Where Do Roof Rats Live?

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Roof Rat Habitat

Roof rats are nocturnal animals, which means they are active during the nighttime and return to their daytime habitat as daybreak nears.

While that is generally an accurate statement, in places where roof rat populations are very large and competition for preferred habitat and sources of food in intense, intraspecific completion may also cause roof rats to be seen during the day as they search for a place to construct their nest, search for a mate or search for something to eat.

Roof Rats During the Day

After completing their nocturnal activities, roof rats return to their daytime nests and protective places of harborage. The pads of the roof rat’s feet are developed for support and grabbing a hold of small tree and bush limbs, branches, overhead electrical, telephone and other wires, thus making roof rats superb climbers.

Thus, roof rats usually have little problems living and making their nests in places that are located off the ground, unlike their rat “cousins” the Norway rat, which is an underground burrower.

Roof Rat Nests

Roof rats prefer to build their nests and live in dense cover and shadows of thick shrubbery, vine covered trees, power lines and fences. Some other common outdoor nest locations include the following places:

  • The dead fronds of thick palm trees
  • Thick vegetation that grows over fences and utility lines
  • Behind or within piles of trash
  • Piles of wood
  • High up in trees, similar to squirrels.

Roof Rats in Homes

As one may expect, roof rats often invade house attics searching for a place to live. Houses with tree limbs extending over the roof are homes most likely to be invaded by roof rats. Once inside, roof rats usually seek out wall voids, voids created by soffits and other spaces above the ceiling.

Some problems associated with roof rats living inside houses are odors and unsanitary conditions from their urine and droppings, the possibility of disease organisms occurring where roof rats live and the possibility that roof rats gnawing on electrical wiring will cause fires.

An indirect, yet worrisome issues that can occur inside houses are stored product pest infestations caused by stored product pests feeding on seeds and other foods that were brought into the house’s attic, cached and remained uneaten by roof rats.