Roof Rat


Actual Size: 13-15” long including the tail

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

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


  • Scavengers by nature, roof rats are omnivorous.
  • They are often called tree or palm rats.
  • Like most rats, they are typically nocturnal.

Roof Rats in Albuquerque NM

In the U.S., roof rats are a common household pest. They are often called palm rats or tree rats, and sometimes are confused for mice. This is because roof rats are smaller than the Norway rat. 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 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, on roofs, and more.

Roof Rat Habitat

Roof rats prefer aerial areas to shelter, such as 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, using trees, utility lines and fences to gain access to attics, overhead garage storage, wood piles 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 & Dangers

Roof rats can spread many types of diseases, including salmonella and rat bite fever. 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 fruit. They also favor pet food, pet feces, bird seed, meat and grease, infesting storage sheds and barbecues. Besides spreading disease, roof rats may cause extensive damage when nesting in walls and attics. Chewed, exposed wires inside walls can spark, causing interior walls to catch fire.

Because roof rats can be more dangerous than you think, always enlist the help of a local rodent exterminator when you have an infestation!