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UNDERSTANDING RODENT BIOLOGY: THE ROOF RAT

The nemesis of many a pest manager, here we take a look at the roof rat, Rattus rattus, in detail.


When professional pest managers dig deep to understand rodent biology and behaviour, it becomes easier to correctly identify pest species and to implement best practice control methods, which serve to improve rodent control outcomes. Here we take a closer look at one particular pest rodent species: the roof rat (Rattus rattus), also known as the black rat, ship rat, house rat, and tree rat.

Pest status

The roof rat is a particularly destructive rat species. Its presence can substantially affect native ecosystems and agriculture due to its adaptability and high reproductive outputs. Roof rats carry many diseases and parasites that are of substantial concern to native wildlife, humans, and domestic animals. They also cause tremendous damage due to their habit of gnawing on structural elements, pipes, and electrical wires.

Key behaviour

The roof rat is considered an arboreal animal. It is very agile and a good climber, preferring to live above ground level in trees, although it has adapted well to upper areas of all types of structures as well. Roof rats are often found living in the roofs of houses, which they gain access to by travelling along overhanging tree branches or wires and cables attached to the property.

Inspection tips

When conducting a site inspection, it’s important to look up high, above head height. Look for runways along pipes, ledges, wires, inside roof voids, and trees branches, which can be identified by rub marks (caused by grease and dirt from their bodies), footprints (running tracks), damage (gnaw marks), droppings or nests.

 

Did you know?

The tail of the roof rat is longer than its head and body combined.

Gaining control

It’s crucial to identify the signs of the rodents’ presence and place bait stations or traps in these traffic routes and locations. For areas of high infestation, bait stations must be inspected frequently to ensure bait supply is maintained in all stations until the rodent population is under control.

Preferred food

Roof rats prefer fruits, seeds and food with a high oil content.

Recommended baits

The roof rat is an elusive species that requires a highly palatable bait, as encouraging bait uptake can otherwise prove difficult. This is one of the reasons why Liphatech developed and drove the innovation into soft bait formulations. Difethialone, discovered by Liphatech, has the best efficacy against roof rats and is available in First Strike Soft Bait, which is a mixture of milled grain and vegetable oil which has no wax and is highly palatable. It is also easy to use, making it a good choice for challenging roof rat jobs. Those who prefer a more traditional bait can opt for Generation Block, which also contains difethialone, in a 15 g punchy block bait form. Liphatech recommends rotating rodent baits for best practice.

Liphatech also offers a range of bromadiolone baits and hardware products suitable for use on roof rats.