Common Roof Rodents and How to Keep Them Out of Your Attic

Attic pests are a common nuisance for homeowners all over the country. Roof rats in particular make their way into homes, cause damage and pose health risks to you,  your family and your pets. Read for more information about roof rats, their habits, and most importantly,  what you should do if you suspect you have an infestation in your home.

What are common attic pests? 

Because attics are spaces that are generally not lived in that we use mainly to regulate home temperature and in some cases for storage (which we don’t recommend), it can often act as a perfect environment for unwanted pests to thrive. Some common pests that can plague your attic area are bats, squirrels, racoons, cluster flies, and our least favorite - rodents. Common rodents that will try to call your attic home are house mice, Norway rats, and roof rats. Roof rats are a particular nuisance that can infest homes and cause headaches for many homeowners. 

What does a roof rat look like?

Because they are so common in the United States, it is important to know what roof rats look like so you can easily identify them should you have an encounter of the rodent kind. These animals are about 40 centimeters long and weigh between 5-9 ounces, but can sometimes weigh as much as 12 ounces. Their bodies are long and thin, and feature large eyes, ears, and a pointed nose. Roof rats' tails are scaly and actually longer than their bodies. Their coloring is brown with an intermix of black and they often have white, gray and black undersides. 

What are the habits of roof rats? 

Roof rats are exceptionally talented climbers and prefer nesting in the upper part of buildings, which is why they are common attic pests. Here’s a fun fact: their ability to climb to great heights is how they acquired the name “roof rat”. 

These animals are primarily nocturnal and typically live in colonies preferring habitats that are covered to protect them from predators. When they shelter outside, they prefer dense vegetation like fruit trees, shrubbery, and can commonly be found in wood piles or storage boxes that are left outside. When they shelter inside, roof rats are able to enter through access points that are larger than a nickel and can be found in the upper parts of the home. If they get into your home, they are able to build nests out of materials like insulation.

In a not so fun fact: these rodents only live up to about a year, but are able to produce as many as 40 new offspring during their lifetime. If you have a roof rat infestation in your home, this can cause a nightmare scenario. 

What are common signs of roof rats? 

If you have roof rats in your home, there will be indications of their presence disrupting the tranquility of your home. The biggest signs of roof rats manifest in the form of noise, damage to elements in your home, and rodent droppings around the infected area.

Because they are nocturnal, roof rats will search for food at night and you will hear scurrying, squeaking and other out of the ordinary sounds coming from areas of your home. The presence of rats may also disturb any pets you have in your home, so if they begin acting strange while you are noticing some of the other signs you may have a rodent problem on your hands. 

Another very common but unfortunate sign of roof rats is damage to your home in the form of bite marks on your pipes or wires and tears to your insulation. The presence of roof rats can also contribute to mold growth and overall poor conditions in your attic. This can cause wood decay and damage to the HVAC system which is an expensive blow to your bank account. 

Are roof rats harmful?

We discussed the damage that roof rats can cause your home, but they can also harm your family’s health. Rats have become infamous for their role in causing the bubonic plague back in the day, giving us a healthy, reasonable fear of them. As their reputations indicate, they do carry diseases that are harmful to human beings. 

Some of the diseases that can result from a roof rat infestation include: toxoplasmosis, histoplasmosis, encephalitis, meningitis, salmonella, hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, and murine typus and leptospirosis. Additionally, when inhaled, rodent droppings and urine can cause sinus inflammation and asthma due to the allergens they contain. 

If you have a direct altercation with a rat in the form of a bite or scratch it can cause what is known as rat bite fever. This sickness can specifically cause fever, vomiting, sore throat, muscle pain, joint pain, and a rash. 

Because of how dangerous roof rats can be to your health, you should never attempt attic clean up and decontamination on your own. Only trained professionals in protective gear should handle the situation to ensure the safety of everyone involved.

What do I do if I have a roof rat infestation?  

If you think you have an infestation, you will want to eliminate the roof rats as soon as possible so they cause no further damage to your home or impact the health of your family. You should call a professional like Attic Construction immediately so an inspection can be completed. When it comes to rodent infestations, because of the damage they can cause and the health risks they pose, you should take a better safe than sorry approach to the situation.

If you do indeed have roof rats, rodent proofing and attic decontamination services are a solution to all of your pest woes. It removes the contaminated elements of the infected area and introduces solutions to prevent further infestations by sealing up entry points and eliminating odor. 

Something we do recommend to homeowners is to be proactive and look into rodent proofing services before an infestation erupts to avoid the headache and damage one can cause. 

What does the rodent decontamination process look like? 

Every case is different and professionals are able to tailor their services to meet the individual needs of each situation. However, there are common elements in rodent decontamination we use at Attic Construction that return your space to its pristine pre-infestation state. 

First, we remove any insulation that is contaminated with urine, droppings, or nest materials and safely dispose of it. Next, we remove any remaining rodent droppings with powerful commercial vacuuming equipment then disinfect the area to remove allergens, bacteria and parasites. These actions remove the hazards to your health that a rodent infestation poses.

Once everything has been decontaminated and disinfected, Rodent proofing is essential. After the decontamination has been completed, we go in and re-insulate the area by adding elements that will rodent proof the attic to prevent future rodent infestations. This three step process allows your home to return to the safe, peaceful, and relaxing environment that you deserve.