Origin and Migration
Archaeological evidence suggests that the roof rat existed in Europe and the Levant during the post-glacial periods. However, recent DNA evidence suggests that the rat migrated to Europe from Southeast Asia. The Roman Empire spread it across Europe inadvertently during its conquests of the continent. For instance, the Empire invaded Britain in 40s AD. Unsurprisingly, the first accounts of a roof rat in Britain took place in subsequent years after this invasion.
Another interesting point is that passivity is typical in roof rats when they are in transit. In other words, they remain hidden as you travel. That explains why another name for the roof rat is the ship rat. In other words, these rats travel on ships passively escaping the notice of crewmembers. That is how many of them got to America and Australia. Other names for the roof rat are the black rat and the house rat.
Breeding and Physical Characteristics
Roof rats become sexually active 2 to 5 months after birth. They produce five litters of offspring annually. Each litter has five young ones on average. It is worth noting that roof rats are prodigious breeders. That means they breed throughout the year. Their gestation period lasts for 22 days on average. Newborn roof rats cannot open their eyes, and they have no hair on them.
Typically, a roof rat weights 75 grams to 320 grams. They can be as long as 7.2 inches, but their tail makes them seem longer than they are. For example, some roof rats have a tail that is 8.7 inches long. That means the combined length of the body and tail of a roof rat may reach 15.9 inches. Although it goes by the name, black rat, its color may vary from black to light brown.
Diet and Predators
Roof rats are omnivores. That means they eat plant and animal-based foods. Specific examples include seeds, leaves, fungi, fruits, and stems. They also eat a few species of birds and insects. They can also feed on meals provided to swine, chickens, dogs, cats, and cows. Like tree squirrels, roofs rats prefer nuts and fruits to other foods. They also like foods with high water content. Roof rats can eat as much as 15 grams of food each day. Roofs rats have numerous predators including owls, cats, coyotes, foxes, and weasels. However, these predators have little effect on the overall population of roof rats especially in urban settings where animals such as foxes, weasels, and foxes do not exist.
Damage Caused by Roof Rats
Roof rats are common in residential buildings and commercial settings such as warehouses. Surprisingly, these rats love living in the upper levels of a housing structure. You can also find them in false ceilings and wall cavities. Roof rats prefer residing in trees such as palm trees and pines when they are in the wild. You can also find them in crop fields and barns when are they living on a farm. In fact, farmers incur significant losses because of them. More specifically, they eat a wide variety of crops including sugarcane, cocoa, coconuts, coffee beans, and oranges. They also consume cereals as well.
Health Risks Associated with Rats
Rats are dangerous because they can hold infectious bacteria in their blood. The most dangerous one is Yersinia pestis. It was responsible for several plagues in Europe including the Black Death in the 1300s. This plague led to the demise of 50 million individuals including some people living in Africa and Asia. Another one was the Justinian Plague in the mid-500s. It led to the death of 25 million people during the initial outbreak of the disease.
Dealing with Roof Rats Infestation
Getting rid of these rats should be at the top of your priority list. Remember, these creatures cause excessive damage to your property. More importantly, they encourage the spread of fatal diseases including the bubonic plague. Remove them from your home. Contact a professional to do it for you. Remember, dealing with rats means you have to handle chemicals designed to kill them. You have to identify their hiding place in addition to removing them from there. Then you have to put preventative measures in place to deter them from coming back into your home. Let us handle all of these problems for you. Contact us, sit back, and then relax as we take care of it for you.