It's a nice cold winter evening and you are snuggled under your bedding when you hear the dreaded scratching and chewing sounds coming from above. Your house has roof rats! 

The good news is that by understanding a bit about roof rat biology, and behavior, you will be able to rid your home of these nasty rodents - once and for all.

Roof Rat Identification

Roof rats are between twelve and eighteen inches in length. They are typically either black or gray in color, but can sometimes contain white fur, due to crossbreeding with other rat species.

Roof rats are a non-native species of rodent that came to the United States from Asia. The rats traveled on cargo ships and quickly repopulated here in America where they found tasty food and water readily available.

Roof Rat Habitat and Behavior

Roof rats are afraid of noise, lights, and new objects, so they prefer to nest in attic spaces, and under vegetation, where they can be hidden from sight. Roof rats are nocturnal, so they spend most of the daylight hours sleeping. Once evening time comes, then the rats come out of their nests to look for food. To travel from one location to another, the rats run along electrical lines and fences.

Roof Rat Dangers

Roof rats are a danger to people and property. Roof rats, and their fleas, carry diseases that can make humans sick. Additionally, roof rats can cause damage to insulation, electrical wiring, and vegetation. For these reasons, roof rats must be killed when they are found in your home.

Roof Rat Control and Eradication

The best way to deal with a roof rat infestation in your home is to use a multi-pronged approach. The eradication plan should include all of the following:

  • snap traps, or glue traps, at entrances to attic space
  • chemical treatment of the area
  • installation of rat guards on each telephone, or electrical, line
  • removal of food, water and vegetation sources.

In addition to the above, cats are a natural predator of rodents. If you do not have a cat of your own, then you might consider pet sitting a friend's cat in your home. Cats have sensitive hearing and will sit, and stare, at areas of a wall where they hear rodents moving around.


In order to get back to long nights of peaceful sleep, you will need to call a pest control company and have them come out to help you with your roof rat problem. The pest control technician from a site like can identify the most likely habitat areas on your property. They can also give you expert advice on how to keep the roof rats out of the house in the future.