Roof Rat


Actual Size: 16” long including the tail

Characteristics: Slender rats with a long tail. Typically grayish to dark gray to black.

Habitat: True to name, they live and build nests off the ground by climbing canopies and vines.


  • Also known as the black rat or the ship rat.
  • Tail longer than the combined length of their head and body.
  • Prefer aerial harborages and roofs as their name suggests.

Roof Rats in SE Louisiana and Mississippi

Roof rats are one of the most dreaded pest problems. These rats are often known by other names, including palm rats and ship rats. These rats are known to be hoarders that stash nuts and seeds. Commensal rodents, roof rats live near and are dependent upon the human habitat for survival. When these rodents infest homes, they can be found in attics, eaves, and rooflines. The most common identifying characteristic of roof rats is their tail. The tails of roof rats are hairless and longer than the combined length of their head and body, whereas the tails of other rats are hairy, and shorter than their head and body.

Roof Rat Habitat

Roof rats prefer aerial shelter, like tree canopies, dense shrubs and climbing vines. These rats have pads on their feet to facilitate better climbing of narrow vines and limbs, and their tail also assists to balance when climbing high up off the ground. Their search for food generally begins shortly after sunset, using trees, utility lines and fences to gain access to attics, overhead garage storage, wood piles and other stored goods. Roof rats are nocturnal and scurrying sounds in the attic at night are often the first sign of a roof rat infestation in homes.

Roof Rat Behaviors, Threats or Dangers

When they infest homes or forage for food inside, roof rats contaminate food meant for humans, pets and livestock. Roof rats are omnivores, eating both plants and animals, and are very fond of citrus fruit. They also favor pet food, pet feces, bird seed, meat and grease, infesting storage sheds and barbecues. Besides spreading disease, roof rats may cause extensive damage when nesting in walls and attics. Chewed, exposed wires inside walls can spark, causing interior walls to catch fire.

When you notice a Norway rat infestation in your property, always contact a licensed rodent control company.