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Subject: Roof Rats
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Author Messages
AlexL1
(Florida)

Posts:305


08/27/2008 7:03 AM  
Has anyone had problems with roof rats? What is available to keep rats from climbing trees and getting onto the roofs/patios of condo units? Most people are opposed to poison due to cats (with private owners but allowed to go outside the condo unit) and rabbits that are present.
MaryA1


Posts:0


08/27/2008 7:06 AM  
Alex,

I know roof rats have also been a problem in AZ. What is critical is to get the fruit off the trees as soon as possible! We have a number of citrus and other type fruit trees and my husband borders on paranoia in making certain the ripe fruit does not stay on the trees for an extended period of time. We've never had a problem. I guess you're best bet would be to call an exterminator if the problem is bad.
GeorgerwilliamsW
(Indiana)

Posts:975


08/27/2008 7:08 AM  
No experience with roof rats.

You might see of a company such as critter control is nearby. They can trap and properly dispose of intruders.


http://www.crittercontrol.com/
GeorgerwilliamsW
(Indiana)

Posts:975


08/27/2008 7:10 AM  
Here is some great information from Phoenix.

http://phoenix.about.com/cs/desert/a/roofrat01.htm
AlexL1
(Florida)

Posts:305


08/27/2008 7:13 AM  
Oh yes.. there are no fruit trees on the property.
KirkW1
(Texas)

Posts:1665


08/27/2008 10:32 AM  
There are a number of options that will exclude rabbits and cats. For instance placing whatever control above ground level since rabbits don't climb trees. And making small opening will keep cats out.

While in the Army I went to class on control and they told us to capture a few rats live first to ensure that fleas were not present. If fleas are present, then we treated for fleas before putting out any kind of poison since killing flea infested rats can cause much worse problems.

All of this is part of why I feel that paying an exterminator is well worth the money at my house. They can address the total situation. Simply killing off some of them will likely result in more taking their place and leaving you in an never ending battle. And exterminator should be trained to see if there is something that can be done to reduce the temptation to fill the void when you take out the ones you have now.

Short of that, you can purchase either live traps or spring traps. Placing the spring rap inside a box with an appropriate box will exclude cats. The same can be done with the poison bait. I know rabbits won't eat the dead rats and doubt that cats will bother with the dead rats as well. But I could well be wrong about the cats.
DuaneW2
(Georgia)

Posts:4


08/27/2008 2:58 PM  
First off, sorry if you're having to deal with this problem, it was disgusting. I'd never even heard of 'roof rats' in fact the exterminator called them 'monkey rats'. We cut down the trees next to the house (holly) on both sides, then the exterminator put down those sticky traps. Since all of this took place in the attic, we didn't have to worry about cats.

We found out these things will just move next door when you take care of your own house, which is what ours did. Everyone in the neighborhood kept cutting down their trees, and the problem finally seemed over. Good luck.
AnnaD2
(Florida)

Posts:947


08/28/2008 4:30 AM  
We had the problem at our condo, too. Well, it wasn't really a "problem" just the fact that some people occassionally SAW rats. They weren't gnawing into the buildings or building nests in peoples storage closets or anything. They were just being rats, going from point A to point B. (We don't have any fruit trees either.)

But to try to please a couple of people we had an exterminator put out bait traps around the property. But before doing so we alerted everyone to the fact that this was going to be done. We even provided a sample of the poison for everyone to see, should a rat drop a piece on the ground.

We further explained that the rats would go into the box, eat the bait then crawl off somewhere to die. We also told everyone that squirrels also liked to eat the bait.

We didn't see any dead rats but when the beloved squirrels started showing up dead at people's doorways the outcry was heard round the complex. The rat boxes were removed.

We still see rats on occassion. They'll always try to get into the dumpster. We can't control all of nature.
MaryA1


Posts:0


08/28/2008 8:00 AM  
Here's an article I found on roof rats. I had thought they only nested in fruit trees, but I was wrong!



Intro to Roof Rats

The roof rat's scientific name is Rattus rattus. Historically, they are associated with having spread the plague or black death during the Middle Ages. The roof rat is also known as the black rat, even though it is not necessarily black in color, but rather is usually dark brown. Your typical roof rat is between 13 to 18 inches long, including its tail. In fact, it is distinguished from other rats by that tail, which is longer than the rest of its body. Roof rats are sleek, slender, and agile. Their have large ears.

