or are near to your house. Roof rats are attracted by the cover of thick plants, and can climb plants very well to get inside. Keeping your garden well maintained will keep them away and make your house less attractive to rats. You should also keep your house clean, and especially keep all foods and animal feed secure.
Roofs rats can be a real problem for householders but you can get rid of them without calling professional pest control. Make sure you act quickly and use plenty of traps of your choice to catch as many rats as you can. Baiting is an option, but it can take up to ten days for the poison to kill a rat, so this is not the fastest way to deal with them. You also run the risk of them dying somewhere you cannot retrieve them, and this can cause further problems.
Deal with roof rats quickly and efficiently by using traps, ideally electronic traps as they are the most effective and hygienic. This is how to get rid of roof rats most effectively. Be thorough, be careful, and soon all your roof rat problems will be gone.