Roof Rat


Actual Size: 13 to 15” from snout to tail.

Characteristics: Slender body with light gray to black coloration.

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


  • Also commonly called the “black rat” or “ship rat”.
  • Has a tail that is longer than their head and body combined.
  • Often climbs trees or attics to build their nests.

Roof Rats in North Jersey

Though roof rats mainly live along the west coast of the United States, they’re still a common problem here in New Jersey. True to their name, roof rats are most known for their impressive climbing abilities. They typically crawl up trees or invade upper levels of homes and businesses. Since roof rats are commensal pests, meaning they rely on human habitats for survival, they are often found in attic spaces or rooflines. Their most identifying feature is a very long tail, which is hairless and longer than the combined length of their head and body.

Roof Rat Habitat

Roof rats live up to their name; they are known for climbing up trees, vines, or buildings to create nests that are high from the ground. Thanks to their padded feet and long tails, they are able to stay balanced even as they scale narrow limbs or other obstacles. Roof rats are most active at dawn and dusk, so they usually begin searching for food shortly after sunset. They are not picky eaters and often feed on pet food, birdseed, meat, grease, and occasionally even pet feces. Since they primarily invade upper levels of homes and businesses, hearing scurrying sounds at night is usually the first sign of an infestation.

Roof Rat Behaviors, Threats, or Dangers

Like other common rodents, roof rats are dangerous to human health. They can spread dozens of potentially deadly diseases, including salmonella, leptospirosis, and rat-bite fever. When foraging for food, they can contaminate food meant for humans and pets by leaving behind urine or feces. In addition to spreading diseases, roof rats can cause extensive property damage by gnawing on walls or electrical equipment, which could even put you at risk of a house fire.

If you have a roof rat infestation in your North Jersey property, always contact a licensed rodent control company. We have the tools and expertise needed to eliminate the rats quickly and safely!