Although the image of cozily nesting in trees might not immediately come to mind when you think of most rodents, some do indeed have arboreal tendencies, namely roof rats (Rattus rattus). They are often referred to by several other common names, including ship rats, black rats and house rats.
About Roof Rats
Roof rats are found -- in big numbers -- all over the planet, with no continents untouched. These slight rats are thought to hail originally from India and nearby nations. Throughout history, they have traveled from one point to another by getting onto ships in great enough numbers to mate. As a result, they frequently are seen in coastal environments. Appearance wise, they tend to be either black or deep brown. They have notably big ears that are practically devoid of fur. Roof rats are mostly nocturnal animals. Their diets are omnivorous and are made up of everything from pomegranates and citrus fruits to lizards, bugs, grains, almonds, paper and pet food.
Roof rats live in many diverse types of habitats. They thrive in and around human establishments. In spite of their coastal preferences, swimming is not a common activity for them. They are skilled at climbing and, due to that, frequently spend time in elevated areas, including the upper portions of buildings with lots of levels. Their lengthy tails help them with balance in climbing. Whether forests or supermarkets, barns or attics, roof rats are not overly choosy about where they set up their homes. Although they reproduce at all times of the year, breeding activity rises at two points, first from February to March and then from May to June.
Nesting in Trees
Roof rats gravitate to high places, so trees are a habitat. A lot of their nesting occurs in trees. In order to access trees for nesting, they usually can easily maneuver their way up walls and over power lines, for a couple of examples. Roof rats are also adept leapers; they can do so both horizontally and vertically. When constructing nests for their offspring, they usually use foliage and sticks. Palm trees are nesting favorite for them.
Other Common Nesting Spots
Trees aren't the sole typical nesting spots for roof rats. They also frequently employ attics and ceilings for these purposes. They sometimes even opt to nest amidst heaps of wood or in thick plants outdoors -- think ivy.
- Natural Science Research Laboratory: Roof Rat
- University of Michigan Animal Diversity Web: Rattus rattus
- City of Mesa, Arizona Website: Roof Rats
- IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: Rattus rattus
- University of California Agriculture & Natural Resources: Rats
- Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife: Rats
- University of California Marin Master Gardens: Getting Rid of Rats