“We really don’t have a rodent problem here in Arizona,” said one Maricopa County homeowner. For the most part, she’s right. We have deer mice and house mice. They don’t cause a lot of problems. But one of the Arizona rodents causing extensive damages are roof rats.
Roof Rats the Arizona Rodents We Seldom Suspect
Roof rats are sometimes called “black rats” or “ships’ rats.” They like high places like roofs and attics. Once they find shelter in your home, they chew through building materials, causing extensive damage.
Roof rats can contaminate food storage and carry dangerous diseases. Their droppings and urine are health risks. Most of us don’t know to look for roof rats, so they can cause extensive damage before we’re aware.
About Roof Rats
- Colors – Brown/black with gray/white/black underside
- Shape – Long/thin; tails are scaly and ears/eyes are large and noses are pointed
- Size – About 6″-8″ body length with about 6″-8″ tail
- Usually found -U.S. Coastal states; Southern states
- Weight – Between 5-9 ounces but some can weigh nearly 1 pound
Signs You May Have a Roof Rat Infestation
The biggest red flag is seeing a roof rat, dead or alive. The droppings are about a half-inch in size with pointed ends. If you find droppings, leave them and call your local pest control company.
If you remove them, be sure to study them before disposal. You need to tell your pest control professionals if they are:
- Dried/hard – Indicates prior activity
- Moist/soft – Indicates an active infestation
Other signs of Arizona rodents and/or roof rats’ infestations include:
- Damaged electrical wiring
- Gnaw marks
- Nests – Nests can be found in darker, more secluded spaces. Roof rats prefer shredded paper, insulation, fabrics and more for nests. If you see potential nest materials scattered around in your home, that could be a sign of infestation.
- “Scratching” or scurrying sounds in the attic or behind walls/ceiling
- Tracks – You might see oily or dirty marks on walls or floorboards. These can be signs of roof rat activity.
Your Home May Have Roof Rats: Now What?
Prevention is the best cure. You can stop Arizona rodents and other unwanted visitors) from making your home their home:
- Be sure attic ventilation is adequate.
- Don’t store grocery bags or cardboard boxes without checking for signs of Arizona rodents or pests.
- Eliminate outside water sources, like leaky sprinkler heads or faucets.
- If you have fruit trees, keep ground fruit picked up.
- Keep outside garbage containers tightly closed.
- Put pantry foods in closed containers.
- Put screens on all vents to the outside.
- Seal all cracks or holes that access the house interior, especially where pipes and wiring travels.
- Stack firewood 20´ or more from the house.
- Store pet food in closed containers.
- Trim back trees and shrubs that touch the house.
- Use window screens.
Professional Pest Control Saves Time and Money
Rat and mice removals are dangerous DIY (do-it-yourself) projects. If you place traps, undamaged areas may get damaged as the rats try to chew their way to the bait. That’s only one reason you need professional roof rat infestation management.
Disease and cross-contamination risks are high with any kind of pest infestation. You can inhale air contaminated with urine and feces. Working in an infested area has infection risks. RBF (rat-bite fever) can be transmitted to you or your family members from contact with roof rats.
DIY roof rat removal is usually a temporary fix. Professional pest management companies offer long-term solutions.
When homeowners attempt DIY pest removal, they do it to save money. After a lot of time and expense, it’s frustrating to learn:
- The removal items you used were costlier than you anticipated.
- The roof rats either never left or quickly returned.
- You need professional pest control anyway, so you spent more; not less.