Roof Rat


Actual Size:13-15” long including the tail

Characteristics: Small and agile rats. They have a long tail and pointy snout. Roof rats are typically black or brown.

Habitat: True to name, they live and build nests off the ground by climbing canopies and vines.


  • Scavengers by nature, roof rats are omnivorous.
  • They eat a wide range of food, including seeds, nuts, fruits and vegetables, small animals, and inedible substances (like paper).
  • Like most rats, they are typically nocturnal.

Roof Rats in the North Bay and East Bay Area

Roof rats are often called palm rats or tree rats, mostly due to their ability and preference to be above the ground. Roof rats are commensal rodents, living near and dependent upon the human habitat for survival. When these rodents infest homes, they can be found in attics, eaves and rooflines. The most common identifying characteristic of roof rats is their tail. Roof rat tails are hairless and longer than the combined length of their head and body, whereas the tails of other rats are hairy, and shorter than their head and body. They are also less aggressive than the Norway rat.

Roof Rat Environment

Roof rats prefer aerial shelters like tree canopies, dense shrubs and climbing vines. These rats have pads on their feet to facilitate better climbing of narrow vines and limbs, and their tail also assists to balance when climbing high up off the ground. Roof rats generally begin searching for food shortly after sunset, using trees, utility lines and fences to gain access to attics, overhead garage storage, wood piles and other stored goods. Roof rats are most active overnight. Hearing scurrying sounds in the attic at night is often the first sign of a roof rat infestation in your Bay Area home.

Roof Rat Habits and Threats

Some of the diseases spread by roof rats include salmonella, leptospirosis, and rat bite fever. When foraging for food, roof rats contaminate food meant for humans, pets and livestock. Roof rats are omnivores, eating both plants and animals, and are very fond of citrus fruit. They also favor pet food, pet feces, bird seed, meat and grease, infesting storage sheds and bbq’s. Besides spreading disease, roof rats may cause extensive damage when nesting in walls and attics. Chewed, exposed wires inside walls can be very dangerous and even lead to fires inside the walls of your home.

If you have a roof rat infestation in your Bay Area property, contact your local rodent control experts!