Rodents: What You May Not Want to Know, but Should (Part 5 of 6)

MYTH:  Some rodenticides cause rodents to dry up without smelling.

FACT:   There is no known product that rodents would eat that would cause this to happen.  Some sellers of rodenticides or rodent control services have made this claim to get business, knowing that customers do not want dead rats dying in enclosed places where odors may be a problem.

The fact is that rodents may eat rodenticide bait, crawl away and die somewhere away from the structure so odor is not detected.  When rats or mice do create an odor problem, such as dying in a wall, the rodent can sometimes be located and removed, or odor-control materials applied.

Kaukeinen, Dale E.  “(More) Myths about Rodents.” Pest Management Professional May 2008: Vol. 76 No. 5.  Print.

The final segment on Roof Rats will round out our rodent blogs, for a while…RATS!  This rodent is found to be more prevalent in the southeast and the western coastal areas.

[The following information is taken in part from Truman’s Scientific Guide to Pest Management Operations, Sixth Edition]

The Roof Rat

The roof rat is also known as the black rat, ship rat, gray-bellied rat, Alexandrine rat and white-bellied rat.  This rat originated in the arboreal forest of Southeast Asia and thus it is adapted for efficient climbing in vines, narrow ledges and wires.  Roof rats probably arrived in the Americas with the earliest explorers of Florida in the early 1500’s.

Roof rats are smaller and sleeker in appearance than the Norway rat.  Adults weigh from 5 to 9 ounces.  The color of the fur is usually grayish black to a solid black while the belly varies from buff-white to all gray.  The snout is pointed; the ears are large and reach the eyes when pulled down.  The tail is long, and reaches the snout when pulled over the body.

The reproductive biology of the roof rat is generally similar to the Norway rat, although the roof rat is less prolific, producing only four to eight pups per litter.  Roof rats to not interbreed with Norway rats.

The roof rat is less adaptable to the cooler temperatures as the Norway rat, and thus its range is somewhat restricted to the coastal and more tropical regions of the United States.  This rat occupies the coastal area from Washington, Oregon, andCalifornia, as well as a larger area along the Gulf and Atlantic coast states from Texas to Maryland.  Roof rats are the predominate rat in many coastal cities (e.g., Houston, Miami, Seattle, San Diego, etc.).  In seaports, they frequently board and become troublesome on ships.  As a general rule, the roof rat does not occur more than 100 miles inland, unless the population is associated with a major waterway.  For example, the roof rat is occasionally transported via deliveries of all sorts.  Thus, temporary and/or small populations of roof rats are reported from time to time throughout theUnited States.

In regions of the country where both species of rats occur, it is not uncommon to find Norway rats inhabiting the ground and lower portions of buildings, while the roof rat establishes itself in the exterior vegetation, or in the upper stories, attics, and soffits of the same building.


Bennett, Gary W., Owens, John M., Corrigan, Robert M. Truman’s Scientific Guide to Pest Management Operations, Sixth ed. Cleveland:  Advanstar Communications, Inc. 2005.  Print.

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