Rattus rattus, a/k/a, citrus rat, fruit rat, black rat, gray rat or roof rat, is the most common rat found in Florida. Many people who move to Florida from up north are more familiar with the Norway rat, but they are rarely found in Florida.
Roof rats originated in southern Asia, and they were onboard the very first ships to reach America. Roof rats are the same species which carried bubonic plague and is the primary host for murine typhus most commonly transmitted by fleas.
Adults are 12-14 inches long and weigh 5-10 ounces. The tail is longer than the head and body length. Roof rats have prominent ears and eyes. Colors vary to black, gray and brownish gray bodies with gray to cream colored bellies.
Their fecal droppings are banana shaped, about ¼ to ½ inch long.
By nature, roof rats live in trees and use utility lines to gain access to our roofs/attics. They prefer to nest in hollowed out trees or in our attics/soffits. They are omnivores (plants and animal eating) and while they prefer to eat fruit, they will east most anything from nuts, pet food, bird seed, human food and garbage. Roof rats typically forage up to 150 yards from their nest (450 feet).
In Florida, roof rats breed year-round with peak breeding season in spring and fall. A female roof rat can have 4-5 litters of 5-8 pups per year so one female can produce 40 offspring each year alone. These female offspring begin reproduction at 3-4 months of age so it is easy to understand how one mating pair of roof rats can turn into a large colony in less than one year.
Getting Rid of Roof Rats
Extermination or eradication of roof rats may require a multi-step process to include physical trapping, exclusion, habitat modification, sanitation, chemical control and even biological control.
Roof rats are a major disease vector and complete eradication is necessary for the health and well-being of your family. Roof rats may also chew through water pipes, electric wiring and even lead shields to get water.
If you have or suspect you have rats in your home or office, here are a few important things to know:
- You can’t get a firm, fixed price to exterminate over the phone/internet from a respected exterminator/pest control company. We don’t know the severity of the infestation or what may be required to solve the problem.
- You should never rely upon quotes citing “$175 plus $25 per rat trapped” or other such nonsense. They are more than happy to collect $175 for showing up and if you have a large population, he may be equally just as happy to run by every 2 days for another $50 bucks plus; remember, the rats reproduce faster than he can trap so he’s got a job for life.
- Don’t rely upon the salesman who quotes $1,395 which includes 30 days of monitoring. What he is saying is “you pay me $1,395 and I’ll come back 2-3 times to see if we catch anything and if we don’t, obviously your problem is solved”. What if it wasn’t? How will you know? When the rodents are thick two months later, he’ll just say, “you have new rats”.
- If you have a nest of roof rats in your home or office, OR, if your neighbor does (remember they forage up to 450 feet), you need a relationship with an experienced and qualified exterminator! You need an exterminator who can determine and explain why you have roof rats and what must be done to eliminate them from your environment.
- Roof rats are intelligent and while we can successfully trap some of them, no exterminator can successfully trap them all. If we could, there wouldn’t be any left. Roof rats have instinctive trap and bait avoidance – they are suspicious and when they observe a rat become sick, injured or die they simply avoid what caused it. Trapping generally only works on small nests and then only in conjunction with other physical alterations such as excluding entry/exit ports or elimination of a trusted food/water source.
- A properly designed rodent extermination should include follow-up monitoring. At 360PestControl, we utilize the ActiveSense™ Remote Monitoring System to verify the rodents have been fully exterminated. The system provides 24/7, precise, electronic, real-time data on rodent activity. This technology gives us proof our effort was successful and it gives you confirmation we did our job, and your problem is solved. If you have a recurring rodent issue, we can install the ActiveSense™ system to determine the level of activity and pinpoint specific movements in real-time data to aid in developing a control plan.
- Don’t call us if you are simply trying to find the lowest possible, upfront price to exterminate rats. Call us if the lowest price you paid didn’t work.
In summation, if you have roof rats, you have a problem which should be addressed immediately. Small rat populations can quickly become large rat populations. You should never trust a low-ball price quote will solve your problem; in fact, it may make it worse. For residential pest control, termite treatment, or WDO inspections, contact 360PestControl at (904) 637-1109 to request service today.