large black roof rat in greenville sc

Roof Rats

Pest Guide > Roof Rats

What do roof rats look like?

large gray roof rat in a greenville home

Adult roof rats are brownish black and can have a gray, white, or black underside.  Their body usually ranges in length from 6-8 inches and their tail adds another 6-8 inches to its total length.  They have a scaly tail, large ears, and dark beady eyes. 

The differences between roof rats and Norway rats

For many people, a rat is a rat is a rat, but it is important to know the differences between the two most common species of rat: the roof rat and the Norway rat.  Here are some easy to spot differences:

  • Roof rats are generally darker in color while Norway rats are brown with a gray or white underside.

  • Roof rats have longer tails than Norway rats.

  • Roof rats are slightly smaller than Norway rats.  

  • Roof rats are leaner in appearance while Norway rats have a more “stocky” look to them.

  • Roof rats are good climbers and swimmers and Norway rats are not.

  • Roof rats are often found occupying the attics spaces of homes and in trees whereas Norway rats are usually found in the basement and crawl spaces of homes. 

Are roof rats dangerous?

Yes, roof rats are dangerous to both people and structures.  They contaminate food sources in your home and spread their urine and feces throughout it as well.  Roof rats also carry and transmit Salmonellosis and dysentery along with other dangerous diseases. 

Roof rats have large incisors and powerful jaws which they use to chew through drywall, flooring, siding, wire, pipes, and furniture as well as personal items.  

Signs of a rat infestation

One of the main signs of a rat infestation is finding rat droppings along the floors or in cabinets, closets or other storage areas.  You may also notice dirt or grease marks along your walls, which is from them rubbing the wall as they travel. Rats chew a lot so you could notice chew marks on furniture, flooring and walls.  It is rare that you will actually see a rat because they are fairly shy and reclusive, so if you do spot one there is a good chance that there is a large and active infestation within your home or structure.

How do you get rid of roof rats?

The most effective and safe way to get rid of rats is to seek professional rodent control.   At Spencer Pest Services, we are known as the Rat Man team and have earned a reputation for getting rid of rats in Greenville Spartanburg, Anderson and the rest of the upstate of South Carolina and northern Georgia.  Our team has the proper training, experience and equipment needed to evict roof rats and other rodents that have taken up residence in your home or business.


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