Roof Rats

Information About Roof Rats

"Roof Rats" (also known as "black rats") are Old World (Europe and Asia) urban dwelling rats that are not native to Arizona. In this setting, they are not considered to be a health threat. However, this rodent is an undesirable "colonist" as they have a reputation for causing damage to homes and buildings, stored food and produce, etc.

As the name implies, roof rats are superb climbers and are often heard climbing on rooftops and awnings, or observed climbing in trees, crawling along railings, etc. They are most active at night and eat a variety of foods, including uncovered garbage, pet food, fruit/citrus on tree limbs and on the ground, etc. Due to the abundance of food sources in the city, this rat problem has potential to spread widely. Here is what you can do to help:

Eliminate Food Sources

  • Keep garbage containers tightly covered.
  • Store bulk foods in sealed, rat proof containers.
  • Do not leave pet food out, especially overnight.
  • Promptly pick up any fallen fruit from citrus trees, etc.
  • When possible, harvest your citrus crops promptly and completely

Control/Kill Roof Rats

  • Consult a professional exterminator.
  • Contact Maricopa County Vector Control at 602-506-0700 with questions about setting your own traps. Trap rats with large spring-loaded bait stations that you can purchase at hardware or feed stores. Bait traps with peanut butter and place them in areas with known rat activity. Good trapping sites can be identified by the presence of rat droppings, gnaw marks or where you have seen or heard them in the recent past. This may mean placing traps in high places, like on awnings, roofs, balconies, etc. Be extra careful where you place large sized traps as the powerful spring can injure children and pets. Please note: It is essential to eliminate other sources of food before trapping. Otherwise trapping efforts will not succeed. You can also try using "glue boards" in similar fashion.
  • Poison baits: If you choose to use poison baits, use only products that are designed and labeled for controlling rats, and read the label instructions carefully. Be extremely careful where you place poison baits so as to protect children, pets and non-target animals.
  • Do not permit landscapers to arrive at your property with cuttings/clippings from other customers. The rats can migrate from area to area in haul-away trimmings carried by landscapers.

Contact Information

Updated information on the roof rat problem at Maricopa County Environmental Services' Website.

Vector Control, Trapping, Complaints

Maricopa County Environmental Services Department - Jeanene Fowler - PIO 602-506-6611

Maricopa County Citizen's Environmental Complaint Line 602-506-6616

Testing - State lab who can verify if a rodent is indeed a "Roof Rat"

Arizona Department of Health Services 602-542-1001

Phoenix/Arcadia Neighbor-to-Neighbor Campaign

Barry Paceley, organizer for citrus clean-up, bait station distribution, volunteers 602-273-0435 Additional Information