They have many names but they are all the same rat!

Roof rats, also known as the black rat, ship rat, or house rat, are one of the most common rodents found in homes and business. While they are believed to have originated in the Indian subcontinent, they travelled on ships (thus the name ship rat) and are now found around the world. They are a major vector for disease-transmitting a number of serious diseases causing illness.

Roof rats are smaller than another common household rodent, the Norway rat. Rather than being bulky, they are long and thin in appearance. They have pointed noses and scaly tails. They are usually brown in colour, though they may have black spotting and may even be entirely black. They may have lighter undersides. Their tails are generally longer than their bodies, and adults can measure from 35cm to 45cm from their nose to their tail. Their appearance is important because, unlike many other pest species, you may actually spot roof rats in an early stage of infestation.

In fact, for roof rats, seeing a dead or alive roof rat is frequently the first sign of an infestation. However, you might not see the roof rat in your roof, or even in your home at all. Instead, roof rats are known for running along outside areas in or near your roof. They may run along roofs, along fence lines, and through trees. They are most likely to be spotted at dusk and dawn, as they are nocturnal animals that primarily forage during these times.

Signs you may have a roof rat

Other signs can indicate the presence of roof rats. One thing to look for is the presence of rat droppings, in and around the premises. Droppings are 12 to 13 mm and have pointed ends. They may be soft and moist, if fresh, or hard and dried if older. Any sign of droppings indicates the presence of rodents, which warrants a visit from an exterminator even if it is a different type of rodent.

Roof rats can also cause a significant amount of damage to a property, and signs of such damage are a good indicator that roof rats are present. Look for gnaw marks in your property, especially on the roof or at access points, and nests are a sign that a colony may be present. Rats also leave greasy/dirty trails and are also notorious for damaging electrical wires, so look for any damage to them. Damaged electrical wires can not only disrupt your access to electricity but also create a fire hazard in your home.

Not sure if you have roof rats? Flick can conduct an inspection to determine whether you have rodents present, and, treat your home for rats and other common household pests.

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