Nobody wants a roof rat infestation in their home. From damaged goods to just the thought of these pests running around your home, many people shudder at the thought of rats.

    If you suspect a rat infestation in your home or know you have rats, it’s important to handle the situation and get rid of them promptly.

    Luckily, there are ways to handle rats in both minor and severe infestations, both of which I learned about first-hand as a professional technician for one of the country’s largest pest control companies. To learn more about roof rats and how to get rid of them, keep reading.

    What Exactly Is a Roof Rat?

    Roof rats, otherwise commonly known as the black rat, are pesky creatures that are known to invade homes. These rats are typically brown or black in color and are about six inches long on average. While some keep roof rats as pets, they often cause trouble when they infiltrate a home. Roof rats can also cause damage to your lawn and garden as well.

    Roof rats can cause serious damage to your home and can be hard to control once the problem becomes serious. From damaged electrical wires, insulation, furniture, boxes, walls, and more, there isn’t much roof rats won’t get into. Additionally, these rats can carry diseases, which can be dangerous if the rats get into any food stored within your home.

    How Can I Tell If I Have Roof Rats?

    Outside of seeing a rat with your own eyes, some common signs of roof rats in your home include smells, droppings, sounds, and roof damage. The smell of urine can become extremely strong if there is a serious infestation of rats. 

    You may also notice small droppings around your home as well as sounds, such as scratching or scampering noises coming from your ceiling or walls. Rats may also cause damage, so if you notice chewed walls, furniture, or holes, you may have a rat infestation.

    Some specific signs to look for include:

    • Chewed electrical wires with exposed copper
    • Greasy rub marks along walls and rafters from the rats’ fur brushing against surfaces
    • Holes gnawed into boxes, furniture, or drywall
    • Shredded paper, fabric, or insulation for nesting materials
    • Small black pellet droppings around attics, walls, and floors
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    Pay close attention in kitchen and bathroom cabinets, attics, wall voids, and other hidden spaces where rats may create nests and gain access to food sources. Listen for scratching or scurrying noises at night when the rats are most active.

    How Do I Prevent Roof Rats?

    If you want to avoid a roof rat infestation in the future, there are a few ways to prevent them from entering your home or lawn. 

    Some of the best preventative measures that I picked up over the years are:

    • Covering any openings (vents, windows, etc) with screens
    • Keeping food tightly sealed
    • Keeping your home clean and free of a buildup of trash or food
    • Sealing any holes with caulk

    Rats can crawl into extremely tight spaces and holes, so don’t underestimate any opening or hole within your home. Chances are, a rat can crawl through it.

    In addition to these measures, keeping up with your lawn can also prevent rats. Rats and other pests like overgrown lawns, as they can hide within the plants. You can also enclose or remove any water and food sources in your lawn. 

    Check out your local lawn care companies to learn more about how lawn upkeep can prevent pests.

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    Some specific lawn care tips include:

    • Clearing brush, leaves, and debris that provide cover
    • Installing gravel or stone mulch around the home’s perimeter
    • Keeping grass trimmed short
    • Removing any pet food or bird feeders at night

    Denying rats access, shelter, and food sources is key for preventing infestations. Be vigilant in inspecting your home’s exterior for gaps and sealing up entry points. Store human and pet food in chew-proof containers, and avoid leaving leftovers out overnight. With diligence, you can maintain a rat-free home.

    How Do I Get Rid of Roof Rats?

    There are a few ways to get rid of roof rats in your home. To learn more about dealing with these pests successfully, as well as how to choose the best products for combating them, keep reading below.

    Rat traps are one way you can get rid of rats on your own. While rat traps are a good do-it-yourself fix for rats, they can be difficult and dangerous to set up. 

    Some different types of rat traps include electric traps, glue traps, humane traps, metal traps, and snap traps.

    Depending on your preference, you can utilize these traps to catch and kill or catch and release the rats in your home. These traps can be placed inside or outside your home. Be careful when setting up traps, and read the instructions closely.

