Roof Rat (aka Black Rat, Ship Rat, House Rat)

Scientific name: Rattus Rattus


The black rat (Rattus rattus, also known as the ship rat, roof rat, house rat, Alexandrine rat, old English rat, and other names) is a common long-tailed rodent of the genus Rattus (rats) in the subfamily Murinae (murine rodents). The species originated in tropical Asia and spread through the Near East in Roman times before reaching Europe by the 1st century and spreading with Europeans across the world.

Black rats are generalist omnivores. They are serious pests to farmers as they eat a wide range of agricultural crops.

A typical adult black rat is 12.75 to 18.25 cm (5.02–7.19 in) in length, with a tail longer than the head and body, and weighs 150 to 200g. Despite its name, the black rat exhibits several colour forms. It is usually black to light brown in colour with a lighter underside. The black rat also has a scraggly coat of black fur, and is slightly smaller than the brown (Norway) rat..

They have a pointed nose, large ears and a slender body.


The roof rat is a true omnivore and prefer moist fruits and a wide range of foods, including seeds, fruit stems, leaves, fungi, and a variety of invertebrates and vertebrates.

In food-processing and storage facilities, they will feed on nearly all food items. They do very well on feed provided for domestic animals such as swine, dairy cows, and chickens, as well as on dog and cat food. There is often a correlation between rat problems and the keeping of dogs, especially where dogs are fed outdoors.

Roof rats usually require water daily, though their local diet may provide an adequate amount if it is high in water content.

They are also a threat to many farmers, since they feed on a variety of agricultural-based crops, such as cereals, sugar cane, coconuts, cocoa, oranges, and coffee beans. They will eat around 15g of food and drink 15ml of water a day.


Roof rats are more aerial than Norway rats in their habitat selection and often live in trees.

Roof rats frequently enter buildings from the roof or from accesses near overhead utility lines, which they use to travel from area to area. They are often found living on the second floor of a warehouse in which Norway rats occupy the first or basement floor. Once established, they readily breed and thrive within buildings, just as Street rats do.

Black rats adapt to a wide range of habitats. In urban areas they are found around warehouses, residential buildings, and other human settlements. They are also found in agricultural areas, such as in barns and crop fields. In urban areas they prefer to live in dry upper levels of buildings, so they are commonly found in wall cavities and false ceilings. In the wild, black rats live in cliffs, rocks, the ground, and trees.

They are great climbers and prefer to live in trees, such as pines and palm trees. Their nests are typically spherical and made of shredded material, including sticks, leaves, other vegetation, and cloth. In the absence of trees, they can burrow into the ground. Black rats are also found around fences, ponds, riverbanks, streams, and reservoirs.

The black rat, along with the brown rat, is one of the most widespread rats and animal species in the world

In food-processing and food-storage facilities, roof rats do about the same type of damage as Norway rats, and damage is visually hard to differentiate. Rats also may gnaw on electrical wires or water pipes, either in structures or below ground. They damage structures further by gnawing openings through doors, window sills, walls, ceilings, and floors. If living under a refrigerator or freezer, they may disable the unit by gnawing the electrical wires.


The brown rat can breed throughout the year if conditions are suitable, with a female producing 5 to 8 young in a litter. The gestation period is only 21 days, and litters can number up to 10, although seven is common. They reach sexual maturity in about 4 weeks.

Diseases and Risks

Rats serve as outstanding vectors for transmittance of diseases because they can carry bacteria and viruses in their systems.

Like the Norway rat, the roof rat is implicated in the transmission of several diseases to humans, including Leptospirosis, Murine Typhus, Salmonellosis (food poisoning), rat-bite fever, and plague. It is also capable of transmitting some diseases to domestic animals and is suspected in the transference of ectoparasites from one place to another.


Jaya Pest Solutions encourages people to dispose rubbish properly, seal off all / any cracks and crevices around the drainages and perimeter of the house, have a proper covered rubbish bin, not leave any exposed food overnight and regularly cleaning of the drainage and waste disposal areas. To effectively manage a serious rats infestation, you must correctly identify the type of rats causing the infestation and the able to diagnose the core problem, which is why it is important to contact a pest control professional.


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