What to Do If Rats Are On Your Roof
Rats are every homeowner’s furry little nightmare, especially when you hear different noises coming from your attic. You know they are there even if you haven’t seen them yet.
If you have rats on your roof, they’re most likely ‘roof rats’. There are two major species of rats in the United States – the Brown rat and Black rat (also known as roof rat). Roof rats are black. They are also slimmer and smaller than brown rats. Roof rats are adept climbers and they usually reside in elevated places like treetops, roofs, rafters, and attics. This heightened shelter provides them with the perfect place to build their nest and raise their litters because of the warmth and protection it provides.
In this post, we’ll explore the necessary actions to take if you have rats living on your roof.
Investigate The Rat Problem
You first need to know exactly what you’re dealing with and this means getting into the attic! Your goal is to check if the rats are just there because of a food source or if they’ve built a nest there. When going into a confined space with a possible rat infestation, ensure that you wear the proper protective gear – protective clothing, gloves, rubber boots, and a breathing mask.
This will help protect direct contact with their bodily fluid and bites or scratches, in case you’re attacked. Yes, roof rats are that dangerous! They were responsible for spreading the Bubonic plague which killed an estimated 25 million people between 1346 to 1353!
After you get into the attic, look for signs of infestation – droppings, urine stains and odors, gnawing holes, tracks, sound, and actual sightings. If you find nesting materials, you might be facing a potentially larger problem. A roof rat can give birth to over 24 pups in a year!
Deal with The Rat Problem
Now that you’re positive that there are rats on your roof, it’s time to get rid of them. Here are some of the recommended ways to deal with roof rats:
Snap traps are one of the most effective ways of catching rats. You have to get into the attic and set multiple traps to improve your chances of success. If you’re dealing with roof rats, appropriate bait to use include dried fruits, nuts, and berries. In the slim chance that you’re dealing with a brown rat, appropriate baits include chocolate and peanut butter. Place the traps near entry holes or in high traffic areas. You can always find a high traffic area by the concentration of droppings or nesting materials.
If you’re fortunate enough that they haven’t gained access to your attic, you can place the traps on the roof tiles. But you have to ensure that you affix them properly so that they don’t get blown away by wind or washed away by water.
Another modern option that’s gaining wide traction is electronic traps. It delivers a high-voltage shock to the rat and kills it instantly, making them humane. Also, they are easily reusable unlike glue traps and are safe to use around kid and pets, unlike snap traps.
Ensure that you regularly check your traps so that you can quickly dispose of the carcass once the rat has been captured and killed.
Deal with The Carcass
After you’ve captured, the roof rat(s), you now have to dispose of the carcass. Great care has to be taken when handling a dead rat to avoid the transmission of diseases like salmonellosis. That’s why you have to wear your protective clothing and gloves. Pick up the carcass and put it in a plastic bag.
Furthermore, you need to pick up all feces, hairs, and nest materials and place them in a plastic bag. Be careful to avoid direct contact. Rat urine can cause leptospirosis while their feces and nest materials can transmit hantavirus. Thereafter, seal off the plastic bag before disposing of it in the trash. For more information on how to deal with the carcass, contact your local wildlife department for guidelines applicable in your area.
Decontamination and Repairs
Thereafter, disinfect the entire attic area to kill bacteria. You also have to repair all the damage caused by the rats, some of which may include chewed electrical wires and wood, replacing contaminated or destroyed insulation material, and so on.
Prevent Reentry to Your Roof
To avoid having a rat infestation problem in the future, ensure that you seal up all potential entry holes. Rats can squeeze through a hole 3/4 inch in diameter. This means you have to seal off even the tiniest of holes. Make use of sealants like caulk, hardware cloth, and steel wool – materials that roof rats cannot chew through.
Furthermore, eliminate all food sources that may be a major attraction. For instance, a fruit tree may be hanging over your roof. This can provide a means for roof rats to gain access to your roof. In this scenario, you have to cut off branches overhanging the roof to deny them access.
You also have to maintain proper sanitation in your yard. Ensure your trash cans are well-sealed and inaccessible. Do not keep your pet food outside. Trim your lawn regularly.
Once you’ve eliminated the promise of food and shelter, roof rats have little incentive to even come near your property, let alone gain access to your roof.