Roof rats are found throughout New Jersey. Roof rats are known by other names as well, including Alexandrian Rat, Black Rat, Fruit Rat and Ship Rat. Their body is slender, about 6 to 8 inches long. Average weight is 6 to 12 ounces and their colors vary from black to a brownish-gray to white. Their tail is hairless and is longer than the head and the body. The tail is about 7.5 to 10 inches long. The tail has a uniform color throughout. Roof rats have a pointed nose and muzzle, with an acute sense of smell. Their eyes are large and prominent, but their eyesight is poor. Roof rats primarily see light, shadow, and movement. The gnaw pattern of rats is one eighth inch. Rats are able to gnaw through wood, lead, aluminum, copper, cinder block and uncured concrete.
The Roof rat’s whiskers on the face and guard hairs on the sides and back help an animal with poor eyesight stay safely against walls, under objects, and in burrows. Whiskers are also used to detect motion and test surfaces, e.g. glue traps before stepping on them.
Identifying Roof Rat Droppings
Roof rat droppings have a pointed end and are almost one half inch (1cm) or less in length. Fresh droppings are soft and dark in color. A roof rat averages 30 to 180 droppings per day. Roof Rats are omnivores and consume seeds, fruits, vegetables, eggs, and grain. Rats visit fewer food sites than mice but must eat more at each site. Rats tend to consumes one half to 1 ounce of food daily and drink up to 1 oz of water daily.
Common roof rat abilities
Roof rats are able to swing, jump, and climb. They usually enter and nest in upper portion of buildings. At times, Roof Rats may nest outside in trees, ivy, and similar vegetation. They burrow very little and are nocturnal creatures, with most activity and feeding taking place between a half hour after sunset and a half hour before sunrise. The Roof rat also has a strong social hierarchy. Roof Rats are best suited to warm climates but are often associated with marine ports. In the United States, they are found along the Pacific Coast, the lower half of the Atlantic Coast, throughout the Gulf States, along major river systems (i.e. Mississippi River) and in Hawaii. In Canada, they are found along the Pacific Coast, the southern Atlantic Coast, and occasionally in extreme southern Ontario.