Roof Rats (Rattus Rattus)

Roof Rats (Rattus Rattus)

The Roof rat is also known as the Black rat, House rat, Tree rat, and Ship rat.  The Roof rat is a native of the forests of Southeast Asia.

Roof Rat Description & Facts 

  • Sleek and agile
  • Weight: 5 to 10 oz.
  • Pointed snout
  • Large eyes &ears
  • Poor eyesight
  • Tail is longer than body
  • Average total length: 16 inches (head to tail)
  • Excellent climber, jumper, and swimmer
  • Excellent sense of smell, taste, touch, and hearing
  • Typical color: black, brown, grayish brown
  • Fecal dropping size: 1/2 inch with pointed ends (up to 25,000 in a year)

Roof Rat Habits, Life Cycle & Facts

The Roof rat is very adaptable to many environmental conditions.  They live in colonies with an alpha or dominant male.

Roof rats will nest in hard to reach places such as underground burrows, crawlspaces, basements, and sewers.  However, with roots tracing to that of an arboreal origin (tree dwelling), it prefers elevated areas of treetops and roofs, often nesting in attics.

At times they can even be seen traveling across power lines high above the ground.  They can use these lines and trees to gain access to buildings.

With a running start, it can long jump a distance of about 4 feet, and from a standing position, it can jump vertically about 2 feet.  It can fall from heights of 50 feet without being injured.

It can gain entry into a building through a hole the size of a quarter or a half inch gap. Additionally, they are capable of chewing through most structural materials.

Contrary to popular belief, rats are not truly nocturnal.  However, rats are more active when there is less danger, which is usually at night.  Their peak activity is shortly after dark and again prior to sunrise.  It prefers to travel along walls and between objects in order to protect itself from predators.  They can move around very quickly in their well-known environment by what is called kinesthesis, meaning muscle memory.  Even when frightened, kinesthesis allows them to race back to their home base or the cover of darkness at high speeds, even around objects, with an automatic sense of what is there. They are very cautious (neophobic) and may avoid new objects and new food sources for a time. This makes control efforts challenging at times.


The Norway rat’s diet includes grains, nuts, seeds, fruits, insects, snails, meats, and pet food.  However, Norway rats are also opportunistic omnivores, meaning they can consume many different types of foods.  They need about 0.5 to 1 ounce of food and about 1 to 2 ounces of water daily.


The Norway rat generally lives for 6 months to 1.5  years.  Females reach sexual maturity at 2 to 3 months of age and after mating can give birth in 21 to 23 days.  The average litter size is 6 to 12 pups, and the average number of litters in a year is 3 to 6, but these numbers can be much higher.

Rat Pest Control

Fighting off a Roof Rat infestation takes a professional in most cases. Due to the rapid increase in a rodent population with up to 1,800 rodents originating from a single mating pair in 1 year, a rodent problem needs to be taken seriously. Rodents carry diseases and parasites and pose a serious health risk to people and pets around your home.

Rodents can enter a home through very small areas, in fact, a hole as small as a quarter. Additionally, they can breed, hide and multiply better than most mammals on earth. Look for droppings in garages, attics, basements, behind and under rubbish piles and appliances. If activity is found you might try a store-bought rodent poison, but the chances are very good that a professional will be needed to correct and prevent a future re-infestation.

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