ROOFRAT.NET * How to best indentify and control roof rats
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FAQ with good answers

FEQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT ROOF RATS

What are common signs of roof rat activity?
  • Visual sightings on power lines, trees, bushes, patios, etc.
  • Hollowed citrus and other fruit
  • Rat droppings
  • Noises in the attic and walls
  • Gnawing sounds and gnaw marks around roof eaves
  • Damage to plastics and coverings on electrical wires
  • Unsettled pets

What should I do if I see evidence on my property?

  • Call the Maricopa County Environmental Complaint Line at (602) 506-6616
    or log your complaint at www.maricopa.gov/envsvc. Vector Control officers
    identify and test rat specimens throughout Maricopa County.

How should I handle dead rats, rat droppings and nesting areas?

  • Use rubber gloves and wear a face mask.
  • Ventilate the affected area the night before cleanup by opening doors and
    windows.
  • Spray dead rats, droppings, nests and surrounding areas with a 10 percent
    bleach solution (one part bleach and nine parts water). Allow at least 15
    minutes before removing.
  • Clean the affected area with paper towels or a mop. DO NOT SWEEP OR
    VACUUM. Double bag both the disinfectant-soaked rat and cleanup
    materials securely in plastic bags and seal. Dispose in city trash containers.
  • Before removing gloves, wash in disinfectant, then soap and water.
  • Dispose of gloves with other household waste. Thoroughly wash hands with soap and water.

Where have roof rats been found?

  • They have been found in swimming pools, laundry rooms, attics, garages and
    patios. They’ve been seen on power lines in the alleys. Roof rats spend 90
    percent of their life 4 feet or more off the ground.

When do they travel?

  • During twilight and nighttime hours in a territory 200 to 300 feet from their
    daytime nesting locations. They thrive in cool weather and are most active
    from November through May.

How do they travel?

  • Roof rats are strongly arboreal and travel along power lines to trees,
    oleanders, vines and roofs. They can climb up brick walls and other rough
    surfaces. They can jump 2 feet up and 4 feet horizontally (double the
    horizontal distance if they are jumping from a height). Ground covers and
    compost bins also provide safe travel routes and nests.

How do they enter homes?

  • They enter homes and garden sheds through any opening larger than a nickel. They follow pipes down from the attic, gnaw through drywall and enter the
    kitchen or base sink cabinets. They chew through wood, plastic, aluminum
    siding, sheet rock and soft metals.

Why attics?

  • These rodents are fond of attics because they provide a safe refuge, a nesting
    place for their young and routes into the home below.

What do they eat and drink?

  • They love to eat citrus fruit (because it serves as both a food and water source) and other fruit (pomegranates, figs, etc.), nuts, seeds and stored grains, and vegetables in your garden. They also eat insects, lizards, tree bark, soap, paper, hides, and beeswax.
  • Bird seed (both in feeders and stored in bags) and dog and cat food left
    outside after dark are favorites. Roof rats eat Queen Palm tree fruits in the
    summer when citrus isn’t available.
  • Water sources include leaky faucets and sprinkler heads, bird baths, fountains
    and ornamental ponds, irrigation, air conditioner condensation drip lines,
    saucers under potted plants, and pet water dishes. They will chew through
    metal and plastic pipes to reach water.

How do I seal my home?

  • The most extensive damage occurs when roof rats enter the home, so the first
    goal is to keep them out.
  • Use stucco diamond mesh to screen and seal all holes and vents leading into
    your home or garden shed. It cuts and molds very easily. For the rat, this
    mesh is like biting into small razor blades.
  • Look for holes in exterior walls and near hot water heaters, washers and
    dryers, dishwashers, and under sinks. Don’t forget to screen sewer stacks on
    the roof.
  • Caulk all cracks.
  • Stuff the cover of the air conditioning line that runs from the outside unit into
    the attic with steel wool or copper mesh to prevent rats from climbing up the
    insulated pipe inside the cover. Look for scratch marks on the insulation, and
    then set a snap trap to catch them the next time they use that entrance.

Do roof rats carry disease?

  • Roof rats throughout Maricopa County continue to test negative for tularemia
    (rabbit fever), hantavirus and plague.

 

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