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Roof Rats: What to Know and How to Handle Them!

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Few things make Arizona homeowners shudder quite like the mention of roof rats. Roof rats have become a serious problem in Arizona, and over the past few years, cities like Mesa, Gilbert, and Chandler have been warning their residents about these rats, going out of their way to let people know the dangers they can cause. City organizations don’t do this for the average household pest.

Characteristics

Roof rats are about the same size as a regular rat, but they can be distinguished by their large ears and very long tail. They move quickly, climb trees and buildings like a squirrel would, and can cause incredible damage to a home. Roof rats will climb the side of your home and chew through drywall, plastic, wood, sheet rock, aluminum siding, and even soft metals in order to make a comfortable home in your attic. From there they will go through walls and pipes in order to get to your food in the kitchen.

Health Concerns

Not only are these pests unpleasant to discover in your home - but they can transmit dangerous diseases. Roof rats are the critters that spread the bubonic plague, and they’ve also been known to spread typhus. Thankfully,  the roof rats found in our area have been tested and there is no proof of these deadly diseases. Still, it's an unnecessary risk to take to let them roam your home. This is one of the main reasons to destroy any roof rat infestation once it’s discovered.

Where to Find Them

As their name implies, roof rats don’t run around dark basements like other rodents. Roof rats spend 90% of their lives 4 feet above the ground or higher, so they mostly make their homes in attics and trees. Some will settle in a garage or patio. Roof rats will also use power lines to move around a neighborhood so keep your eyes peeled!

Signs of an Infestation

It will usually be pretty obvious that you have a roof rat infestation. They rarely travel alone, and the average household with roof rats usually has between three and six rats living inside. These are clear signs that you have a roof rat infestation:

  • Fruits (especially citrus fruits) that fall from a tree outside are hollowed out
  • Noticeable damage to electrical wire covers
  • Rat droppings
  • Your pets are uncommonly anxious
  • Noises are coming from the walls and attic
  • Scratching and gnawing sounds and marks are heard and seen around roof eaves
  • You can see them on power lines, in trees and bushes, and around the patio area

Are you seeing signs of a roof rat infestation? Defense can help.

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Tips for Prevention

There are a few things you can do to make your home less susceptible to a roof rat infestation. These won’t guarantee that roof rats won’t come to your property, but they will make an infestation much less likely:

  • Do not leave pet food outside, especially at night
  • Pick up any fallen fruit (especially citrus fruit) once it falls to the ground
  • Close and tightly cover your trash cans outside
  • Replace broke screens with stucco diamond mesh - they won’t be able to chew through this material
  • Caulk any cracks on the exterior of your home
  • Fix any leaky faucets both inside and out, and be wary of birdbaths, air conditioner condensation drip lines, saucers under potted plants, sprinkler heads, and pet water dishes - roof rats will chew through both plastic and metal pipes to get to a water source
  • Prune trees back from your home at least 4 feet
  • Keep your yard clean and tidy
  • Keep wood at least a foot away from any wall and 18 inches above the ground

Long-Term Solutions

Taking preventative measures and trying some DIY methods to get rid of roof rats might help, but they won’t eliminate the problem. In order to exterminate a roof rat infestation, you will need to call an experienced exterminator. These pests will be crawling behind your walls, through your attic, and behind your kitchen cabinets.

This blog was written by Ryan Michel, Owner of Defense Pest Control

It will take professional equipment and years of experience to find and eradicate all of these pests, but once an exterminator is aware of the situation they will be able to save your family and home from the extensive damage they cause. If you have a roof rat infestation, or think they might be moving into your neighborhood, give us a call at 480-354-3500!

Don't lose sleep over roof rats - call Defense Pest Control today!

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