Most rodent infestations can be controlled without the use of poisons. Sanitation and rodent exclusion (sealing entry points) are the best methods to achieve rodent elimination. Rodenticides (rodent poisons) should only be used as a last resort or in cases of large infestations. Trapping is the preferred method to eliminate a rodent infestation. Traps prevent rodents from dying in inaccessible areas and causing odor problems. Traps can be used in sensitive areas where poisons are not permitted such as restaurants and food handling areas. The threat of accidental poisoning of non-target animals is eliminated with the use of traps. Pets and wildlife that eat a poisoned rodent may become poisoned themselves, this is known as secondary poisoning.
The roof rat or fruit rat is the most common rat encountered in the Tampa Bay area. Roof rats are excellent climbers and often nest in attics, wall voids, hollow trees, and in palm thatch. Roof rats often enter houses from overhanging trees or above ground power lines. Roof rats will eat any type of human, pet, or livestock food. Rats are neophobic or fearful of new items in their environment and will avoid new items for several days. Roof rat infestations are commonly discovered by chewing damage, the presence of droppings, and sounds of scratching, squeaking, or gnawing in walls or ceilings. Roof Rats will travel over 50 yard to reach food or water.
Proper sanitation is the key to controlling rodent infestations. The removal of piles of debris from around the home will substantially reduce the harborage areas for rodents. Pet food and bird food should be stored in rodent proof glass or metal containers. Pick up all the fallen fruit daily from backyard citrus trees. All trash cans should have a tight-fitting lid.
Remember, roof rats can squeeze through an opening about 1/2 inch, so sealing these opening goes a long way in keeping the rodents out.
♦ Roof rats belong to the species Rattus rattus.
♦ Female rats average 4 to 6 litters each year.
♦ Rats have a strong social hierarchy. The biggest and strongest rats will get the best food and harborage.
♦ Rats use their tails to regulate their temperature, to communicate and for balance.
♦ Rats have excellent memories. Once rats learn a navigation route, they never forget it.
♦ Rats spend several hours each day grooming themselves and each other.
♦ Rats average life span is 2 to 3 years.