The night’s are getting cooler. It makes for some great sleeping weather doesn’t it? But do you know what else these cool nights mean in Southern California?… It means a big uptick in rodent activity. Especially for the roof rat! As the day’s and nights cool down and especially if we get rain, these pesky, nasty, disease carry rodents will be looking for a warm dry place to take shelter.
Most common in Southern California is the Roof Rat or Rattus Rat. Weighing in at approximately 8 oz and 13 – 17 inches in length, the Roof Rat can be quite invasive and damaging to your property. They will go into the garage space and attic space looking for shelter.
In the garage they will look for a warm secluded spot to nest. They may gnaw through boxes or furniture. They may get into the engine compartment of your car to stay warm by the hot engine after you’ve taken it for a drive. While in the car they may chew on wires and hoses creating expensive repairs for you.
In the attic they will burrow into the warm insulation to keep warm. They may also chew on electrical wiring in the attic too, thus cause you expensive repairs or worse, causing a fire. They will leave feces and urine where ever they go, which could cause a sanitation concern.
Outside you will often times see the roof rat running on the top of the fence, or up a tree espeacily a fruit tree or in the vegetable garden. You may notice activity in or around the outside trash receptacles or in the BBQ and surrounding areas. You may notice rats in heavy brush or bushes. Even if the rat isn’t present at the time, you will easily know if rats have been present. You will likely see feces or smell the stench of urine.
The fecal matter of the roof rat will be long with pointed ends. Anywhere, where rat activity has been present you find evidence of the feces.
It is also important to note that rodents, just like humans, need a food and water source. So lets get a little bit into what the roof rat’s diet is. The roof rat eats a lot of fruits, vegetables, seeds and grains. About an once a day in fact. The roof rat will also consume about 1 once of water per day too. They will be found nesting with in 300 feet of food and water. A pool or back yard pond are among common areas for a water source.
The roof rat has padded feet and long claws that will enable them climb. With the long claws, they can climb up the side of a stucco home relatively easy as well as other structures too. They can also climb trees and then jump to the roof top from a tree. They can jump long distances.
Once on the roof of the home or building they will often times find a way into the attic space. The rat needs a 1/4 inch. Once he gets his head into an opening the rest of the skeleton will collapse and allow access. If on the roof the rat will go to where utilities are coming out of the roof. He will then squeeze his way under the flash and then drop into the attic. There are also vents in the wall of the house vent from the attic. If these vents aren’t properly secured, these then could also be easy access points to the attic too.
If the rat seems to be getting inside the garage, it is likely that the weather strip ( or seal ) on the bottom of the door is old and rotting away. Usually the garage also has external venting just like to attic, which could also be an access point.
First and foremost, we want to identify where the rodent entry point (s) are. Second we want to start an aggressive trapping in the effective area (s). When it appears we have trapped all the rats, we then will want to seal the entry points. After sealing these entry points we will want to leave the traps in the effected area for another 5 -7 days to make sure we didn’t seal any rodents in the effected area.
Bait stations are also usually a recommended solution outside as well. By placing bait stations outside we will cut down and slow down the rodent population. There is no way to totally eliminate rodent activity outside, but certainly we can control the population.
NEVER, NEVER place baits inside your attic or home. The reason being, it can be very difficult to find the dead rodent. This will leave a terrible odor and sanitation concerns for you and your family members.