Why You Might Have Roof Rats
When you think about it, roof rats are pretty similar to us; in the mild desert winter and spring, they come out and are the most active. As evening temperatures drop, they scurry indoors to get cozy. They’re also eagerly awaiting the ripening of fruits across the valley, having to find other means of feeding until the spring blooms into summer.
Roof Rats Are Easily Identifiable
Roof rats feature large ears, scaly tails, and dark brown or black coloring. The name “roof rat” originates from their preference for living at an elevated height, usually in attics, roofs, or trees. And although they are primarily active during the winter and early spring, these pests live year-round.
While they are not native to Arizona, they have been multiplying in huge numbers and spreading across the valley. Likely brought in by a traveller from another state, roof rat infestations have greatly increased since their discovery in 2002. The best method to keep roof rats away is to make your home inhospitable for them!
- Close all garbage and trash containers around your home – inside and out. These offer tasty treats for pests who can manage to get in.
- Throw away citrus and other fruit. Even if it is not ripe, you want to have the ground clear of any food – it’s an open invitation for rats!
- Clean up after your pets. Pet food and pet droppings are common attractors for rats. Make sure to stay cleaned up!
- Limit bird feeders. Birds aren’t the only ones interested in your open-feeder! Make sure not to overfill your feeder, and to clear any fallen food before night.
- Store food in airtight containers. This will keep rats from contaminating and searching out your food.
Clean Your Yard
- Be sure to clear leaves and other foliage from the ground.
- Trim tree branches so the ground underneath remains visible.
- Remove piles of wood and debris from the side of your yard. Make sure that if you do have any large piles that have to remain outdoors to keep them away from the walls of your home.
- Thin out any bushes. These are comfy spots for rats to nest through the year.
Seal Your Home
- Roof rats are able to squeeze into tiny spaces – as small as a nickel! Be sure to seal any cracks or crevices around your property. Stucco diamond mesh is an easy-to-use material that rats cannot chew through, a good choice for sealing cracks.
- Inspect your walls and any large electrical appliances, such as your washing machine or water heater, for holes or damage. (Here is an incredibly useful website with DIY resources on repairing your appliances if you notice damage)
- Use caulk on any cracks, add rodent screens to your vents, and add steel wool or copper mesh to your air-conditioning lines to prevent rats from entering.
Strategically Place Traps
- Laundry rooms and garden sheds are good places to bait rats. Use small amounts of peanut butter in a trap to catch them.
- Keep traps out of reach from pets or children.
- Roof rats are careful creatures. Plan to leave your trap in one spot untouched for at least a week before relocating the trap. Sometimes it just takes a little time to catch them.
Use Poisons With Caution
- Bait stations can be placed around your home. These are designed to be used both indoors and outdoors while remaining tamper proof from pets and children.
- Avoid wiring poison bait to trees and branches. Although you may get a rat this way, there’s a large chance of poisoning cats or birds who spot it.
- Seal your home before placing poisons. The last thing you need is to have a rat enter your home after being poisoned and creating a hard to find stench in your vents.
What Else Might Help?
Get Routine Roof Maintenance!
In addition to the above roof rat season tips, early detection of roof damage can help prevent future problems. This would include leaks and rodent nesting, that could lead to costly repairs and in some cases even damaged home interiors.