Roof Rat (Black/Ship Rat)

Adult with combined head and body length 6-8’ (16-20 cm). Color usually brown with black intermixed, to gray to black above with underside white, gray, or black. Very similar to house mouse when it comes to contamination of food, damages/destroys materials and carrier of disease organisms. Roof rats reached maturity in 2-5 months. The average number of litters is 4-6 per year, each containing an average of 6-8 young.

Roof rats are color blind and very poor vision. They are primarily nocturnal in habit and a very cautious. Although they constantly explore their surroundings, they shy away from new objects and changes making control difficult. Roof rats prefer to nest in the upper parts of structures but may be found under buildings as well as occasionally in basements and sewers.

Outdoors, they prefer to nest in higher places such as in trees but may occasionally be found in burrows in or under vegetation around structures. Historically, bubonic plague has been associated with these rats and its fleas, which move from infested rats to man. Fortunately, plague has not been found in rats in the USA for many years.

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