Roof Rats in NJ, NYC & Eastern PA

roof rat illustration

Roof Rat Control in New Jersey, New York City, Philadelphia, Connecticut, and Delaware


What Do Roof Rats Look Like?
roof rat image
Size: Roof rat (black rat, ship rat) adult head plus body length is 6-8 in (16-20 cm); tail length is 7-10 in (19-25 cm); weight is about 5-9 ounces, up to 12 ounces

Color: Brown with black mixed in, to gray, to black on top with white; gray or black underside.

Characteristics: Soft, smooth fur; pointed muzzle; large eyes; large, almost naked ears which can be pulled over the eyes. Scaly, dark tail is longer than combined head+body length.


  • Nests: These pests get their name from their tendency to nest in high places, but you may not just find these 8-inch long creatures in your attic; they are also known to thrive in basement environments.
  • Diseases: There are serious health threats associated with having rats in your home, including dust-carrying Hantavirus, a deadly disease that is transmitted through their urine and droppings.
  • Dangers: Rats also pose serious threats to your pets including fleas and mites that they carry and bites if your pet finds them before you do.


What Do Roof Rats Eat?
Roof rats eat almost anything, but they prefer:

  • Fruit
  • Vegetables
  • Cereal products

They get their water often from their food. They eat a lot at one time, and will return to that place time after time. If they do not like a food or bait they quickly become shy of it.


Life Cycle
Roof rats mature in 2-5 months, and are adults for 9-12 months. Pregnancy takes 3 weeks. Newborns get hair after 1 week, open eyes after about 2 weeks, are weaned at 3-4 weeks. Female has 4-6 litters per year, with 6-8 young per litter.

They have keen hearing, smell, taste and touch (long whiskers), but bad vision, and are color blind. They are good at running, climbing, jumping, even swimming. They are nocturnal and explore a lot, but are cautious and shy away from new objects.


  • Chewing: Check for gnaw marks.
  • Feces: Watch out for droppings.
  • Footprints: Look out for four-toed front footprints and longer 5-toed hindprints.
  • Marks: Be aware of dark, greasy markings that are the result of fur rubbing against surfaces.
  • Plants: Check under plants for shallow burrows.
  • Outside:Look outdoors for greasy runways along walls and bare soil runways.
  • Food: Check for tiny nibbles in food.

Learn more about Western’s comprehensive Home Pest Control Plans and how to get rid roof rats.

Call for service: (877) 250-3857