Are there roof rats in the Phoenix area?

Yes, there are. The rat outbreak first occurred in the Phoenix area in 2001 when they appeared in the Arcadia neighborhood in east Phoenix. As of this writing (March 2004) there have been confirmed roof rat sightings in Phoenix, Tempe, Glendale, Paradise Valley, and Glendale. We can assume that every neighborhood has roof rats now, or will have them very soon.

Roof rats are not unique to our state; they are partial to warmer climates. The roof rat has been found along the southern Atlantic and Gulf coastal states from Virginia to Texas and throughout Florida. They also are found along the Pacific coast of California, Washington state, and Oregon. I have seen documentation indicating that roof rats will always be found within 100 miles of the coastline, but I guess we've proven that to be incorrect!

So how did they get to Arizona? In cars, in trucks, by movement of plants and trash--we don't really know. But they are here, and it will take dedication to keep them under control.

What else you should know about roof rats

Roof rat droppings are long and cylindrical.
Roof rats are nocturnal.
Roof rats can transmit diseases like the bubonic plague and typhus. At this point, none of the roof rats captured and tested in Maricopa County have been diseased.
Roof rats will enter homes and buildings. They only need a hole the size of a quarter to gain entry.
Roof rats are good climbers. They can climb walls and use utility lines and fences to travel from structure to structure.
Outside, roof rats will nest in trees, woodpiles, garbage, and plants. In our area, oleanders seem to be a popular nesting location.
Inside, high places, like attics, are their preference.
Roof rats do not burrow in the ground or swim.
Roof rats eat fruits, vegetables, nuts, pet food and invertebrates (spiders and worms, for example). They will also eat paper.
Female roof rats can each have up to four litters a year, each containing five to eight young. In urban areas where they have no natural predators, the survival rate of the babies is high.
If you have the following items around your home, you may be more prone to attracting roof rats: palm trees, yucca plants, pampas grass, honeysuckle, Italian cypress trees, any heavy shrubbery, wood piles, and storage boxes.
How to tell if you have roof rats

If you have citrus trees, and you notice hollowed-out fruit on the ground or in the trees, this is an indicator that roof rats are present. If you hear gnawing or scratching sounds in the attic or in the walls, you may have roof rats. Pay attention to any droppings in attics and storage areas. If you notice oily rubmarks on the house, or small holes in the screens, you could have roof rats.

What you can do to prevent roof rats from moving in

Repair any broken or torn screens.
Keep your trees trimmed, and your bushes and vines thinned. Make sure trees are trimmed back from the house at least 4 feet.
Keep lids on garbage cans.
Clean up debris in the yard and storage areas.
Seal around your attic.
Don't leave pet food outside, especially at night.
Pick your citrus as soon as it is ripe. Remove any fallen citrus from the ground.
Store wood at least 18 inches above the ground and 12 inches away from the walls.
Eliminate standing water and fix leaky faucets.
What you can do to get rid of roof rats

Trapping roof rats seems to be the preferred method of control, especially if you have small children or pets that might be affected by poisons. Snap traps are widely available, and you can see photos and directions for their use at the Arcadia Neighbor to Neighbor web site. Several city offices are offering traps at very reasonable prices for their residents, as part of their education and prevention program. Check the web site of the city/town in which you live for more information about traps and their availability.
KirkW1
(Texas)

Posts:1665


08/29/2008 5:49 PM  
As a note, when you are dealing with larger rats and snap traps it is often a good idea to secure the trap inside of a container. This serves two purposes:
  • Exclude other animals such as cats.

  • Ensure that the trap doesn't leave should the trap not actually kill the animal.

Occasionally snap traps will only capture a few toes or some such. Smaller animals rarely manage to go far, but a larger rat will occasionally go quite a ways with the trap attached. Also securing the trap often times reduces the occurrence of such incidents because the larger traps often bounce up in the process of swinging the bail.

At any rate, please don't resort to cutting all the trees down. There has to be a better way.
MaryA1


Posts:0


08/29/2008 8:27 PM  
Posted By KirkW1 on 08/29/2008 5:49 PM

At any rate, please don't resort to cutting all the trees down. There has to be a better way.





I agree. Note the other places these rats nest, besides trees:

"Outside, roof rats will nest in trees, woodpiles, garbage, and plants. In our area, oleanders seem to be a popular nesting location.
Inside, high places, like attics, are their preference. "

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