    Some tips for effective trapping include:

    1. Place traps along walls and rafters where rat activity is noticed
    2. Use peanut butter, chocolate, or bacon to bait the traps
    3. Set traps in a grid pattern to cover more ground
    4. Check traps daily and reset them as needed

    However, if the infestation is severe, traps may not be enough to stop the infestation. Multiple rats may trigger traps without being caught, or bait may be stolen without springing the trap.

    Rat bait, or rat poison, is another common way to get rid of rats in your home. This is a type of pesticide that kills rats once ingested. To use rat bait, you can install a physical rat bait station with the pesticide inside.

    Keep in mind rats may not be immediately attracted to the bait. It may take a day or two for the rats to approach and ingest any rat poison. Additionally, remove any other possible source of food for the rats, as they may just ignore the rat poison to opt for a tastier treat.

    Some tips for effective baiting include:

    1. Place bait blocks or soft bait packs in areas of high activity
    2. Check bait regularly and replace eaten bait immediately
    3. Use bait rotation to prevent bait shyness
    4. Follow all label safety precautions for indoor use

    Once the rats eat the poison and die, you can remove them. Be aware that rats may crawl into hard-to-reach places after ingesting poison, making full clean-up difficult.

    Professional Extermination

    If your rat infestation is too severe or you don’t want to deal with them yourself, you can always contact a professional exterminator or pest control company to identify and remove the rats for you. Prices for these services vary widely, so make sure to request quotes before choosing the first one you talk with.

    Professional rat exterminators have the knowledge and tools to fully eliminate infestations. They know how to pinpoint the sources, entryways, and locations of rats in your home. Once they determine these points, they will use humane or lethal methods to remove all rats on the premises.

    Benefits of hiring pros include:

    Advice to rat-proof your home
    Follow-up visits to ensure rats are gone
    Full inspection to find all rat entry points
    Strategic baiting and trapping techniques

    With severe rat problems, the pros have the manpower and products for complete control. They can target nests and stop the infestation at its source. Within 1 to 2 visits, your home will be free of rats.

    So, Is Getting Rid of Roof Rats Hard?

    Roof rats can be a nuisance, but with swift action, you can get rid of them and prevent future infestations. Traps, baits, and calling pest control pros are all effective options, depending on the extent of the rat problem.

    Focus on denying food, water, and shelter so rats have no reason to stick around your home. I also suggest reading up on DIY pest control techniques for dealing with roof rats naturally. With diligence and preventative measures, you can keep these pests from invading your space.

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    FAQs About Roof Rats

    How quickly can a rat infestation get out of control?

    Rats are prolific breeders, with females birthing five to six litters per year at six to twelve pups per litter. Populations can boom exponentially in just a few months if left uncontrolled.

    When are rats most active?

    Roof rats are nocturnal and most active at night as they search for food and water. Peak activity is two to three hours after sunset.

    What diseases can rats spread?

    Diseases associated with rats include salmonella, leptospirosis, hantavirus, and rat bite fever. They can also spread plague, typhus, and food poisoning.

    How long can a rat live?

    On average, a roof rat lives 12 to 18 months. Their lifespans are shortened by environmental hazards, predators, lack of food, and human control efforts.

    How much damage can a rat cause?

    A single rat can contaminate up to 55 lbs of food per year with urine and droppings. They gnaw through wood, wiring, pipes, and more, causing fires and water leaks.

    Editorial Contributors
    avatar for Jordan Tyler Quinn Farkas

    Jordan Tyler Quinn Farkas

    Expert Writer & Reviewer

    Jordan Tyler Quinn Farkas is a globetrotting content writer hailing from the USA. With a passion for pest control, he brings a unique perspective to his writing from his early years working for one of the largest pest control companies in America. Throughout his early 20s, Jordan gained valuable experience and knowledge in the field, tackling pest infestations head-on and ensuring the well-being of countless homes.

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    photo of Jeff Zoldy

    Jeff Zoldy

    Jeff is a writer, editor, and marketer based in Charlotte, North Carolina. He has been editing on the Home Solutions team for over a year and is passionate about getting homeowners the information they need when they need it most. When he’s not working, Jeff can be found at baseball games, golfing, going to the gym, reading, watching movies, and playing video games.

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