Roof rats are similar to Norway rats but are more petite and delicate. They measure up to 40cm in length and vary in color from black to brown, resembling a typical rat in their general physique. Hence their name, roof rats usually enter homes through the roof. This is due to their preference for high altitudes. Because roof rats are small, they are able to easily enter the home through any hole as small as a dime, including existing holes and those that this crafty pest will chew itself. Without careful inspection and regular repair of external holes & cracks, homeowners have a challenge preventing infestations.
Once in the home, roof rats can wreak havoc with their incessant chewing and cause damage to electrical wires, furnishings, and insulation. Additionally, they carry health risks as transmitters of rat bite fever, salmonellosis, fleas, and other pathogens or parasites. In particular, rats are primary vectors of the bubonic plague, transmitted via fleas, and hantavirus pulmonary syndrome. All of these diseases can be contracted from rat bites, droppings and urine, contact, their fleas, and trace contamination where they’ve travelled in the home.
Signs of an infestation include rat sightings, droppings, and oily smudges mixed with fur where they travelled. Homeowners can help prevent a roof rat infestation by sealing off points of entry and trimming back tree branches from the roof. When prevention is not sufficient, it is critical to allow a professional to safety and effectively treat your home.