ABOUT THE ROOF RAT
Roof rats can signal major problems for Bensalem area homes and businesses. A pest control professional is always the best option when roof rats, their droppings or telltale gnaw marks are found.
Roof rats are between 13 and 18 inches long when measured from their nose to the tip of their tail. Weighing in at approximately five to nine ounces, this species is slender and agile. Fur is smooth and typically gray to black while their underbellies are lighter. Large ears and eyes, along with a pointed nose, also help to identify roof rats.
As omnivores, roof rats may consume nearly anything. Fruit is a favorite, with citrus being the most preferred, but the roof rat is not picky. Seeds, nuts, vegetables and plant matter are frequently consumed. Tree bark will do if nothing else is available. Additionally, bird seed if often targeted, whether outdoors, in a feeder, or stored in a bag indoors. Likewise, roof rats will also access pet food whether it is left overnight outdoors, or by gnawing through a bag of food inside the house.
More unusual food items include lizards, insects and animal hides. Candle wax may be consumed, and rats will ingest soap and paper.
Roof rats prefer to live high off the ground, which is where their name comes from. They are typically found in trees and hedges, though they may be spotted moving across power lines. When they venture indoors, they gravitate toward the higher parts of the structure such as attics or false ceilings. This does not mean that they are never found under buildings or nesting alongside a structure. As adept climbers, roof rats can negotiate wires, cables and slender tree branches. It is not unusual for them to travel up to 300 feet from their nest when searching for food. Where one roof rat is spotted, it is likely that a colony is nearby. These are not solitary creatures, which means that seeing one rat may be an indication of a larger issue.
PROBLEMS WITH ROOF RATS
Roof rats cause damage to homes and businesses. This is mostly accomplished through aggressive chewing. Some infestations undermine the foundations of roads and buildings. The presence of roof rats is frequently indicated through the presence of gnaw marks on door frames and upholstery. Rats also may gnaw through electrical wires, and neither plastic nor lead pipes are impervious to their teeth.
The problems with roof rats do not end with damage to structures as they can also be extremely harmful to human and pet health.
Roof rats are nocturnal creatures that begin their quest for food around sunset. When a reliable food source is discovered, they will travel back to it repeatedly. The rats are known to create a cache by taking food from its source and storing it in a safe place before eating. Caches of food may be found in an attic or hidden behind cardboard cartons in a garage.
This species tends to avoid human contact as much as possible. They are known to fear changes to their environment, and likely unnerved by anything new or unusual. Roof rats are known to reproduce quickly and in great numbers. Birth occurs just 21 days after conception, with newborns beginning to eat solid foods at three weeks of age. By three months of age, the litter of between five and eight offspring is reproductively mature. This aggressive reproductive behavior is one of the factors that makes the roof rat population difficult to control.
Diseases like jaundice, rat-bite fever and typhus are all carried by rats. Rats are most infamously known for carrying bubonic plague, though this disease is rarely transmitted to humans today. Rats may spread diseases by contaminating human food with their feces or urine. A bite from a rat may transmit a serious illness. Even a flea that bites an infected rat may become a danger when it bites a pet or a human.
Roof rats can carry and transmit other diseases. Trichinosis is sometimes contracted after a person eats the undercooked meat of an animal that has fed on an infected rat. The larvae of parasitic roundworms enter the human's system, only to cause severe abdominal discomfort. Secretions of urine or saliva from rats may transmit rat-bite fever, which can prove to be fatal if left untreated. People who inhale droppings, urine or saliva of infected rats may develop hantavirus pulmonary syndrome.
SIGNS OF A ROOF RAT INFESTATION
Below are some general signs of a roof rat infestation:
• Rat droppings
• Unexplained noises in attics and walls
• Damage to electrical wires and cables
• Gnaw marks on eaves and doorframes
At SafeGuard Pest Control, we advise Bensalem business owners and homeowners to take the following measures in helping to prevent problems with the roof rat:
• Eliminate gaps, holes and cracks that are larger than a nickel by filling with caulk
• Larger holes should be screened
• Secure pet doors, window screens and vents each night
• Do not allow shrubs and bushes to become overgrown as they may provide cover for roof rats
• Keep tree branches six feet away from roofs
• Remove dead leaves and yard debris promptly
• Do not allow fallen fruit to remain on the ground
• Take pet food in at night
ROOF RAT CONTROL
Given that roof rats are sensitive to even the slightest changes to their environment, they can be especially difficult to locate and eliminate. That is why it is particularly vital for home and business owners to get professional assistance.