Important Information About Roof Rats and Fruit Rats in Florida

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Roof rats are arboreal (tree-living) by nature. They are similar to squirrels in their ability to move through trees and along vines and wires. They often use utility lines and tree branches to reach food and water and to enter buildings. They prefer nesting above the ground in attics, soffits, piles of debris, hollow trees, skirts of old fronds on palm trees, and in Quaker parrot nests, but will nest in burrows in canal banks and under sidewalks or stacks of materials stored on the ground.

Roof rats are omnivores (plant- and animal-eating) but very fond of fruit. They feed on most cultivated fruits and eat many native fruits and nuts. They also feed on livestock feed, pet food, bird seed in feeders and garbage. They contaminate and damage much more than they actually eat. They will chew through lead and plastic pipes to reach water. They will travel 150yds. (135m.) from their den to reach food or water.


Roof rats reach sexual maturity at 3 to 4 months of age. In Florida, they breed year-round, with peak breeding activity in spring and fall. The litter of 5 to 8 pups are born after a gestation period of 21 to 23 days. A female roof rat can have 4 or 5 litters per year.

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