Wildlife Damage Management, Internet Center for



Roof Rats

Date of this Version

July 1994


Rattus rattus is commonly known as the roof rat, black rat, and ship rat. Roof rats were common on early sailing ships and apparently arrived in North America by that route. This rat has a long history as a carrier of plague. Roof rats range along the lower half of the East Coast and throughout the Gulf States upward into Arkansas. They also exist all along the Pacific Coast and are found on the Hawaiian Islands.

Frightening: Ultrasonic devices have not been proven to provide rat control. Lights and other sounds are of limited value. Visual devices such as model owls, snakes, and cats are of no value.
Repellents: None are effective.
Anticoagulant rodenticides (slow-acting chronic-type poisons): Brodifacoum (Talon®, Havoc®). Bromadiolone (Maki®, Contrac®). Chlorophacinone (RoZol®). Diphacinone (Ramik®, Ditrac®). Pindone (Pival®, Pivalyn®). Warfarin (Co-Rax®).
Toxicants other than anticoagulants (may be acute or chronic poisons): Bromethalin (Assault®, Vengeance®). Cholecalciferol (Vitamin D3) (Quintox®, Rampage®). Zinc phosphide (Ridall Zinc®, ZP® Rodent Bait).
Fumigants: Structure or commodity fumigation. Burrow fumigants are of limited use.
Trapping: Snap traps. Box-type kill traps. Live traps. Glue boards.
Shooting--Limited usefulness where legal and not hazardous.
Predators--Cats may occasionally catch roof rats, as will barn owls. Predators are of little, if any, value in controlling roof rats