Important Information About Roof Rats and Fruit Rats in Florida

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Control of roof rats is not an easy task. Integrated pest management is needed to control these pests. The tools of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) include inspection; cultural control (prevention and habitat management); physical control (trapping and exclusion); biological control (predators); and--if needed--chemical control (rodenticides and repellents).

The City of St. Petersburg (FL) Sanitation Department offers a Rodent Line at 727-893-7360 for citizens who have spotted a rat on their property. They will assist in controlling rats on the outside of one's property and in their neighborhood. They will send out a Rodent Control Technician to inspect the property, place a tamper-resistent bait station in a rodent-attracting location outdoors and advise on how to help rat prevention. In-home rodent control requires a private exterminator.


Because roof rats are such good climbers and swimmers it is hard to completely exclude them from your yard, grove, or orchard. Here are some cultural techniques to help you reduce damage: Proper spacing and pruning of fruit trees Your fruit trees should be isolated, not touching fences, overhead wires, or the branches of other trees. Roof rats will run along fence stringer boards or support poles, phone and cable TV wires, and tree branches to reach your fruit tree. Lower branches of the tree should not touch the ground. A low-hanging skirt of drooping branches give the rats additional access routes and provides them with protective cover while feeding. Prune trees so that the ground under them is open and visible. This lack of cover makes the rats uncomfortable and more susceptible to predators.

Rat guards on the trunks will keep the rats out of trees. Rat guards can be as simple as a piece of sheet metal 18-24 inches wide and as long as the circumference of the tree plus two inches. Use a piece of wire bent like a giant staple to secure the ends of the sheet metal without penetrating the tree. Put the back of the wire against the tree's trunk and insert the two ends of the wire through holes in the sheet metal. Then bend the wire outward to hold the ends of the rat guard together.

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