The Scariest Thing in Your Attic Isn't a Ghost: Meet the Roof Rat


Move over, clowns. Something much scarier is popping up across the country.

Things that go bump in the night might be in your attic -- and they could be roof rats. Leading pest control provider Terminix announced the top 10 cities with the most reported roof rat infestations, giving Memphis, Tenn. the "honor" of the top spot. This is a very active time of year for these pests, as roof rats often seek entry into homes after their outdoor food sources are exhausted.

The cities in the United States with the most reported roof rat infestations are:

  • Memphis, Tenn.
  • Gilbert, Ariz.
  • Pleasanton, Calif.
  • Scottsdale, Ariz.
  • Tempe, Ariz.
  • Sacramento, Calif.
  • Salinas, Calif.
  • San Bernardino, Calif.
  • San Antonio, Texas
  • Plano, Texas

The list was created by compiling inbound lead data from the more than 300 Terminix branches across the country. The rankings represent metropolitan statistical areas with the highest volume of leads.

Roof rats are a creepy-crawly variety of rodent with a long, scaled, Halloween costume-ready tail that distinguishes them from their better-known relatives. They tend to seek entry into buildings through holes around soffit vents, cables entering buildings, and turbine and box vents on roofs, where they take up residence and multiply.

These pests often gain access to structures by climbing on wires and trees to seek shelter inside, where they can grow up to a full foot long and pose seriously scary health and safety risks. They can chew through building materials like drywall and insulation, and may even pose a fire risk by damaging wiring.

Warning Signs
"Roof rats often stay out of sight, but there may still be warning signs of an infestation," says Paul Curtis, board-certified entomologist and manager of technical services with Terminix. "They're most active at night, and homeowners with roof rats often report hearing them moving overhead after dark, as well as finding droppings and smudge marks from oil or dirt in their attic."

What to Do
A key strategy in preventing roof rats from making their way into your home or business is eliminating things that might attract them. Homeowners should keep firewood, debris and piles of stone or brick as far from the foundation of the home as possible, protect their homes with steel wool- or wire mesh-reinforced sealant along any holes or cracks larger than a quarter inch, and install a thick weather stripping along the bottom of doors to keep rodents from entering.

Because roof rats can bite and are safety hazards, a trained professional from should inspect any homes suspected of harboring roof rats or another pest. Once a technician has determined the source of the infestation and eliminated the intruders, they can also recommend steps to keep pests out in the future.


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