Habitat: Roof Rats - Attics & Buildings
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Habitats and Behavior

Only the life cycle of the Roof Rat (rattus rattus) is discussed on this page, since this is the only rat that is common here in central Florida.

Habitats: Roof Rats live about 90% of their lives above ground. They spend much of their time in trees or other thick vegetation off of the ground. Any good cover with small hiding spaces will do. Woodpiles, debris, and garbage piles make great habitat. People don't often see rats out in the wild, because they are nocturnal, and because the slink around in the shadows, and in the heaviest vegetation. They dart from place to place quickly, when they sense that it is safe. When they sense a threat in the area, they will often hold still.

When rats live in buildings, they usually choose the uppermost areas. The attics of homes and buildings are ideal. Although Roof Rats will commonly enter buildings at ground level, and although I have caught many with ground level traps and in crawl spaces under homes, Roof Rats prefer to be up high. They will often use a ground level entry point to gain access to the structure, and then climb up walls or pipes to get into the home. They just love to live in attics. Note the brown smudge/stain on this pipe in the photo to the right which rats habitually ran across.

Behavior: Rats tend to be very shy and cautious animals. When confronted with a new object in their environment (such as a trap), they will often avoid it for days until they are used to its presence in the area. Rats usually travel the same pathways over and over and over. This is because once they have found a proven safe route, they stick to it. They also have poor eyesight, but they leave behind a strong pheromone odor telling them where to run. In this photo to the right, rats were running up the same wires over and over again to get into the attic, so a trap on the course captured
it. They secrete oil from their fur, and this leaves the scent behind, along with brown smudges. Of course, they also make use of urine markings. Rats tend to follow this scent, which they can detect for years, to find previous rats' entryways into buildings. In fact, rats tend to establish a "scent scape" that helps them maintain familiarity with their environment. This is why is is very important to deodorize an attic that rats have been living in. Rats are considered colonizing animals within groups, and that is the reason why attics can contain several of them. However, they do exhibit territorial characteristics. In most of the cases that I deal with, there are only a few rats living in an attic.

Below are more articles about rats:
Do rats chew on electric wires
What is a rat's natural diet
Vacuum rat feces
Inhumane glue traps
Do mothballs work on rats
Do sound machines work on rats
How to Inspect a House for Rat Entry Holes
How Rats Communicate Using Pheromones
Do Rats Enter a Building Through the Plumbing
What are the Types of Rat Snap Traps
Should you use electrocution traps for rats and mice?
Which is easier to trap - mice or rats?
How do you remove a rat stuck in a dumpster?
Do rats keep dogs away?
Rat diseases symptoms in humans
Will a strobing light or high pitch sound deterrent machine work on rat?
Does using poison cause dead rats in the house?
How to find and remove a dead rat
Do rats like cold weather?
How do I clean rat feces out of my attic?
Do rats make chirping noises?
What can rats chew through?
Do rats eat cheese? Do they like it?
Do rats keep cats away?
Can rats chew through wires in a car?
Does car insurance cover rat damage?
Are cage traps a good option for rats?
Black pepper and rats - does it keep them away?
What if you are bitten by a rat
How to get a rat out of your bedroom
What attracts rats?
How to get rid of rats in the attic at night
What should I do if I find a nest of rats in the attic?
How to get rats out of the attic insulation
What kind of damage do rats cause in an attic?
What animals do rats kill?
How to make a rat trap
Is it legal for me to trap a rat?
Humane rat traps
How to get rid of rats without killing them
What are some humane ways to kill a rat?
What should I do with a rat after I catch it?
What to do about rats in a rental property
Who is responsible for rat removal, tenants or landlords?
What if a rat got inside my house, bedroom, kitchen, etc.
What property modifications will keep down rat populations?
Home remedies to keep away rats and get rid of them
Will homeowners insurance pay for rat damage? (not usually)
What equipment is needed to trap a rat?
Will repellents get a rat out of the attic? (none work well)
How much does rat removal cost?
Where should I relocate a trapped rat? (outside the home, after you seal the house)
Do relocated rats survive? (no, they perish out of their usual territory)
How to get free rat removal
Do rats bite sleeping babies?
Will a rat in the attic have a nest of babies?
Why do rats exist?
How rats communicate using pheromones
What is a ratís mating habits? (both Black Rat and Norway Rat)
If I have one rat, are there more?
Do rats hide from humans?
Do rats dig holes? Do they burrow under houses? How deep?
How to use one-way exclusion funnels to remove rats without trapping them
How to inspect a house for rat entry holes
What to do about a trap-shy rat
What are the types of rat snap traps?
Does poison make rats thirsty and die outside (NO. This is a myth)
What is the best bait to trap a rat?
How to get a rat out of the toilet
Can rats swim? Do they drown?
How do rats get in the toilet?
Do rats enter a building through the plumbing?
What are some of the symptoms of a sick rat?
Do rodents like rats feel pain?
Can rats hurt you?
Why do rats die inside houses or attics?
How to get rid of rats outside
How to keep rats out of my garden
How to keep rats out of my garbage
How to get rats out of the garage
Rat and mouse feces - whatís the difference?
Diseases caused by rat urine
What does rat feces look like? Where is it found?
Is rat feces dangerous to touch or breathe?
Do rats die in the winter
Do rats come out in light?
Do rats hibernate
Do rats like cold places?
Are rats dangerous to cats, dogs, or other pets?
Do rats bite humans in their sleep?
Do rats attack human necks?
Do rats carry rabies?

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