Important Information About Roof Rats and Fruit Rats in Florida

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If your tree has a short or forked trunk, then a sheet metal wall, 2 feet tall (60 cm), around the tree will reduce rodent access to it. If wires go through the crown of the tree or your tree touches a fence or branches of another tree, then rat guards are useless--the tree must be isolated for rat guards to work. Sanitation is also important. Remove all fallen fruit. If you have more fruit than you can use, contact your local food banks or become involved with community fruit salvage operations.


Trapping rats has many advantages over the use of poisons. It greatly reduces the risk of the poisoned rat finding its way into your home or buildings, dying and causing an odor problem. The tree can also be protected by tying several rat traps around the trunk of the tree with the triggers pointing down. Use expanded trigger rat traps on trees and fences. Be sure to tie the traps securely to the trunk before trying to set the traps. The next time a rat tries to climb the tree it will get caught and killed or at least given a good scare. Set rat traps only from dusk to dawn to avoid accidentally killing non-target species like squirrels and protected birds , such as wrens, woodpeckers, chickadees, etc. These animals are diurnal (active during the day) while rats are nocturnal (active during the night). Since rats prefer to stay off the ground, they like to run along the stringer boards of fences and the horizontal support poles of chain link fences. Traps can be nailed directly to the horizontal stringer board of wooden fences. Place a protective board above the trap to discourage birds from accidently getting in the trap. To secure rat traps to horizontal poles of chain link fences, put an eye screw on each side of the trap and use several heavy rubber bands to hold the trap to the pole. As stated before, traps should be set only from dusk until dawn to avoid killing non-target animals active during the day. Use of live traps will also prevent the accidental killing of birds and squirrels. Roof rats are nervous and cautious of new objects in their environment, so leave traps in the same location for at least a week before moving them.

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