If you reside in South Florida, you’re likely familiar with the pest known as the roof rat (or palm rat). Originating from Southern Asia, they were introduced to America upon the arrival of early ships. These rats can carry diseases like the bubonic plague and murine typhus—both of which are harmful.

Palm Rat Facts

The roof rat goes by various names: palm rat, black rat, house rat, and ship rat. They dominate as the primary rodent pest in Florida and thrive in tropical climates. With a preference for heights, they nest in trees, notably palms. Fruits are a staple in their diet.


Palm Rats can measure between 12-14 inches and weigh from 5-10 ounces. Their colors range from black with a slate gray underbelly to gray with a lighter shade below. Some are brownish-gray with a white or cream belly.


They reproduce throughout the year, maturing sexually by 3-4 months. A single female can birth 25 to 40 offspring annually. Considering multiple females in one vicinity, their presence can escalate quickly.


Apart from fruits—often hollowed out by them—roof rats consume a varied diet. In Fort Lauderdale, as well as the rest of Florida, citrus season is from September to March. During this time, palm rats are particularly active. If food is readily available, they’re not fussy, often infiltrating pantries and garbage bins.


Being nocturnal, their presence might go unnoticed. Signs of their habitation include their distinctive droppings and travel route marks. They prefer elevated pathways—trees, wires, fences, and avoid ground when possible. Common nesting sites include attics, debris, hollow trees, and even parrot nests.

Roof Rat Damage

In homes, these pests can damage insulation and chew on electrical wires, risking the functionality of electronic devices. If they invade your kitchen, they won’t hesitate to consume available food.

Outside, they pose a threat to gardens by feeding on plants, fruits, and veggies. They’re also known to rummage through trash bins for leftover food. One of their habits includes gnawing on the sealants of roof tiles, which often gives them entry into residences.

The damage rodents can cause to your house can be irreversible and can go unnoticed which makes them a dangerous pest.

Palm rats, when inside homes or buildings, can be quite destructive. They chew through wires, risking fires. They gnaw on pipes for water access and create holes in walls to move around, potentially causing significant structural damage.

Properties with fruit trees are more likely to attract roof rats, given their love for fruit. A simple solution is placing a 1 to 2 feet high sheet metal barrier around tree trunks. This stops them from climbing up your trees.

If you opt to use sheet metal as a deterrent, make certain there are no protruding wires. Additionally, keep tree branches from making contact with the ground, fences, or other structures that rodents might use to climb. For professional intervention, a South Florida pest control specialist, such as On Demand Pest Control, excels in rodent management in Fort Lauderdale, FL.

Roof Rat Infestation

Spotting droppings indoors, or seeing gnaw marks on food wrappers, wood, and electrical cables could be signs of a roof rat presence. An additional indicator is the appearance of oily “rub marks” on structures like beams, rafters, or walls, which result from the dirt and grease on a rat’s fur. In the quiet of the night, you may also catch audible hints such as gnawing, scratching, or squeaking sounds.

Roof rats, similar to other rat species, are carriers of multiple diseases that can be detrimental to both humans and animals. They can transmit conditions such as murine typhus, salmonellosis, rat-bite fever, leptospirosis, and even the plague. While some illnesses they carry are less common, any contact with these rats followed by flu-like symptoms or skin alterations should be taken seriously. It’s essential to consult a physician under such circumstances.

Are you dealing with a roof rat problem? Let On Demand Pest Control tailor a solution for you. Our specialized rodent control services offer comprehensive protection against these pests. We don’t just halt current infestations; we also take measures to ensure they don’t return.

How Can You Control a Palm Rat Infestation?

Roof rats excel at climbing, so it’s essential to inspect the roof for any possible entrances. Sealing these points with concrete, steel wool, or metal can deter their access. Additionally, clearing your home of vines or ivy further reduces their climbing avenues, making it harder for them to invade your space.

Reducing food availability is key. By keeping snacks in airtight containers, not only do you preserve their freshness, but you also make it less appealing for rats. Additionally, trimming bushes and trees around your property eliminates possible hideouts for these pests, reducing the chances of them establishing nests.

Using sound devices can scare them off temporarily. Yet, these rats are quick to adapt, meaning they’ll soon become desensitized to the noise and likely come back. This adaptability extends to visual deterrents as well.

If a home or property is dealing with a rat infestation, it’s imperative to promptly contact a certified pest control professional. Taking this step guarantees the safety and well-being of all occupants.

Benefits of Professional Intervention

If these pests infest your property, it’s advisable to contact a specialized pest control company, especially one experienced in rodent control in Fort Lauderdale, FL.

While some believe cats or dogs might deter these rats, it’s not often the case. Roof rats prefer elevated spaces and are active at night, making them hard for pets to catch. Snakes can control these pests to some extent. However, they might not manage to capture all, especially those inside buildings.

Identifying and eradicating roof rats is challenging. This is particularly true when they have multiple nests in places like attics, basements, or walls.

Expert pest specialists combine their knowledge, tools, and skills to tackle rodent infestations safely and effectively.

Facing a roof rat issue on your premises? Reach out to On Demand Pest Control. Our skilled technicians can effectively remove these pests, helping you reclaim your property’s peace and order.

Turn to On Demand Pest Control if you suspect a roof rat problem. Addressing the situation early is crucial to prevent extensive damage and undue stress.

Call Now Button