Rattus rattus, also known as the roof rat, black rat, and ship rat likely originated in the Indian subcontinent and are found worldwide.
Its name comes from its tendency to find shelter in the upper parts of buildings. They are agile climbers and easily travel through trees and along vines, utility wires, rafters, and rooftops. Roof rats will use trees and utility lines to reach food and enter buildings. Once they find their way into a structure, roof rats can be destructive and pose a significant health and safety hazard. They will consume and contaminate stored food and feedstuffs, gnaw on wires, and tear up insulation for nesting material.
They do not hibernate and will hoard food in caches throughout their territory. Roof Rats can breed year-round in a suitable environment with the females usually giving birth to three to six litters with up to ten young.
The Roof Rat is brown with black intermixed with a gray, white or black underside. The tall is as long or longer than the body and has a long and thin body with scaly tail with large ears and eyes. They are common in coastal states, seaports and the southern third of the country.
Roof rats establish a home range around their nesting site that encompasses 0.5 to 5 acres in rural areas. However, their home range can be much smaller, up to 120 yards from their nest, when resources are plentiful. They will tend to travel within their home range unless displaced from their nest or if their resources become limited.
Roof rats prefer to forage for food above ground in elevated areas, both indoors and outdoors.
The presence of droppings that usually measure about ½” (12-13 mm) and have pointed ends, gnaw marks on products, and greasy rub marks known as sebum.
Roof rats are polygynous which is having more than one female mate at one time. Males are dominant, while females are subordinate and less mobile. The females are more aggressive than males, and black rats are known to strip bark from trees and contaminate human food.
They generally return to the same location and use the same pathway between their nest and food. The Roof Rat will feed on fruits, nuts, and on the hollow skins of fruit as well as feed on fruit stored in bins. Their favorite habitats are non-crop vegetation, including citrus trees and other trees.