Are Your Palm Trees Harboring Roof Rats?

There’s something inherently relaxing and beautiful about watching palms sway in the breeze. Maybe that’s why they’re so popular anywhere people built their own backyard paradises around swimming pools and hot tubs.

Of course, humans aren’t the only ones with an eye for palm trees – other creatures love them too, but not for their aesthetics.

Roof rats, also known as fruit rats, love palms as a place to live. It’s possible that your lovely palm trees are actually harboring roof rats, and might be encouraging vermin to invade your home.

What Are Roof Rats?

Call them what you want, roof rats, fruit rats, black rats, it all boils down to the same thing. These are the same rats that spread bubonic plague and fleas. They’ve been with humans for eons, and throughout that time, they’ve been less than ideal houseguests. Rats spread far more diseases than the frightening Black Death, though. Others include murine typhus, salmonella, rat-bite fever and leptospirosis to name only a few.

Where Do They Live?

Roof rats actually prefer to live in trees, particularly in palm trees, where they have plenty of protection from the elements, as well as from prying eyes of predators (or angry homeowners ready to get rid of them). They can also move from palm trees in your yard to the roof of your home, and then into the rest of the structure, bringing with them disease and damage (like other rodents, rats gnaw on things, but because of their greater size, they can cause far more damage).

Don’t think you’re safe if your palms are set farther away from the home. Once roof rats find a place to live in your trees, they’ll begin exploring the rest of your yard and eventually make it into your home. Rats can easily avoid dogs, and cats aren’t able to kill adult rats.

Roof rats love to nest within old palm frond skirts, but also build nests in old, dead fronds and within hollow trees. They prefer to stay above the ground for safety from predators, but will make their homes in dense undergrowth just as happily.

Look for Signs of Roof Rats

Even if you don’t suspect you have a roof rat problem, it’s important to keep your eyes open for signs of an infestation. You can identify the presence of rats from quite a few different signs, including:

  • Gnawed limbs
  • Empty citrus fruit rinds with teeth marks
  • Smudge marks on the walls and exposed parts of your home’s interior
  • Well-worn runways (basically rat highways) through undergrowth and around your yard
  • Seeing the rats themselves in trees (usually around dusk or after dark)
  • Moderately sized droppings (larger than mouse droppings)
  • Noise made running within the walls or ceiling of your home, as well as gnawing or scraping sounds

What to Do If You Have Roof Rats

If roof rats have moved from outdoors to indoors, or even if you only find evidence of their presence outside, it’s important to take action immediately. Roof rats are invasive, and they breed very quickly. As they are not native to North America, there are few natural predators to keep their numbers down.

The first step is to locate the points where they are entering your home. Remove tree branches near or touching the roof where rats have direct access. Also it’s important to look for holes or openings along your roof line and soffit and fascia where they may have gnawed a hole. Those entry points need to be patched and repaired to prevent ongoing problems.

Trapping and baiting are the best options for removal, but you need to be careful with things like poison, as it can easily harm pets and other wild animals. Plus, if you poison a rat it could crawl into the walls of your home and die there. The stench from a dead rat is almost unbearable and you often have to tear up a wall to reach one that’s died halfway down your walls!

Baits and traps are safer, but harder to use successfully. Rodents are notoriously trap shy even with the yummiest of baits.

Homeowners often call for professional pest control after trying unsuccessfully to catch and eliminate roof rats for some time. So if you’ve been frustrated with your success so far, you’re not alone. But don’t put off calling for help much longer.

Contact Us

Roof rats are a dangerous threat to your home, your family and even your pets. If you suspect roof rats have taken up residence in your palm trees or your home, contact Fischer Environmental immediately. Call us at 800-391-2565.