One of our employees woke up one morning recently and found this little guy hanging out in his front yard. (We took it as a sign that we should kick off our redesigned blog with a post about rats!) This particular rat is one of the many roof rats infesting the Valley. They are also commonly referred to as black rats or ship rats.
Roof rats are non-venomous and generally non-aggressive to humans. But they can be dangerous due to the diseases they spread and the damage they can do to your house. Add their rapid reproduction cycles to the equation, and you can easily find yourself with a serious rodent problem.
Are roof rats common in the Phoenix area?
YES! Very much so. In fact, they are common worldwide. But in the United States, they are most common throughout the southern and coastal states.
What diseases do roof rats carry?
Plague, salmonella, and murine typhus are among the many diseases roof rats carry. These diseases can be transmitted to humans and their pets. Roof rats also carry fleas, bringing in a whole world of additional diseases and nuisances to the equation!
I have roof rats! How do I get rid of them?
We know how you feel! As the video above shows, even professionals are not immune to rodent run-ins.
Roof rats are very smart and agile, so they can be tricky to remove once they move into your walls, crawlspaces, or attic. They are also generally nocturnal (despite what you see in the above video), so most of their activity occurs while you and your family are asleep. Your best bet will be to keep your house clean and clear of debris to reduce their hiding options, and keep food sources (including pet food and your waste basket) put away and sealed up.
Domestic cats are sometimes effective, but rats are wily and can be tricky even for a cat to catch. Store bought poisons will obviously kill them, but they are a hazard unto themselves to children and pets that live in your house and yard. Depending on the severity of your issue and your level of comfort handling it on your own, you may want to contact a professional to help.
How do I keep roof rats away?
The best strategy for preventing a roof rat infestation is to keep your yard and house clean and clutter free! If you have fruit bearing trees, be sure to pick the fruit as soon as it is ripe and store it safely and securely. Pick up any fruit that has dropped off of the ground, and keep all yard vegetation trimmed and free of excess foliage that rats can use to hide in. (You might also do this as rat-proofing courtesy for your neighbors, as explained in this news article!) Finally, keep all potential entry points to your house closed and sealed.
If you think you have a roof rat problem, or if you have additional questions, don’t hesitate to contact us! We can be reached by phone, email, or by the contact form on our home page. You can also check out our other article on rodents and rats, as well as the Maricopa County Vector Control Website.