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.


  • Often confused for house mice.
  • Tail longer than the combined length of their head and body.
  • Prefer aerial harborages, living in trees and attics.

Roof Rats in Santa Fe and Albuquerque NM

Roof rats are known by many names, including tree rats, palm rats, and more. This is due to their preference to be above ground. Like many rodents, roof rats live near and are dependent upon the human habitat for survival. When these rodents infest homes, they can be found in attics, eaves and rooflines. 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. They are even sometimes confused for house mice.

Roof Rat Habitat

True to name, roof rats are often in 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 and Threats

Roof rats are capable of spreading a number of diseases, including salmonella, leptospirosis, 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. When roof rats chew or gnaw on wires, this could potentially become a fire hazard.

As soon as you notice roof rats in your property, contact your local rodent control company for help.