Roof Rat


Actual Size: 13-15” long including the tail

Characteristics: Slender. Typically grayish to dark gray to black.

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


  • Tail longer than the combined length of their head and body.
  • Prefer aerial harborages, living in trees and attics.
  • Also known as the “black rat” or “ship rat”.

Roof rats in Las Vegas

In the U.S., roof rats are primarily found along the West Coast, the Southeast, and in the coastal states of Washington, Oregon, and California, where they are a relatively serious pest problem. Roof rats are commensal rodents, living near and dependent upon the human habitat for survival. When these rodents infest homes, they can be found in attics, eaves, and on rooflines. The most common identifying characteristic of roof rats is their tail. Roof rat tails are hairless and longer than the combined length of their head and body, whereas the tails of other rats are hairy and shorter than their head and body.

Roof rat habitat

Roof rats prefer aerial harborages like tree canopies, dense shrubs, and climbing vines. These rats have pads on their feet to facilitate better climbing of narrow vines and limbs, and their tail also assists to balance when climbing high up off the ground. Roof rats generally begin searching for food shortly after sunset. They will use trees, utility lines, and fences to gain access to attics, overhead garage storage, woodpiles, and other stored goods. Roof rats are nocturnal, and scurrying sounds in the attic at night are often the first sign of a roof rat infestation in homes.

Roof rat behaviors, threats or dangers

Salmonella, leptospirosis, and rat-bite fever are among the dozens of diseases spread by roof rats. When foraging for food, roof rats contaminate food meant for humans, pets, and livestock. Roof rats are omnivores, eating both plants and animals, and are very fond of citrus fruits. They also favor pet food, pet feces, birdseed, meat, and grease, infesting storage sheds and your backyard BBQ. Besides spreading disease, roof rats may cause extensive damage when nesting in walls and attics. They will chew on exposed wires which can then spark and cause the interior walls to catch fire.

If you have a roof rat infestation in your Las Vegas property, contact us!