Roof rats, also known as black rats, ship rats, or gray-bellied rats are found in coastal Washington, Oregon, and California as well as the coastal gulf states from Texas to Maryland. They are common in seaports and are frequently found on ships. Roof rats are sleek in appearance having slender bodies with large ears and eyes and a pointed snout. The tail is longer than the body and is used for balance when climbing. Fur is usually grayish black to solid black. Natural habitat is above ground in the higher areas such as trees, vines or bushes. Roof rats rarely burrow. They will readily nest in attics or ceiling voids. Roof rats prefer to feed on fruits, seeds, or vegetables but will eat anything. Open dumpsters or trash cans invite roof rat activity.
Roof rats carry a variety of diseases that are carried in their droppings and urine. Attics become contaminated from their urine and fecal material and represent a human health hazard. Roof rats can enter structures through a variety of openings made by utility lines, conduits, etc. Openings as small as one half an inch will permit roof rat entry. Signs of roof rat activity are a distinctive musky odor, gnaw marks, tracks, droppings, unusual agitated pet activity or nighttime noises in the attic.